Earlier today, while I was looking for an image to use for one of my social media posts, I spotted an image of a young man in an Italian type suit. As I looked at it, I thought about how ingrained it is in us to equate this type of appearance with “wealth and success.” While the same man in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt would probably be automatically viewed as “poor and unsuccessful” (or at least poorer than the one in the other image). When we see images of designer clothing from Europe or similar places, they are supposedly associated with financial success. That is why one of the most important things we can do in our lives is to define financial success for ourselves on OUR OWN TERMS.
Financial success is something that we need to internally evaluate and define for OURSELVES. We’re constantly fed images telling us what wealth and success are supposed to look like. As a result, we are often too easily impressed by designer names.
We see rappers and celebrities and how they live and spend their money, and too many of us take our cue from them (as much as our pocketbooks and wallets will realistically allow, of course). But the sad truth is, many of them are not really as wealthy as they depict. How many times have you heard about a celebrity being entrenched in debt or owing back taxes? That is NOT financial success. And they reach those points because of living beyond their means and failing to define financial success for themselves. They buy into the images of financial success dictated to us and spend their money on things THEY really can’t afford. All because they don’t have the courage and/or ability to sit down and decide for themselves how they REALLY want to spend their money. They work hard to “look” successful according to society’s imposed standards. How many of us are doing the exact same thing?
For me, financial success is knowing that I have achieved my savings goals in my retirement and savings accounts, I live in a clean, soundproof, spacious apartment in a safe neighborhood and I have decent, quality clothing. And while I do appreciate nice clothing, I don't need to have designer brands. More important than clothes, I prefer a few pair of really good sneakers. Yes…sneakers. It may sound funny, but I prefer sneakers ANY DAY to fancy shoes. They’re comfortable, and since I walk and exercise a lot, I invest a bit more money into my sneakers. Since I have over-pronation issues (all my over-pronators out there know what I’m talking about) I need LOTS of cushioning and over-pronation correction. So, my sneakers typically end up costing over $120 a pair.
I simply buy what makes me happy - according to my budget - because this is MY definition of financial success. And I largely disregard what others are wearing or buying. I have decided for myself what financial success equals for me, and have never felt the need to impress others with my clothing or possessions. I don't need (or want) fancy sports cars. I don't need (or want) a mansion. I don't need (or want) a Coach bag to show myself (or others) that I have achieved financial success.
If you haven’t done so already, take the time to sit down and assess what is really important to YOU and what true wealth is FOR YOU. Not what other people TELL you it is and should be. And not what they expect it to be for you. Consider and write down what financial success means to YOU. Try to detach your image of wealth from what you’ve been programmed to see it as. Then write down what YOU would need to do, and have, to view yourself as financially successful. And then live according to that.
Financial freedom is not only about having all the money you need to pay for things. It’s also about having the freedom to define what success is for YOU and how you truly want to spend your money. Financial freedom is about not spending to try to “keep up with the Joneses.” It’s about being uniquely, quirkily you in EVERY way that you spend the money that you’ve worked so hard to earn. No matter what anyone else thinks.
And to me, that’s the only real type of financial freedom and success there really is.
What about you? What does “financial success” look like for you? Have you independently defined financial success for yourself or according to society’s standards? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.
About Yolanda Ransom
Yolanda Ransom is a Financial Educator, Speaker and Workshop Trainer who empowers clients to confidently master new money management skills, resulting in increased savings and financial stability. She is the CEO of Yolanda Ransom Consulting and provides financial literacy training. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and at her website yolandaransom.com