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What Does Financial Success Mean to You?

by J. Money on Thursday, July 19, 2012

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(Guest post by Natalie)

There are a lot of ways people define success and what it means to their personal lives. For some, financial success is as simple as owning that beautiful mansion on the hillside or that lovely Ferrari in the dealership. Maybe buying that winning lottery ticket is what you as the ultimate dream. Others claim that success is the freedom that you achieve with realizing your financial goals. The answer varies from person to person just like every person is different.

Financial success is certainly a topic that I have been thinking a lot about lately. Ever since I decided to finally kick debt in the face, I have been trying especially hard to achieve my idea of financial success: a debt-free life.

It has been a long road to finally realize that was the final solution and that was my ultimate goal.  I simply got tired of dreading every time the mailman came to deliver the latest credit card bill.  I got tired of the endless barrage of questions from my family giving me advice on how to pay off debt as everyone assumed that they knew my situation better. It was frustrating and it made me think harder about my finances than ever before.

The turning point came when I had to move back with my folks because the house that my boyfriend and I had tried to sell did not end up selling and we were flat broke from the sale and owed over $5,000 in credit card debt. If you have ever had to move back home after you have been on your own for a while, it can be really stressful to say the least. My family was nice for letting me move with them, but it was not long before I wanted to be on my own again.  I am naturally a very independent person and living under someone else’s roof is just so not cool for me.

The good thing is it made me really stop and think about what it meant to be financially successful in life in terms of money. I didn’t and still don’t want for expensive toys or to live in fancy zip code. Life is too short for that. So I started drawing up plans on how long it would take for us (my boyfriend and I) to slowly knock off debt and build enough savings.

My whole thinking on how to handle money changed, and I am happy to report that I am now just a few months shy away from being completely credit card debt free! As I write this, I only have $1,700 more to go! Although it is not easy, the feeling that comes with being at least credit card debt free will be worth it. Then I will work on the student loans-$12,000 worth. Hey, at least I am off to a good start.

As they say, there is nothing in life worth having that is not achieved through hard work and sacrifice. The same can be said for personal finance. In short, financial success to me is having the freedom to do what you want and not be beholden to anyone. Whatever your idea of financial success, the thing that is most important is that feeling of happiness and accomplishment that comes with it. That is probably the best way to describe financial success to anyone in this world.

So, what is your idea of financial success?

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Natalie is a PF blogger who loves to bake, hike, and read books on finance when she is not kicking debt in the face. Visit her blog at debtandthegirl.com to follow her journey!

(Photo by Schen Photography)


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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lance @ Money Life and More July 19, 2012 at 7:33 am

Congrats on getting so far and I’m sure that last $1,700 will be gone in no time. My idea of financial success is when I no longer have to worry about money or a job. It’ll be a long ways away but I’m working on getting there through saving a lot of money and starting up my side hustle!

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2 Michelle July 19, 2012 at 8:26 am

To me it means being able to feel comfortable with where I am. Being able to pay bills, save and invest.

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3 Bridget July 19, 2012 at 9:01 am

Financial success for me will be having so much money, I won’t worry about money anymore. Essentially my passive income from investments will pay all my essential expenses and I can just work (or not?) for pleasure.

It’ll probably take me until my late 30′s or early 40′s to get here but hey I’ll make it =\ lol

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4 Joe @ Retire By 40 July 19, 2012 at 10:09 am

Great job on your credit card debt. Congratulation! We don’t have any credit card debt and the only debt we have are mortgages. It feels great to avoid writing a check to the financing company every month. My definition of financial success is no more bosses. I’d rather work for myself and I just quit my job! :)

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5 SavvyFinancialLatina July 19, 2012 at 10:15 am

Financial independence/success means being comfortable where, having passive income from investments that pay for my lifestyle, and the choice of being able to work or not work.

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6 Pauline July 19, 2012 at 10:49 am

Great job Natalie, you are definitely on the right track! To me financial success is really about freedom, and not HAVING to work. Being able to dedicate all my time to my passions, doing some meaningful work, that I love, on my terms and without having to worry about how much it pays.
I love teaching for example, and could see myself teaching kids in a rural area, or abroad, and let the bills take care of themselves!
If I had a huge windfall, I wouldn’t change much of my lifestyle, just focus more on what is important to me.

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7 Smart Military Money July 19, 2012 at 11:15 am

J,,
Congratulations on almost eliminating credit card debt. That’s great news.

I’d include being debt free as part of my financial success definition. To that, I’d add being able to pay for necessities (food and shelter) while having a little extra to spoil you and/or the ones you love. Nothing too crazy or lavish, but a hint of luxury never hurt. I’m a pretty modest consumer, so I can’t imagine grandeur homes, automobiles or the like.

-Christian L.

