For the past few years, pretty much all of my earnings from photography that weren't invested back into my business went towards paying off debt, along with a chunk out of my husband's paychecks. I'll be honest in saying that it was tough for us to see those earnings seem to slip away so quickly into the abyss that debt feels like, but of course it was all worth it to be at this point today (keep reading or scroll down to the all caps section if you get bored). ;)
For those of you who may not know, I work another job during the week to help cover our normal life expenses. In the spirit of vulnerability, I have to admit that sometimes I feel inclined to not mention the fact that I don't do photography full time out of a fear of not being taken seriously as a photographer. Whoosh. There it is... I can't believe I finally aired that little piece of dirty laundry with all of you out there on the interwebs, but it feels good to be real. That may seem like a trivial thing, unless you've experienced it... that little voice telling you that even though you are proud of your work and might feel some success, you just aren't "successful enough" and then associating that with your worth as a human being (p.s. don't listen to that voice). It's real, and I know there are others of you out there feeling the same way. Photography has a tendency of looking shiny and perfect and we, the creators, have a tendency of wanting to hide behind that facade, but there is a lot that goes on beneath the surface because we care SO much for our craft and for the stories of the people we are photographing.
The truth is that we shouldn't feel ashamed about wherever we are in our businesses or our lives. We are living out OUR stories, not someone else's, and how boring would life be if they all read the same?
In all reality, I love my day job too. It's not the 'soul sucking, windowless corporate office' job I hear so many people talking about. I mean, I don't have a window or even an office.... ;) But I enjoy going to work every day and I work with an amazing team of genuinely good people. I love the feeling and camaraderie of working together towards a goal we all care about and I have learned so much since starting with Visit KC 3 years ago... not just about the tourism industry, but also about myself.
For all you 'side hustlers' out there, I truly believe that who we are at these day jobs translates so heavily into who we are as business owners and entrepreneurs. Treat people with kindness, be detailed and communicative and reliable, because those things won't just be flipped on with a switch when we decide it's time to pursue our heart passions full time. If I wake up one day to find that my wildest dreams, goals, and hopes are coming true, I want to already BE the kind of person who is prepared to handle maintaining them and seeing them flourish with dedication and grace.
Okay, sorry I went on a bit of a tangent there, but I just had to get that out! Back to the big news:
Preston (my husband) and I are officially DEBT FREE!!
wow. wow. wow. wow. It will be awhile before I can get over how amazing it feels to be able to say those words. After starting payments 3.5 years ago, in 2018 we finally paid off a medical bill, car loan, and student debt totaling $62,000 and I couldn't be more grateful for each and every one of you who have booked a photo session with me over the last few years for helping this dream become a reality!! Seriously, I could bear hug each of you right now!
To those of you who still feel the weight of debt, I'm rooting for you! I have seen friends post about their debt free moments over the years and always felt a bit jealous of that season of life because we wanted to be there so badly, but it was so motivating at the same time! It helped propel us to keep prioritizing making payments that were just a little more than what felt comfortable whenever we possibly could.
While we didn't read the Dave Ramsey materials like people keep asking me, we were just faithful with payments even when it felt hard and took advice from people we trust along the way. We paid off the highest interest loan first, then started knocking out the smallest loans. Let me tell you, the snowball effect is real! Once we paid the first one off, we felt so exhilarated that it gave us such motivation to get to the end of the next one, and so on and so forth! We also found some weird ways to make some extra money on the side, including Preston participating in medical studies.... don't worry, they were safe ones like wearing an Apple watch alongside a medical watch and logging daily reports for 8 weeks as well as doing a 2-night sleep study where they hooked him up to devices to monitor his sleep behaviors. If you live in the Kansas City area and could use some extra cash, definitely check out the studies at IQUVIA in Overland Park.
Now for one more confession since it seems like all of my secrets are coming out today. I've actually had this post written for a while now. I wrote it when we officially crossed under the 10K mark to motivate me as I thought about what it would feel like... but I must say, I was pretty spot on ;) THANKFUL is the word of the year as I scroll back through my blog posts and think of all the beautiful stories I've had the pleasure of capturing as we reached this milestone in being good stewards of the resources we have been given.
Can I count on you to celebrate with me today??
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