Do What You Love: Where to Get the Money

find the money to do what you love

I have this theory that God doesn’t give us passions just to screw with us. I believe that we are born this way – whatever that way may be – for a reason, and that it is our job to find a way to do what we love.

But how are we supposed to pay for it?

It’s all well and good to believe that you should do what makes you happy, but it can be hard to figure out exactly how you’re supposed to do that in the real world. I was not born an heiress and I didn’t marry a rich man. We have yet to win the lottery, despite Jared’s valiant efforts to buy a ticket several times a year. Neither one of us has a college degree and we make a solid five figures between the two of us each year. No one in our family has agreed to stop eating and the children insist on eating multiple times per day. And yet here we are, about to embark on a year of traveling full time, with only one of us working as a freelance writer.

There is always a way.

All you have to do is think really hard about what you want and eventually that way will just appear to you. Like magic!

No, not really.

Doing what you love isn’t some mystical, magical, abstract idea. It’s a real possibility when you commit to taking action to make it happen. Positive thinking, visualization, and the Law of Attraction are all tools that I highly recommend anyone incorporate into their life. But you also have to be willing to take practical steps.

These are some of those steps.

How to Afford to Do What You Love

Find out how much it would cost to do what you love.

It’s impossible to make a plan if you don’t know what you’re working towards. Aside from that, chances are really good that you’ll discover that doing what you love is a hell of a lot cheaper than you initially imagined. One of my first dreams that I decided to stop putting off a couple of years ago was to finally visit New York. I did it for about $1,000. We’ve estimated that this year of travel will cost us about $46,000, or $3,900 a month. That’s less than what we spend to live our “normal life” for a year.

Pull out a pen and paper (or a spreadsheet), and figure out exactly how much money you have to have to do that thing you’re always dreaming about.

Of course, this requires putting that thing into some specific, tangible terms. Is your passion photography? Fantastic – do you need a camera, classes, and a certain amount of hours a week to enjoy that? Do you dream of writing a book? OK, how much time do you need to set aside and what expenses would be associated with that? You’ll need to force yourself to break out of the “someday, if I had the money and the time” mentality. You should also let go of the notion that you have to figure out “what you love forever and ever, Amen.” What, exactly, do you want to do next? Put a price on it.

Make a budget.

I mentioned recently that I hated the idea of a budget, but it got a lot easier when I had a reason. Use a budget to make a specific plan for saving towards your previously-defined passion price tag. That will help you set a timeline. Imagine being able to turn “someday I will climb Mt Everest” into “I’m going to climb Mt Everest in the summer of 2012.” When you make a budget and factor in saving every month, you can use your calculator and high school math to figure out how soon you’ll be able to actually do what you love.

Once you have a goal, cutting expenses doesn’t feel like a sacrifice as much as progress. Do not underestimate the power of cutting expenses. The easiest way for a business, family, or individual to have more money is to spend less money. We saved over $1,100 in 8 months by cutting off the cable.

This post talks more about how to make a budget.

Look for alternate means to the same end.

A lot of people have this idea that the only way to experience a big dream is to work hard, save a bunch of money, stop working, and then live the dream. We’ve been told over and over again that we’re supposed to work our butts off for 40 years so that we can enjoy our retirement when we’re in our 60s. That’s one way, but it’s not the only way.

Keep in mind that the goal is to do what you love, not to pay for doing what you love. If you do have to pay for it – or part of it – that’s OK, but makes sure you’re differentiating between the means and the ends. There are multiple ways to get to the same place, and some routes cost less than others. For example, a lot of the travel I’ve done in the last two years has been deeply discounted or free because of my work at UpTake, a travel website. I couldn’t support myself on the income I make writing for them, but I have gotten to do what I would be doing if I had extra money, without having to actually make more money.

Find more money.

You’ve got a clearly defined goal and you’ve used a budget to create a timeline. Now you can accelerate that timeline by adding more money to the pot. Where are you going to find more money?

  • Sell your stuff. You don’t have to sell all of your possessions, but think about selling the stuff you don’t use, don’t wear, and don’t like. Take a quick inventory of your closet and your kitchen to find items you have duplicates of – do you really need two measuring cups and three pairs of black pumps?
  • Downsize. Could you live with a smaller house or older car? Maybe you could get by with one car instead of two? Less drastic downsizing might be cutting down the minutes on your cell phone plan or switching to the cheaper gym membership. Read your contracts to make sure that you actually are saving money overall by making any changes to long-term commitments.
  • Get another job. I am not suggesting you work your life away, but maybe you can spend your evenings doing freelance work instead of watching TV. Offer to work overtime at your current job for a few months or sign on to do seasonal work. I do not recommend taking on another job in order to maintain the status quo, but it’s a great short-term solution when you’re working towards a specific goal.

Yes, that’s really it.

