What's Your Version of Financial Success?

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What's Your Version of Financial Success?

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It's easy to get caught up in someone else's version of financial success.

After all, we see advertisements that show us what we're "supposed" to buy. We look around the neighborhood and see certain types of cars. We look at decor on Pinterest and see what others' homes look like.

With so much to see, it's easy to fall into the trap of creating a life (and a financial situation) that looks like a particular brand of "normal."

From pressure to make sure that you plan a retirement to look a certain way, to your everyday lifestyle choices, there are numerous traps to fall into.

Rather than look at what others are doing and use that as your model of financial success, though, you should look at your own life and figure out what financial success looks like to you.

What's Your Version of Financial Success?

The problem that many of us run into is a propensity to compare ourselves to others. We see what seems "normal" for those around us, whether it seems as though everyone else has a 56-inch TV, or that everyone has the latest iGadget. Instead of stopping to think about what you actually want out of life, and what makes sense for your situation, you are tempted to run out and buy whatever it is that the others have.

That way, you look as though you have the same type of financial success as those around you. Unfortunately, the reality of this situation is that you might actually end up with the same type of debt as your neighbors. You don't know what they are doing to look financially successfully, so the reality is that you might be trying to project a version of success that really isn't that successful at all.

And if your spending doesn't reflect what's important to you, in the end you won't even be happy.

Everyone around you will think that you have conventional financial success, and you'll feel miserable.

Instead, consider what you want your life to look like. What are the things that are most important to you? At what point do you think that you will have "made it?" I like to be able to travel and eat out, and my husband likes to be able to buy action figures. Our version of financial success is one in which we have enough to save and invest, pay our bills and buy groceries, and be able to do some of what we want.

Since we don't want to be house poor, we have a rather modest home. Because we don't care that much about TV, our television is "small" by neighborhood standards.

We don't spend a lot on fancy, coordinating decor because I just don't care for it. Instead, we have a hodge-podge of artwork from local sources.

We are reasonably happy with our situation because we have moderate wants, and we are able to live how we want, for the most part. In the past, we bought things we didn't really want or need, and spent money in ways that didn't reflect our values. When we discovered that we weren't happy with our purchases, we decided to make small changes over time.

We identified our most important long-term goals, as well as the things we really liked doing. In the end, we were able to put together a plan that helps us feel satisfied with our lives, and one that helps as feel as though we have a good level of financial success.

You need to look at your own life, and your own priorities.

Decide what your version of success looks like, and then make a plan to help you achieve it.

Miranda Marquit, guest financial expert for leading provider of debt relief careone services inc. Miranda Marquit

Miranda is a freelance writer and professional blogger, specializing in topics related to personal finance and business. Her work has appeared in, and been linked to from, a variety of publications, online and offline. Miranda blogs for a number of web sites, and has her own personal finance blog, Planting Money Seeds

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