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Question of the Week – Defining Success


This is our Sunday series where we all respond to reader questions. If you want to submit a question, please go to this post.

Question of the Week

Beyond the numbers – how will you define success throughout this process? posted by Jenna


This is a question that I would have answered very differently just a couple of weeks ago.  My moms recent diagnosis has really made me look at things in a different way. One thing that has not changed is that I have never been a numbers person. I avoid them at all costs which, let me tell you, that strategy has done wonders for our debt situation. Sarcasm aside, the numbers were never really what I considered when I thought about success in becoming debt free. I used to think that I’d feel successful when we would only rely on ourselves for the things we want and need. When we would use good judgment and if we did not have money for things we want then instead of running out and getting a loan we would reassess and either save up or realize it was something that we didn’t really need. I always thought once our thinking was changed and it had become second nature, I’d feel successful.  Now, I just want to be able to take care of my family. If my mom needs me to take her to the doctor in Houston I don’t want to have to worry that I can’t afford to take a day off of work because I need to pay a furniture loan, or pay on a credit card that has some charges that I don’t even remember what they’re for. Having to make that choice just seems so stupid. So, now I will feel like we are successful when debt no longer rules our lives. We go to work everyday and spend more time with coworkers than we do with our family. I want that money that I make those sacrifices for, to really count. 


As in life, things are mostly done in baby steps.  Having these small achievements will keep me motivated for the long haul.  There is three things that if came true, I would define it as success.  The first being is the numbers, let’s be honest seeing your Debt Number really does motivate you every day.  The second, is to get in a different mindset, one that is set up for success.  And the third is to change my children’s thoughts about money.  My daughter really has a hard time grasping the idea of money, she thinks that we can buy anything, whenever we want.  She is always begging for everything, just to not play with them.  I really would like to change her thinking.


Great question! I think there are two ways I will truly measure success other than the debt numbers…First, seeing a change in my children’s attitudes towards money.  Seeing them make wiser decisions with their own money, learning to budget our grocery money and being willing and even excited to earn money.  This would be a huge plus to me out of this whole process!

Second, the stress reduction and loosening of then noose around my neck as I am able to pay bills easily without strategizing so much each and every time I get some money would be awesome. This will come not only from the lowering of the debt numbers, but continuing to consciously choose more frugal choices in a lot of areas, enough so that those choices become habits rather than things I have to think about each and every time.


This is a hard one because I am intrinsically motivated by the numbers (seeing the debt amount go down, the amount in savings go up, etc. etc.), so I think I automatically associate the numbers with “success.” But, obviously, theres so much more to debt-reduction than just the numbers! For me, I think another way to measure success is in becoming content with what we have. Its so easy to be tempted with things we see in stores or on TV and the “I want” mentality is rampant at least in the U.S. (and elsewhere too, I imagine??) I’ve been trying to learn to want what I have and be content with that. I am very fortunate. I have a great family and a blessed life. I’m still working toward it (it’s so easy to be tempted by “stuff”), but I think that finding peace with what we have and not always desiring to have the next “hot” gadget or gizmo is a good goal to have. I would love to instill the same values in our children, as well. That, in my opinion, would be a huge “success” on this debt-repayment journey.


  • Reply Kiki |

    In debt reduction, I believe an entire mental paradigm shift is in order! If we don’t change some of our basic attitudes about money and debt during the process, we can fall right back into the old habits and debt once again. How often I have read about people who paid off debt and soon got right back on that merry-go-round. Contentment, thrift, and delayed gratification all have to be part of the process in order to measure and achieve success for good!

    I hope everyone sees success early to encourage you in the pay-off.

  • Reply Deby |

    Ashley, I get it it, the always “wanting” even tho we don’t “need”. I have two quotes that I try to remember when it gets bad (I don’t know the author of either):

    “I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life; I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.”

    “Sucess is getting want you want. Happiness is liking what you get.”

    Here’s wishing you all happiness 🙂

    • Reply Ashley |

      Thanks for sharing these quotes! Great idea to remember these when the “I want” bug hits!

So, what do you think ?