I’m a twenty-something wedding photographer in Texas who photographs couples who are ready to celebrate their marriage. Building my business has been one hell of a ride, so grab a cup of coffee (or some wine - no judgement here) and join me for my life behind the lens.
Andrew and I accomplished one of our biggest goals ever last month – we paid off everything but our house! Oh, and better yet, we did this while cash flowing the wedding of our dreams. I also went full time in my business during this time too!
This whole journey started in December of 2015. That Christmas, Andrew and I decided to drive to Arizona instead of fly. While Andrew was driving, I read an article from Amy & Jordan’s blog about steps to take to go full time in photography. My business was a womping 6 months old at this point, and all I wanted was to grow it and eventually work full-time for myself. In that particular article, Amy & Jordan talked about being debt free, and they mentioned how life changing Dave Ramsey and his principles were. Curious to learn about this Dave guy, I downloaded Dave’s book, The Total Money Makeover on Audible and Andrew and I listened during our 20 hour drive.
Let me tell you, Andrew and I were instantly fired up. We spent the entire drive dreaming about what it’d be like to have no payments. Little did I know on the drive to Arizona, Andrew would be my fiancé by the time we made our way home. We listened to hours of Dave’s podcasts and spent time dreaming about what our future looked like. We were ready to clean up the mess we had made.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking…
We did. Andrew and I already had a good chunk of the debt when we met, and we weren’t exactly doing much about it at the time. We paid our payments and went on our way while enjoying our corporate salary. I mean, it’s totally normal to have a car payment and student loans, right? And that credit card was giving us credit! HA! The truth was though, we made way too much money to be living paycheck to paycheck. We HAD to do something about it…
Here’s what our debt breakdown looked like:
So many different things on different cards – trips, furniture, tuition payments, new tires, car repairs, emergency vet visit, moving expenses, computers, tvs, phones, etc.
Dave teaches principles called the baby steps. The trick here is to actually do them. Andrew and I were totally skeptical at first, but as we practiced them (or didn’t… and then learn the hard way why we should have…) we really started to believe in them. We truly live by these principles now, and we are so happy we do, because theres nothing sweeter than the freedom we feel now.
Here’s our top 4 tips that helped us climb our mountain of debt:
During this process, Andrew and I were introduced to Zero Based Budgeting. The idea here is to tell your money what to do and give every dollar an assignment. Dave has an app for this called Every Dollar, but Andrew and I really like You Need a Budget. We have used this tool for years now, and I even use it for my business budget too! Andrew and I try to meet at least once a month to talk about the budget. We also don’t make any purchases over ~$100 without talking to each other first. This keeps us accountable and honest through this process.
In Baby Step 2, Dave teaches to order your debts from smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate. I know that some of you nerds out there are rolling your eyes right now, but y’all, theres some legit reasoning behind this snowball method and we experienced it first hand. $121K is a very daunting mountain, but when we paid off that first $260 credit card and crossed it off our list, we were PUMPED. We now had that payment to make towards the NEXT debt, and when that little one was gone, we were on to the next one! Don’t underestimate the power of motivation.
This one is self explanatory, but trust me, easier said than done. We were planning a wedding during this process, and it was so hard to not say “screw it” and put it all on a card. Weddings are expensive, y’all, and with a little help from family we cash-flowed the whole thing.
This also applies to business debt too though. I’ve heard people say that you can’t start a business without debt, and that is completely false. Save up and pay it in cash. And trust me, that Canon 5D MIV is so much sweeter when it’s completely paid for 😉
This one was obviously the hardest, but Andrew and I had to say no a lot. We’ve said no to fun trips, to eating out and many other things. Like Dave says though, “Live like no one else so you can later live like no one else”.
This has been such an incredible experience for us, but we are just getting started on the rest! We are currently in Baby Step 3 and are working on our 3-6 month emergency fund. After thats done though, it’s Andrew’s turn for some fun as we save up to buy his next car in cash! He reallllyyy wants that Tesla, but we will see 🙂
I hope this encourages you on your own financial journey! I’m cheering for you, friends!
So let's take our new relationship offline and meet face-to-face for hugs and a warm beverage!
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