Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

how do you measure success?

The lovely Kim over at has written a very expressive piece about how she measures her success. Which got me thinking, how do I measure success? Very differently, as it turns out. It's all about the dollars and cents. sounds awful, I know, but there it is. Personal happiness for me and my family is in there too.

Here's a little background:

Back in the 50's and 60's, in the days before big supermarkets, it was common for many people to have account books at the local corner store. Oddly enough, these shops weren't always on a corner...
Things were bought "on the book" through the week, with payments being made weekly, on paydays.
I clearly remember Dad giving me a one pound note (20 shillings), to go around the block to the Four Square Store, (anyone else remember those?), to pay 10 shillings off "the book", then bring home a loaf of bread, some mild cheese, which the shopkeeper would cut from the big wheel of cheese in the display cabinet, a packet of cigarettes for Dad and a lolly for me.
I didn't mind buying these and paying with the 10 shillings left over, but I hated paying the book account. Later in the week when our money had run out, I was always a little ashamed to go back to the shop and buy more things "on the book".

As I grew older, I promised myself I would never owe money, especially for groceries.
When I finally started working, (now in the days of dollars and cents), i would divide my cash wage by how many days the money had to last. There was no saving involved, money was for spending. (Boy am I sorry now. Saving from way back then would have seen me much more comfortable now.)

This system worked well for me even when married with small children. Hubby would hand over housekeeping money, and I'd somehow stretch it to cover everything needed for the fortnight until the next payday.

In later years, when the kids were older and needed more things, I did open an account at the nearest big department store. I was careful with purchases, and made the monthly payments on time. But it never seemed to get paid off, and I started to feel ashamed as I had as a kid.

When the youngest started school, I went to work in factories, doing as much overtime as I could, just to get ahead on those payments. Managed to stay afloat, but the bills kept coming in. As they do. Hubby was working too, but he never seemed to have any money to help out. I found out later he was gambling his wages while I was keeping the household.

Anyway, to cut a (too) long story short, my ship finally came in, when the factory moved it's operations offshore and all us workers were paid retrenchment money. Enough to pay off the department store account, and have money left over. Of course, I was now out of a job.....but the kids were working now and we all helped each other out.

Three years later, I finally found work and have been extremely careful with money ever since.
Success for me means living within my means, never using the credit card, (except that one time...), always ending the week with cash left over. I'm even managing to save a little here and there. For me, this peace of mind means I'm successful. I will never live a lifetime of time payments like my parents did.


  1. Very smart River. I was one of those idiots who took on a load of credit debt in the 90's thinking I'd sell this albatross of a block I'm on and now I'm absolutely broke. Good on you for showing such restraint. As for success, parenting is the only thing I've ever been really good at.

  2. This is a great post River,I don't like having stuff on the book either but I have had to over the years.
    My pet hate was booking up petrol because I never seemed to catch up. I would pay the shop on payday and that would leave me short toward the end of the fortnight.

    I haven't had anything on the book at the shop for a while now. So that is successful, YAY

  3. I haven't owed any money for almost 11 years now, Kim and Baino. I'm discounting the time I used my department store card to buy my laptop when the desk computer got fried by a virus. That was an 18 months interest free deal which I paid off in 12 months. (They love me there! Keep sending me invitations to buy stuff.)I like knowing there will never be any collection people knocking on my door or repossessing my stuff.

  4. I'm with you! I can't wait till I pay off this house and I won't owe any money.

  5. Love Chunks and I always make sure that we pay off our monthly credit card bill in full every single month.

    When he and I first got together, I'd come back to Oz after two years living it up the UK and my credit card was crippling me. He helped me pay it off over the year and when the balance was $0 I stuck it on our fridge.

    We still love to eat out and have holidays etc, but we're not into flashy clothes or the latest gadgets and think before we buy anything 'big'. Our car is fourteen years old but is still reliable so we keep on driving her.

    Our mortgage is mercifully small (but then again, so is our house) and I feel very, very grateful. Success is sitting on the sofa after dinner's been eaten (cooked by LC), the kitchen cleaned, dog fed and we three humans and furry dog are cosied up together in front of the telly.

  6. So it seems we all agree that success isn't just about having the biggest or the most. It's a nice way to live.