We’re in the middle of a series for photographers and aspiring entrepreneurs called “Making the Leap” where we’re sharing our ten practical steps for going from part-time photographers to full-time. Or, as author Jon Acuff puts it, going from your day job to your dream job without it becoming a nightmare. If you’re just joining us, you can catch up here:

Making the Leap
Step 1: Get Debt Free
Step 2: Get a Mentor
Step 3: Get Educated
Step 4: Get the Necessities
Step 5: Get a Team
Step 6: Get Branded (Part 1)
Step 6: Get Branded (Part 2)
Step 7: Get Busy Loving Clients
Step 8: Get in Community
Step 9: Get a Fresh Perspective
Step 10: Get to Praying

When we got engaged over five years ago, Amy’s uncle handed us an audio book and CD set that literally changed our lives forever. The book was The Total Money Makeover and the CD set was Financial Peace University, both by personal finance expert Dave Ramsey. As he handed it to us, Amy’s uncle told us he would’ve given anything to go back in time and understand these financial principles at the start of his own marriage, and that he hoped he could help prevent us from making the same mistakes he did. His words were so powerful and full of such conviction that we knew it wasn’t something we could ignore.

to live like no one else, so that later they can live and give like no one else

During our year-long engagement, Jordan devoured the information. In fact, he ended up listening to both books at least five times all the way through because he just couldn’t stop soaking in all the wisdom. Anytime he was in his car or working out, he was listening and absorbing, then bringing it to Amy to discuss even further. In the book, Dave explained his broken past, going bankrupt at 26 with a marriage hanging by a thread, a toddler, and a baby on the way. He described standing in the shower one morning, sobbing as the scalding water washed over his face; and, how since that day, he’s made it his life’s mission to teach people
how to handle money God’s way, to live like no one else, so that later they can live and give like no one else. We committed, right then and there, to be intentional about our financial decisions and live our life debt free. It has been one of the greatest gifts to our marriage, and the freedom and peace that we’ve experienced is unparalleled. The number one cause of divorce in North America is money fights and problems, and we didn’t want to be a statistic. Instead, we’ve been able to thrive and draw closer to each other because we are on the same page financially and are now partners striving toward the same goal.

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When we started our business, it was only natural for us to apply the same debt free principles.

It wasn’t going to be easy, but it would be worth it.

We knew that it would take longer to save up and pay cash for all of our gear and equipment while still paying our monthly bills and saving for the future than it would be to charge things on a credit card or take a loan from the bank, but we also knew that being patient would be worth it – because no one would ever own any piece of our business except us.

As two elementary school teachers, we weren’t exactly rolling in the dough, but we made the decision from the beginning to live on only one teacher salary and save the other, while building our business at night and on the weekends, to make sure that we’d have plenty of cushion to keep the uncertainties of life from taking us down. We invested a small amount of personal cash to purchase some starter equipment for Amy to begin shooting, and from there on, we committed to never spending any more personal money on our business.

We worked photo jobs, saved up, and bought all of our gear in the order of importance, not price.

We didn’t pay ourselves from our business for a long time because we were spending most of the money we were bringing in on acquiring all the gear we needed to grow into the future. It was an investment worth making.

We also committed to reimbursing ourselves by the end of our first year in business and never investing personal dollars into it again. We wanted to teach ourselves to be disciplined in our business spending. We also never wanted to get into the habit of bailing out our business with our personal savings, mortgaging our future and our future kids’ futures on a losing venture.

Our business would stand on its own, no matter how long it took.

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Some people might argue that we played it too safe, that we took the conservative route, that we should’ve made the leap earlier.

We disagree.

For us, the peace of mind that came with building our business debt-free was worth all the sacrifices we made along the way.

We never worried that our business wouldn’t make it. We never had to take jobs that we hated, either, just to pay the bills. We got to do things our way on our timeline. Sure, it was really hard. We worked 12-14 hour days 7 days a week for a few years. But the stress of working hard towards a goal doesn’t compare to the stress of the loans and bills you can’t pay.

No matter where you are in your journey, we believe the best first step is getting out of debt. It might take some big adjustments. It might mean working your day job longer than you’d like. But trust us, Dave Ramsey’s plan won’t just change your financial future, it will change your heart, too, and that’s priceless.

If you’ve never read The Total Money Makeover or been through Financial Peace University, do it.