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8 William @ Drop Dead Money July 19, 2012 at 11:40 am

Good job! You learned the hard way: timing your decisions is as important as the decisions themselves. The economy moves in cycles and you ignore them at your peril.

Once your debt is paid off, you might want to consider saving up a war chest for the next recession and THEN buy your house or condo. That way you get it at a rock bottom price and your chances of being underwater ever on your mortgage drop to very, very low.

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9 LB July 19, 2012 at 12:52 pm

After reading “Millionaire next door” I don’t consider moving back in with parents or gifts of money financial success. Most people say they made their millions on their own, but don’t consider gifts in that success. Even though some of those gifts are the reasons for the millions.

I am not saying it was horrible you took your parents up on their help, but I don’t find that financial success. You paying off your debt is success and something to be commended. I mean we all have to get help somewhere sometime, I just don’t think of moving in with parents part of that success. Maybe because my parents would drive me crazy and I would never be allowed to move back in or maybe it’s because it doesn’t feel like you are standing on your own two feet taking care of own responsibilities. Either way I feel moving back in with parents isn’t considered a success on any level.

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10 Budget & the Beach July 19, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Less worry and stress. Being able to live in comfortable and safe housing. Being able to travel a couple times a year (once abroad) and be able to buy things that I enjoy without too much worry about how it will fit into my budget. Oh and a comfortable emergency fund and retirement savings. That’s not too much to ask, right? :)

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11 Edward Antrobus July 19, 2012 at 8:37 pm

My answer is along the lines of Budget & the Beach’s. My greatest ambition in life is to live a comfortable middle-class life.

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12 Evan July 19, 2012 at 9:35 pm

Congrats on the movement towards being CC free.

For me, financial success means FREEDOM to me. Maybe I don’t millions to get there, maybe I do that will depend on lifestyle inflation but the ability to do what you want is a topic that never ceases to fascinate and make me salivate at the same time

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13 Chris July 20, 2012 at 12:15 am

I woke up to a text from my friend (who was drunk and in Vegas) that said, “Bro, we are going to be millionaires”. This single statement defines who I am. I have a 100% committed goal to make as much money as I possibly can. Some people say it’s foolish and that money is the root of all evil. I simply refer them to the book “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand. The “So you think that money is the root of all evil?” quote changed my entire life. I realized that I don’t want to be middle-class. I don’t want to be “doing fine”. I am going to make it even if I fail 100 times in the process. That is what financial success is to me. Reaching my goals and higher.

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14 Debt an the Girl July 20, 2012 at 10:30 am

Thanks you guys for all your supportive comments! Its nice to know that others are going through something similar and kicking butt with their own savings goals.

@LB, I probably should have clarified this in the article, but I no longer live with my parents. I live in an apartment on my own (well, with my boyfriend) and it is wonderful. I think its interesting that you think living with your parents means you are a failure. I have known tons of people who lived with their families not out of necessity, but as a way to build up savings until they were able to buy a home or build a healthy emergency fund. They are now just as productive in society as anyone else. I think theres different paths for different people, and I don’t consider it a failing move that I lived with my parents for that time. Without that, I would not have been able to pay off as much debt as I am doing now. Just wanted to add my two cents.

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15 KDB July 20, 2012 at 11:03 am

For me, it means having enough. Enough to live my lifestyle. That might not make me rich by most standards, but it makes me content.

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16 Jen July 20, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Good for you! After racking up close to $15K in credit card debt over 3 cards, I’m down to $1399 and have a plan in place to be rid of it by next spring. I am working my way toward financial success – the elimination of debt – with new gusto. Having less bills to worry about will be the best feeling ever. When I paid off the two ccs, I hung the first statement that said “zero balance” on the wall above the computer for inspiration.

I want to be down to paying utilities, phone, insurance and the HOA as recurring payments. No more student loans, car or mortgage!

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17 Andrea @ Take A Smart Step July 20, 2012 at 5:49 pm

My idea of financial success is having enough that I don’t have to worry about what might happen with a job or the economy or other outside factor. I don’t need a ton of things, just the ability to control my life! That is so true that the feeling of happiness and accomplishment are the absolute best part. Every time that I put more money in savings, I feel so great!

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18 bryan July 22, 2012 at 3:45 pm

My idea of financial success is having enough money and resources that you feel you need, be it 100 in the bank or 100,000. When you have enough, you will know and when you go above your “enough” all the more power to you.

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19 J. Money July 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Thanks again so much Natalie! Really enjoyed this post and glad others did too :) It totally helped me to spend more time away w/ the baby, so thanks!

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20 Mrs. Frugalista July 28, 2012 at 9:42 am

Financial success for me would be the ability to pay for our bills working minimum wage jobs if need be. We live in a very high-cost of living area.

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21 Beth October 5, 2013 at 8:51 pm

It means that being a dingus is normal.

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