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Get a Job or Do What I Love? – Guest Post by Mrs. LAMF

This post was written by my free-spirit wife about our recent life-change. Be sure to give us your advice on our situation!

We all know that there are two types of people in a financial relationship. If you have been keeping up with this blog, you know that Mr. LAMF is definitely ‘the Budgeter’. He is the person with the monthly stats on every month, can recite Pi to the nth decimal, is frugal, makes planned purchases, and has a four-year plan to pay off the mortgage. Talking about investments and real estate make him giddy like a child getting cotton candy at the fair.

Enter ‘the Free-Spirit’ (For Mr. LAMF this was in a coffee shop on a blind date, yes we were set up); personas number two in the relationship. All Mr. LAMF has known about finance was turned upside down by the person who is a spontaneous, an emotional spender, flies by the seat of their pants, needs the pretty colorful charts in the monthly budget report, and has no idea what the ‘Four-Year Plan’ looks like.

As you can imagine the first couple months of our marriage (after dating for only 10 months across the country) the money issue was hard to crunch. Finding a place where both of us could meet in the middle was like pulling teeth. Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University was the life ring we both needed to get on the same page and work together to be responsible stewards of our finances.  Since we have made the decision to move forward as a TEAM, we have been able to pay off our debt, move across the country, purchase a house, and make sizeable renovations on the new purchase. Yep, we are on track with the Four-Year Plan.

Here Comes the Wrench

About two weeks ago, Mr. LAMF informed you that I found myself unemployed. While I took the emotional route by buying a soft, warm (did I say expensive) sweater to cuddle up in to console myself…I think I nearly gave Mr. LAMF an aneurism. He did a great job being sensitive and supportive, but I know inside he was crunching numbers and thinking about what the new budget will look like with only one income.  I know he has thought about how this will affect the plan of paying off the mortgage in four years too.

Although a wrench was thrown into our budget, we felt confident in the fact that we live below our means and do not have large amounts of debt looming at a time like this (especially given the fact that I did not qualify for unemployment). It meant a little more penny pinching and watching the renovation spending, but not something we will lose much sleep over.

Two Options

The main place where this will affect us financially is in the plan to pay off the house at turbo speed.  My job income would have allowed us to make double, or more, payments on our mortgage. With that gone, we have some choices to make.

I have the opportunity to branch into my already existing photography and design business, which is still in the initial stages. Let’s call this Option No. 1.  It will take some investment to make this into a sustainable income that would replace the lost income, but it is truly something I love.  While this would be the fun route, realistically it does not have a huge ROI in the first few months, maybe even years.

The initial expenses would be:

  • Setting up my website (purchasing domain name and hosting fees)
  • Business cards
  • Finishing the studio in our house
  • Marketing (bridal shows, professional memberships, etc.)
  • Possible additional equipment

Option No. 2, slightly less glamorous, would definitely pack a punch to our plan. This option would consist of finding a stable full-time job to replace my income while still continuing to invest and grow my business on the side. It would also restore Mr. LAMF and I to the esteemed DINK status (Dual Income, No Kids) where we could really do some debt-busting damage.

Initial expenses:

  • New shoes and blouse to go with my interview suit 🙂 (maybe, we’ll see if this is in the budget!)

So here is the ultimate question…do I continue the hustle for 3-4 more years so we can live out our dreams free of financial restrictions (within reason), or do I start living out my dreams now and sacrifice our financial goals for 10+ additional years?

I am interested to see what the readers think of this scenario.  The early years of the mortgage can be critical to the amount of interest you pay. Should I risk sacrificing additional interest to pursue my business? Should I polish up the resume and get back on track for the Four-Year Plan?



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.


  1. Hey there Mrs.! I love your style of writing, your creative side certainly shows through. I get a giggle when I think of what Dave would say if you called his studio and asked the same question.

    Starting a photography business is not the tough part. I know several established photographers who are still struggling to get repeat business.

    I think you answered your own question when you said that you could build this business on the side while you worked. This would allow you to have a job AND do what you love. You might even consider getting a JOB that included photography. Seasonal photography jobs are available everywhere right now. There are a number of other types of positions positions which require photography, like banks and insurance adjuster positions (disappointing with no studio, I know)

    Bottom line, is that you are just one job away from being homeless. Yes you have a good cushion, but they eaten away very quickly. If you used your side business to build your business a cushion, then in 4 years if you hit no other bumps in the road, you could have a house that was paid for, a start of your own businesses and a cushion to help you grow it quickly.

    This is just my take, but I know too well that income can be lost very quickly.

    • The thought of being one job away from being homeless is scary. Having something at least part-time would help that cushion so we could build up back to our larger emergency fund.

