The lovely Kim over at http://frogpondsrock.com 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.
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