I've been going through a rough patch over the last month. I haven't booked a wedding (my only source of income) in the last couple months, and at this point, I'm virtually broke. I'm barely hanging on to pay bills, I've had to lie my way out of dinners with friends because I couldn't afford to eat out, and I'm one bill away from tapping into my 401K for life support. Go me!
You'd think I was depressed, stressed, and uttering FML under my breath, but I'm actually doing that exact opposite. I'm more motivated than ever to figure my shit out. I spent an entire day going through my monthly bank statements and creating spreadsheets on exactly where I'm spending my money and where I can save. I'll admit, I've been horrible at budgeting my income/ expenses, and I think having a month like I've been having is exactly what I needed to kick it up a notch.
I don't want you to think I've been doing nothing the last few months...and last year I nearly made $60k with the photography business, so I am making money. However, with poor budgeting, and spending money on shit I don't need, I've put myself in a less than favorable position. Lately, I've been trying to come up with a plan, and I've been focused on the long ball and working my ass off to create new income streams. Although they have yet to come to fruition, I'm moving the needle every day, and doing that is what keeps me hopeful for the future, and positive. Most people would say, "Hey, you have an engineering degree, why are you not going on a finding a job?" Well, it's because I'm not going to settle for that. I'm not going to go back to a place to work my ass off, only for some manager to tell me how much I'm worth. I've been there and done that, and I have no intentions of going back. If I have to live out of my car for a few months, then that will be well worth the sacrifice in order to see my plans come to reality.
The Game Plan
This past month I essentially laid out all my finances. I needed a snapshot of where everything was, and how I was going to manage them. The first problem I need to tackle is my debt. If you were to add up my student loans, credit card balances, and other miscellaneous debts they would total around $38k. This doesn't include the car balance that I'm currently leasing but I plan on buying it out in the next year. (Because I'm going to make they money to do so) I would technically need to make an extra $50k this year in order to become completely debt free.
As soon as I have the money, I will be using the "envelope system" suggested by Dave Ramsey the personal finance guru. This will help to minimize my wasteful spending, while I can use the extra money I save to put toward my debts. By using my money with more purpose and intent, it will help me keep track of my expenses, and hopefully, help me avoid ever getting into this situation ever again.
I went full-time with my wedding photography business in 2014 to have more freedom, and I feel like I have failed at giving that to myself. I feel chained to my debt, and it makes me chase money. There are times I feel desperate to book weddings, and it's not an enjoyable feeling. If you're new to the self-employment world or thinking about quitting your 9-5 to pursue it, I suggest the first move you make it getting a grip on all your finances, and even better, become debt free. I jumped into everything with no plan and thought that I could figure it out as I time went on.
I have a few plans to create additional streams of income at this point. By the end of May, if all goes as planned, I should have a product that I've been working on listed with Amazon. My goal is to have 4 products selling on Amazon by the end of the year that will bring in a minimum of $10k-15k per month. I will update you when everything is live because I'd love for you to check them out!
In addition to my product listings on Amazon, I am working on finding new creative jobs with photography and videography. At this point I'm trying to generate any income I can, so I can hit my goal of becoming debt free. I can't tell you how excited I am to finally make that happen, and never worry about making another payment again! I'm sure I'll find new ways to make money, and you can be sure that I'll share everything I'm working on with you. This is all a learning process. There will be things that work, and others that don't. I'm slowly getting over my fear of failure, and I'm trying to embrace the thought of it. The more chances I give myself to fail, the more chances I give myself to succeed. All I have to do is try, and keeping pushing forward.