      I have never looked in my area for jobs that incorporate photography…that is a great idea! 🙂

  2. I think putting in the extra effort upfront to get the business going could potentially put you light years ahead of the income from getting another job. You could slow the house payments for now until the busines income picks up. And from what I know about that business, it shouldn’t be too long. I have a few friends that make great money in photography. It’s all about building the clients. Plus I went on your FB page and the pics look awesome! Good luck!

    • Thanks for the compliment FSYA! I have definitely gotten a lot of interest just by word-of-mouth already from family and friends. My goal initially is to build a killer portfolio and use referral incentives to build my client base.

      The difficult thing about the photography industry is that it is really saturated, since the release of user-friendly DSLR cameras. It makes it possible for anyone to be able to take awesome pictures. I will have to find a way to stand out from the crowd and be unique!

      • I wouldn’t say “Any one.” I am one person who would pay for someone to show me how to use a “user friendly’ camera. You might want to host a class at your local community center..a great way to get your name out and build that company savings account.

  3. I definitely agree that it is hard when you are forced to adjust your financial goals, but the question that I often pose is whether you will always wonder “what if” when looking back on it. If you feel like you will regret not doing the business, go for it. Heck, even if you don’t feel like you will regret it, why not take a risk for a little bit. It sounds like you are secure enough for a while to test the waters. If it doesn’t seem to be growing like you hoped, you can always try something else later. Shoot for the stars!

    • Thanks 20’s Finances, I can definitely relate to your shoot for the stars mentality. I have always been a big dreamer. The tricky part now is having two people in a financial relationship and remembering that the decisions I make will affect him too. You are right though, I can imagine looking back and regretting not taking advantage of the position we are in right now.

    • I feel the same as 20’s finances. You don’t want to end up asking yourself that “what if” question. I think we need to seize opportunities when they open up to us because we will never know where they will take us unless we give them a shot. I have operated on this mentality in my life and I have done things I never dreamed of. Best of luck with everything and thanks for writing a post. It was great to read an article with a different style and spin. Hopefully you will post again.

  4. Wow, I have been in your shoes. I was laid off from a respectable position when I was 27. My income at the time was very good and I had saved up a substantial amount of money. I decided to go into business for myself and did fairly well for a year or two before I realized all of the headaches that came with running a business. You need a good attorney to set up an S-corp and a good accountant, make sure you keep track of everything. Personally, I decided to go back into the corporate world. Today, I am a Partner in a small firm which for me was a great way to end up.
    If I was in my 20’s my advice would be very similar to the above responses. I would say do it, you may regret it later. Since I have lived this scenario my advice would be not to rush into it.
    My advice would be to go with Option #2. This gives you more flexibility today (pay off the bills and keep investing in photography) and it gives you more flexibility in the future. Build up the resume more with the full-time job in case running your own business is not for you then you will have a fall-back career.
    You only live once but you still have a lot of living left to go. Yes, you are a DINK now but soon you may want to become a SIK (single income with kids). I am a SIK x 4. To have the flexibility to be a stay at home Mom with no debt and be a photographer on the side is an awesome choice that many people would love to have.
    *I have assumed you will want children. I apologize if I have offended you if you did not want children.

    • I appreciate your experienced advice David! I have supported my income by being a consultant and freelancing previously this year and it was a lot of work to keep track of everything.

      (PS – I like your disclaimer! :D)

  5. I am definitely like your husband when it comes to planning finances to the nth degree. But I am going to deviate from my usual mentality and say go for it to start the new business. It is much easier to do when you can be focused and not dragged down by a job. You are also at a good point in your life to take a risk. Later on it becomes much more difficult.

    • I agree Dave, it is almost impossible to commit 100% to starting a business while being occupied with a full-time job (and rennovating a house too!). Thanks for the insight!

  6. Why does it have to be one or the other? Why can’t you get a part time job to calm Mr. LAMF while working the other half of the week on your business?

    • Great idea Evan, that would calm him down a little. 🙂

  7. Do the photography. There is nothing wrong with doing what you love! I have a four year degree and can’t bear to think of leaving a job that I love….at that fabulous place Mrs. LAMF bought that cozy sweater. Money shouldn’t run your life and simply can stress you out if you focus on it excessively. My spouse has been laid off of multiple jobs and we are deep into our home renovation as well, but we take it a little bit at a time and house payments are just a fact of life. If you spend all your time obsessing about your four year plan, and never take the time to enjoy life then you will have regrets. I don’t mean blow your income or be frivilous with your spending, but treating yourselves as a couple now and then will feel great! You are an incredibly talented photographer and you should do whatever makes you the most happy! Tell Mr. LAMF that ‘a happy wife is a happy life’ 🙂 love you!