If you have any questions about this first step, please leave your comments down below or shoot us an email and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Here’s What’s Next…


Next, we’ll dive in to step two: Get a Mentor. We’ll talk about how we found our photography mentor, what to look for in a mentor, and how you can add value to someone so that they’ll reinvest in you!

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We’re so proud of our shooting and editing course students all across the world! They’re shooting better, editing faster and serving their clients better than ever before!

Looking for more resources?

Alisa

 

20 comments
filed in: Education

    Jillian Ryan

    Couldn't agree more! With more and more people spreading debt free principles, the better our society! Love to read about your experiences with this as well. I've almost made enough money from photography for my business's emergency fund and than I'm going to start using the extra to get rid of our school debt. The faster we're out of debt, the faster I can go full time. For now I have to rent but I know it's for a better future :)

    Jillian Ryan

    Couldn't agree more! With more and more people spreading debt free principles, the better our society! Love to read about your experiences with this as well. I've almost made enough money from photography for my business's emergency fund and than I'm going to start using the extra to get rid of our school debt. The faster we're out of debt, the faster I can go full time. For now I have to rent but I know it's for a better future :)

    Amy & Jordan

    We love hearing that, Jillian! Keep at it, girl, and don't give up! If you ever need someone to talk to about your journey, or even if you just need a pep talk to pump you up when things get tough, we are here for you!

    We love hearing that, Jillian! Keep at it, girl, and don't give up! If you ever need someone to talk to about your journey, or even if you just need a pep talk to pump you up when things get tough, we are here for you!

    Jillian Ryan

    Thanks so much you guys! I feel grateful to have met you! Running a business is hard and so is doing it debt free. It's refreshing, encouraging, and inspiring to see that you two have made that happen :)

    Thanks, Jillian! I hope that this series blesses you and gives you some tools to help make your dream a reality! We believe in you!

    Abbi

    Started the envelope system and thought it silly. But I'll b darned...helped when I was laid off in September with the gov shutdown. I'm on the lookout for this book because I see if the desire and passion is there and of course the guidance, it'll work!!!

    Amy & Jordan

    Hey Abbi! It totally works! It was a game-changer for our marriage. I can't imagine where we'd be without it :-)

    Abbi

    Started the envelope system and thought it silly. But I'll b darned...helped when I was laid off in September with the gov shutdown. I'm on the lookout for this book because I see if the desire and passion is there and of course the guidance, it'll work!!!

    Amy & Jordan

    Hey Abbi! It totally works! It was a game-changer for our marriage. I can't imagine where we'd be without it :-)

    Rica Goettsche

    When my church started a FPU class, I knew my husband and I had to jump on it. I was wary at first because of all the fakes out there, but after your praises and that of others we know, we jumped right in! It's only been one week but boy am I excited to get us out of debt!
    Thank you thank you thank you!

    Rica Goettsche

    When my church started a FPU class, I knew my husband and I had to jump on it. I was wary at first because of all the fakes out there, but after your praises and that of others we know, we jumped right in! It's only been one week but boy am I excited to get us out of debt!
    Thank you thank you thank you!

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Rica! We're so proud of you! We can't wait to hear you call Dave Ramsey and do you "debt-free" scream on the radio!

    Amy & Jordan

    Hi, Rica! We're so proud of you! We can't wait to hear you call Dave Ramsey and do you "debt-free" scream on the radio!

    Heather Lea

    LOVE this! Thank you for sharing your story!! I am a HUGE advocate of Dave Ramsey, and my husband and I have taken the FPU class 3X's! We are so close to being 100% debt free, after being knee deep about 6 years ago when we started the courses. My photography business, though still small but growing, has been a huge blessing in our financial freedom. I'm so grateful for finding your blog so I can continue to grow and learn from professionals like you!

    Jackie Spell

    WOW! I love Dave Ramsey. I started watching all of his Debt Free videos on YouTube.

    I want to purchase a house in 2017 and I don't want any debt (credit cards, medical, etc).

    So I made my mind up and took my 2015 Taxes and paid off all of my debt. Well, I paid off 95% of all my debt and my credit score skyrocketed out of this world.

    I am going to read his book! I want to purchase my house with cash (if possible).

    Rose

    Thanks for sharing your history with us. I live the fact you love God and that you use His principles in your business. I'm just a beginner but I plan on become the best!!!

    Amy & Jordan

    Thanks so much, Rose!! That means so much to us!