I was first introduced to my love of photography in 2013 when Joseph bought me a Canon T5i for Christmas. I'd always loved to take photos but didn't recognize what I was doing as photography. I mean, nothing about disposable cameras screamed photography to me even though technically I did end up with photographs afterwards.
I also didn't realize that photography was an actual hobby that I could take up or that it was a skill I would get so much joy out of trying to improve. Then Joseph gave me my T5i for Christmas, I took this photo (which still transports me back to that special Christmas morning every time I look at it), and I was hooked.
Right around this time was when I also discovered just how expensive a hobby photography was. “Good glass” could easily cost $1,000 or more. I definitely couldn't afford higher end lenses back then. Which was fine because just learning the basics was enough to keep me busy for a while. But I always knew that one day I wanted to be able to buy some good glass.
Over the years I slowly learned how to use the camera and even purchased a few mid-range lenses (the most expensive capping out at under $500). We even shot our YouTube videos with that camera until summer 2017. After months of research and discussing the pros and cons, Joseph and I recently decided to upgrade our camera gear by adding a new main camera and a new vlogging camera.
And some good glass.
As I was on my way to a local camera store to pick up our new gear, I started listening to Shonda Rhime's book “Year of Yes.” It's a good book, with a number of wisdom nuggets that I'm sure will come up in future blog posts. But it was this line, just a few minutes into the book, that first caught my attention and stuck with me:
“Being able to buy wine and steak without looking at the price was very important to me. It was a goal.”
Did Shonda just casually admit that she had a life goal of making enough money so that she could buy things without having to worry about the price?
When Shonda wrote this, she probably didn't realize that she was dropping a personal finance truth bomb, a Voldemort-esque financial principle that shall not be named. But having spent so much time immersed in the personal finance world, I recognized it immediately.
For some strange reason, we in personal finance never talk about how it is okay to spend more money to have the life that you want. Instead, we focus on how to spend less, save more, pay off debt.
Maybe there are good reasons for that. Like the fact that so many personal finance woes stem from people not intuitively knowing how to spend less, save more, and pay off debt. Or maybe it's assumed that we all know that it's okay to spend our money on what matters most to us. And that we also already know that it it is possible to both spend to create a life you love and save for your big financial goals.
The truth is that most people are not that great at figuring out what they want their ideal lives to look like much less how to make a budget that reflects that ideal life. This is a huge missed opportunity for the people who talk and teach about money because the tendency is to skip this preliminary ideal life mapping and go straight to spend less, save more, pay off debt.
Here at OBH, we believe that sound money management starts with a vision of what it means to live your happy your entire life. With that vision of your best life in mind, you can then work backwards to create a financial plan that gets you to that life as soon as possible.
It's okay to spend more money to have the life that you want.
Steak and wine may not be your thing. That's Shonda's thing. Your thing might be good glass, a well-dressed home, and travel, like me, or just about any power tool and a truck, like Joseph. Just know that whatever that thing is, it's okay to want it and it's okay to create a life and spending plan that allows you to have it.
Here's the other awesome thing about that Shonda quote. Shonda has a vision of her life goals and they. are. expensive.
Shonda doesn't just want steak and wine. She wants priceless steak and wine. Her goal is to have such abundance that luxury goods don't even rate a line item in her budget. Compare this to all the talk we often hear about eating rice and beans and skipping lattes and you'll realize just how groundbreaking this line in her book really is. Shonda set her sights on financial abundance and she made it happen.
I've briefly talked about this idea of financial abundance before in a post about the seven steps to financial freedom. Financial abundance is the final stage in the seven steps. It's where you have more money than you can spend (within reason). Not everyone wants to reach this step. Most people are plenty happy reaching financial independence at step 5.
But know that if you do want to reach this step, it's okay, you're in good company, and yes, it will involve some amount of spend less, save more, and pay off debt.
And since I shared my first picture with my first camera, let me also share the first with my new one. That is some good glass.