    • True – a ‘happy wife is a happy life’, but both the Mr. and I are on the same page with our goals and know that this change could alter when they are acheived.

      I should probably clarify that the reason we want to pay off the house so quickly (compared to most) is because we want to invest in a business idea that we have. It is not simply to be ‘debt free’ (although Derek does love the thought). Our end goal is not to pay off the house, that is simply a benchmark on the way to our bigger goal!

      Thanks for the compliment, the comment, your love and support! 🙂

  8. I think you should continue to seek some type of job whether full or part time. Now is the time when you actually have time to work as you are still building your business. It may also take some time to find that job also. While your looking you can work on the photography business. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you have to have a morgage, I am not saying to make it drag out forever but there is also a marriage relationship here. Take some time out for yourselves also, have some fun together! It doesn’t have to be an elaborate vacation but you have to make some memories along the way. Go bowling, go out with friends for dinner. Go on mini trips close to home. I just think if you are waiting to be mortgage free and living so tight until later years, so much time has been lost. We know not what the future holds but we know who holds the future! I am not a financial wizzard, but I have mortgage and loan experience, (which by the way are paid off). I also have “life” experience. Good luck with whatever you decide to do Mrs. L.

    • Good advice Mrs. Mom. 🙂 Like I said in the comment above, the reason for paying off the house is not simply to get rid of a mortgage, but is a mini-goal on the way to our big goal.

      You are right that we will never get this time back. I am starting to lean towards taking a jump to the business…

  9. Oh tell him to calm his nerves, this is only one of many financial situations you will be in throughout your life together! Hear that Mr. LAMF?? Live Evan says why not do both? I am now in my 3rd career, and pulling myself out of what felt like a financial nightmare! You will survive whatever comes your way – just have to consistantly make adjustments to your life, in all ways, not just financial! so what you do not get your house paid off in 4 years? that is a bit too aggressive if you ask me!

    • I relayed your message to him. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  10. To be honest, I would suggest that you focus on growing your business over finding another job that you don’t like. However, I would need more details before I can be confident in my advice.

    If you can be comfortable with one income, and also be able to invest in your business, then go for it! It may be slow at first, but if you are doing what you love, and you are good at it, then the potential to earn more is there!

    • Agreed Khaleef, I have been in a situation where I did not like a job and it carried into every aspect of my life. It is surprising how easy it is to do something that you really enjoy for a living. I wish more people could realize that.

      As for our situation, we will be fine if we continue to stick to the budget that we have and not add additional payments towards the mortgage. We still have our emergency fund, although it is smaller since we have been renovating the new house. Once the big projects are completed, we will get that back up to create a larger cushion. I can be job optional if we keep living the way we do now, but we were hoping to change the budget once the renovations were completed to eliminate the mortgage. So we would have to alter the financial goals in a few months if I choose not to ‘get a real job’.

  11. I actually had to choose between getting a job or doing what you love. With my wife’s consent, (after begging on my knees)she gave me the go signal. But at the same time gave me a deadline till end of this month to bring money to our home.

    • Setting a deadline or goal sounds like a great idea. Were you able to bring in the income within only a month?! If so, I would love to hear your story. 🙂

  12. Under the best circumstances, finding a job will take months. There is no immediate solution! How long will it take to get the business going? If it takes just a few months, it may be a better chooice. You may be better off in the long run!

    • I disagree Krantcents…there are imediate solutions. I have done a few shoots and freelance projects already to bring in some money for the moment. Also, I could walk to any retail store tomorrow and get hired for holiday help (I have done this before when money was tight in college) if I were really desperate.

      Going about the job search can be tricky, but if you do it right (this is my Career Services experience speaking) you will yield results. A key component is finding a way to standout and by meeting the right people (network, volunteer, go to community activities, etc.)

  13. I think you should work on your photography business, and if you feel the financial pressure, look for a part time job that will help with the income. That way you can fulfill your dream of being an entrepreneur, and your financial goals are just offset a bit, not as much as not bringing in any income. Don’t fret, and I love that your mom and sister-in-law weighed in too 🙂 Know that you have support, from your family, friends, and Mr. LAMF’s blogger buddies from Yakezie 🙂 We’re rooting for you guys!

    • Thanks for the positive support Briana! It does feel good to have family and friends standing in my corner. 🙂

  14. Hey there, I would go with #1. Going out on your own is extremely difficult and life will get in the way. You need to do it now while you can.
    If it doesn’t work out, you can always search for an employment. Good luck!

    • Thanks for the comment RB40!

  15. Live out your dreams. There is no meaning of anything if you haven’t lived your dream. Do what your heart says and I am sure it would go with my suggestions.

    • I am overwhelmed by the number of people that are saying to go for the business!

