Our Journey to Financial Peace

Money. This simple 5 letter word stirs all kinds of feelings and emotions. It’s on everyone’s mind, yet no one wants to talk about it.

Stress, anxiety, and disagreements can all be traced to money issues, both at home and in business. In fact, money problems are one of the top reasons for divorce and business failure. So why is it that we don’t take more time to discuss something that is so important?

I grew up in eastern NC. From as far back as I can remember my mom has been a business owner. At this point I’ve lost track of how many different businesses she’s run, but they’ve all had 1 thing in common. Money troubles.

Money was always an argument point around the house. I never wanted for anything. We had what we needed, but there was always some trouble revolving around money. Once my parents divorced it became more acute. Mom was always negotiating to get the phone or power turned back on after failing to pay the bill.

I left NC and moved to Savannah to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design. There was no way I could afford a private art college without lots of student loans. So without much thought for how I would pay it back I kept piling on the debt.

After graduation I was hired on at a daily newspaper. I don’t remember my starting pay, but I know when I left after 14 years I was making less than $16 per hour. During my time at the paper I never enrolled in the 401K or made any real effort to pay off debt. My issues with drugs and alcohol made things even worse.

By the time I got sober in 2008 I had begun to turn things around. I was kinda forced to by the credit card companies. I got on a repayment plan and got them all paid off.  Now that I was sober I also had more money to put toward my student loans, but more important things always came up.

By the time the lovely Rebecca and I married things were looking better. We were both surprised at my credit score when we began the process to buy our house. After starting my business in 2014 I was making more money than I ever had. We had a healthy baby boy and life was good!

2018 had been another good year for my business, but I had in my head the entire year that it had not been as good as 2017. I kept feeding myself that story and I believed it.  As I was putting together my tax info for the year I looked over a Profit/Loss statement and was blown away.

Not only had the income been good, we had broken 6 figures for the first time. But after expenditures the bottom line showed -69.**. Seeing that took my breath away. We had made more money than ever, but we had spent every penny of it, plus more.

I was devastated. I had no idea of what to do. I had underpaid our quarterly taxes, so we owed money. We also owed a penalty for underpaying and a new increased quarterly tax payment. I’m going to tell you life seemed a little bleak.

I was set to attend a 2 day business intensive workshop for photographers in Atlanta.  I had high hopes that I would get something out of it that would help and I wasn’t disappointed. I heard exactly what I needed to, but it wasn’t some secret on how to book more couples or increase my profits. What I heard was about this life changing thing called Financial Peace University .

I was familiar with Dave Ramsey, but never thought of Financial Peace as something I needed. Listening to my friend talk made me change that opinion.  Much like recovery from addiction, you can’t treat the problem until you first recognize it and accept it. Only then can you find the willingness needed to change.

As fate would have it, our pastor was teaching an FPU class at our church. I discussed it with Rebecca and enrolled. She wasn’t able to attend with me and I wasn’t able to attend every session, but I got enough out of it for a beginning. We started doing a monthly budget, which was hard at first. I sat down for the first time did a projected income for my business. I looked at income and expenses and figured out exactly how much I could afford to pay myself each month. Let me tell you, it wasn’t easy but I know it saved my business.

Cutting back on business expenses. Understanding what I could afford to pay myself. While getting control of our personal spending made all the difference in the world! This year Rebecca and I went through FPU together. Since beginning the Baby Steps we’ve nearly paid off all our debt. Other than our home, my student loan is our last remaining debt.

My business is doing well and I’m now much better equipped to plan for the ups and downs. I have a better understanding of my projected income and how to save for slow periods. I can actually balance work and take time off without stressing about the lack of money coming in.

We still have a ways to go on our journey, and we don’t do it perfectly. But it’s a helluva lot better than it was. Today I know that when Rebecca and I work together we can achieve anything. So we’re going to keep working on this, and if we can do it you can too!

I will be leading my first Financial Peace University class here in Savannah this fall. If you’re in Savannah I would love for you to join us Financial Peace University fpu.com/1099027 If you have any questions about FPU, budgeting, or if you’d like to chat about your business I’m happy to help in any way I can. Shoot an email to rich@photosbyrb.com. We would love to have you join us on this journey. Sign up for my email list to receive regular tips on budgeting and paying off that debt https://awesome-writer-1150.ck.page/61e0dde287.