      It is true, when you life is over and you look back, will your dreams have died because you didn’t let them live? I hope not! Thanks for the comment. 🙂

  16. I actually agree with RB40: do it now. Because years later you will be looking back and asking yourself What If. We don’t get that many chances to do what we really want, and some of us end up regretting later. It is going to be hard, but nothing is easy in life. Good Luck!

    • That is true, the road to success (whatever that may be for each individual) is usually twisted and tough!

  17. Tough choice!! My first thought was to get a job and build the photography thing on the side. If you can really get the house paid off in 4 years then that’s pretty cool.

    But really, only you can make this choice. What are you secretly hoping everyone will say?

  18. Secretly, I am leaning towards diving into the business! It is already set-up, but I haven’t had much time to invest in it during the last 8 months on account of my job. Would it be awesome waking up every morning and doing something that I think is fun – YES! 🙂

    I am surpised at the number of people that gave that recommendation; I believe it was the majority. A lot of people seem to have regrets that they did not get to experience. I hope they are inspired by my choice to go after your dreams too!

  19. It’s a no-brainer, go for the photography business. Take the business side seriously though and educate yourself as much as you can. Business plans, niche research, whatever it takes. (In other words, it will be a lot more than just photography!)

    Also, didn’t problogger or someone like that start off with a photography site? You have all kinds of options, so go see what is out there!

    Keep us posted- you can do it!

    • Thanks for the advice and support Kris!

  20. I would take the 3-4 year option. 3-4 years is nothing if your dreams are waiting on the other side of it.

    • I see your point YFS. We were definitely able to tough out the year plus of penny pinching and paying off debt.

    • I really appreciate the article link World of Finance. 🙂 There is so much more behind a photography business than taking pictures. My favorite part is the editing process, which is good because that is a large chunk of the pie chart.

  21. Wow… not an easy choice. I postponed a few things in my life in order to be able to accomplish others…. but I wish now I hadn’t. You’ll never know the value until after… and even then, you only have one side of that reality, so will you really know? I wish you well whatever you decide.

    • Thanks for the well-wishes Doctor Stock. A lot of people seem to reverberate that they look back on things and wish they had done something else. I hope I can look back on my life and have no regrets.

  22. Not an easy decision at all. If it were me, I would get a new job and continue to build the side photography business. Once you get a steady work, then consider doing it full time.

    • I think that may be the best route for us at this time. It will allow us to still stay ahead financially and for me to be able to invest in the business. I think I might at least try to find something part time for now or do more freelance design projects.

  23. I’d definitely use this option to pursue your dreams! You have a choice since Derek works. If Derek didn’t wrk, then unfortunately no.

    I would definitely not work if my spouse could bring in the bucks to support us. Best that at least one of us is happiest!

    • Yes, I am so fortunate to have Derek still working and be sound financially to be able to do something I love. I don’t think I will take this opportunity for granted!

  24. If you have real talent with photography and you love it then this layoff can be a gift. Most of us won’t act on our dreams unless we get a swift kick in the rear. You got that. Forget money. By following a career you enjoy you can be setting yourself up for life to be happy.

    • Yes, action is key! Most people miss out on following their dreams because they are never afraid to actually make something happen. I can definitely say that I am a doer, so once I make up my mind to make this business my full-time career it will happen. 🙂

  25. Since you’re already set up in your business, I say go for the photography! All you really have to invest is your time and a little money, but doing something you love will bring you lots of happiness and will eventually lead to a wonderful business. Good luck!

    • Passion is another key component to a business. If you truly love what you do, it will show in your quality of work and customer service. I think I am ready to bring happiness to others too….my business model is to make photography (for weddings especially) affordable for people, but not skimp on service or quality. I do this mainly by cutting out middle-man mark-ups for printing, etc. So, it is a win-win for the clients and myself. 🙂

  26. What a decision!

    I always go for choice #1, but it’s your decision, not mine. Someone once told me to flip a coin. Heads you go with #1, tails with #2. When the coin is flipping, you know which you’re pulling for. Never look at the coin unless you truly can’t choose. Do what your heart tell you.

    That said, there’s a huge difference between loving the product of a business and running a business full time. Sadly, most people enter a business to work in that trade but spend most of their time managing resources, people, marketing and budgets. That’s what you need to love if you’re going to have a full time business.

    I loved the book THE E MYTH by Michael Gerber. It’s a quick read and should be available at the library. It might help you decide if running the business full time is actually a good idea.

  27. Thanks for the advice Average Joe Money! Mr. LAMF has been bothering me to read that book for a while. 🙂 I will have to do that.

    I do enjoy the business component, and have not overlooked how my business will need to be put together and run. I think I was born an entrepreneur, and that is something that will help me in the long run. 🙂

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