You may be reading this and thinking “well, duh. None of this is revolutionary information.” And it’s not. It’s not supposed to be. There is no magical secret to living your dreams that smarter people have discovered and you need to pay $9.99 to understand.

You just need to know that it is possible.

Maybe seeing the steps laid out will help you do that.

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  1. Loukia says:

    You do inspire me! I think I’m scared of change, and failure. What if? I don’t know. I do believe things happen for a reason and I believe that we can succeed in what we want in life… it’s just getting there that’s hardest. And the sacrifice… sometimes, there is nothing more scary!

    • Miss Britt says:

      Being afraid of change and failure is totally natural.

      I’d love to sit and have drinks with you and find out more about what you’re sort of kind of wishing for and dreaming about.

  2. Tina Sutherland says:

    I am so glad you talked about that this goal doesn’t have to for the rest of your life, it just has to be what you want to do NEXT. Chasing a dream and getting there doesn’t mean you have now arrived and must do this thing till you die. That can just as much of a trap as never going after the dream at all.
    I have ended up doing wildly different things in my life, things nobody saw coming, least of allme. But each was a dream I followed and a was the right “next” thing for me. And since I’m only 55 I suspect there my be a few more bends in the road. I hope folks stay open to the next big thing.

    • Miss Britt says:

      “Chasing a dream and getting there doesn’t mean you have now arrived and must do this thing till you die. That can just as much of a trap as never going after the dream at all.”

      YES! I think it’s especially dangerous for a certain type of personality (like mine) that changes their mind often and ends up being afraid of looking flighty.

  3. I like remembering that Serving others is serving yourself. It keeps me on track.
    When I work to help others I know that it will benefit me in the end and what is better is that I love helping other people, it makes me very happy.

    With this in mind I can do what I love and get paid for it.
    That is what I am doing with my blog and business and I love every minute of it.

  4. Anissa says:

    I have a rule: Make promises I have no way of keeping. It serves as the motivating factor when I might slack off.

    Whether it’s true your family, co-workers or some strangers you just met, it can drive to work and work HARD.

    • Anissa says:

      “Whether it’s true your FOR YOUR family, co-workers or some strangers you just met, it can drive YOU to work and work HARD.”

      I hadn’t had coffee yet.
      shut up.
      you’re fired.

    • Miss Britt says:

      Umm… this makes me nervous as someone who counts on you to pay them! lol

  5. Great post! I love the new directon you’ve taken your blog. It’s like your blog grew up overnight. It’s a big girl now! I have a suggestion for you to make more money (not that you need it or want it or anything) have you ever considered being a personal coach to aspiring bloggers or free lance writers? If so, I would like to be your first client. I admire your work, (adore your mother..teehee.) and need some accountability, directions and coaching. Bet there’s a lot more like me out there. Think about it…I’m serious!

    • Miss Britt says:

      You are so sweet.

      Oddly enough, I’m actually a certified coach. Went through pretty extensive training another lifetime ago. :-)

      What do you want help with? Just email me and I’m happy to help just because, silly!

    • Vikki says:

      Maybe I need this too. I’m a lost little lamb.

  6. Nanna says:

    I think people gwt stuck on the thought that “dreams” are something that have no connection with reality, like, things that could NEVER be reality. Silly, silly us. Dreams should be PREVIEWS of reality.

    This is good, Britt. I love it when you’re practical.

    • Miss Britt says:

      I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently.

      I wish there was another word for dreams that wasn’t as airy fairy and overworked as passion.

  7. Such a wonderful reminder to think about what we want and make it happen. Now.

  8. FireMom says:

    When I left the news station in 2006, I had one teeny-tiny, miniscule, laughable writing contract. My husband and I sat down and did our budget. We gave up quite a few things at that time, cable, other unnecessary accounts like Sirius and eating at restaurants. (By the way, the latter of which brought about our meal planning which has been one of my favorite things ever. Not only do we save money but I get to make awesome food. Regularly.) Over the years, as I’ve picked up more and more and eventually steady work, we added stuff back into our lives.

    I’m so glad we took that step. And that’s usually what I talk about when people ask me questions about working from home/following dreams/etc. You’ve got to be willing to sacrifice a little bit to get to where you want to be.

    Lovely post, Britt.

    • Miss Britt says:

      “You’ve got to be willing to sacrifice a little bit to get to where you want to be.”

      YES. Absolutely. For us we had to sacrifice a lot of TIME when I was making the transition from regular work to freelance work. That sucked sometimes, but it wasn’t as bas you’d think because I gave up on time to watch TV and things like that.

  9. Britt you are in the back of my head every day as I am aim to eliminate 50% of the stuff we live with. Please come when you are in the Carolinas…now we have room!

    I love this post. I am telling people this all the time. If you can pinpoint what is most important and work towards that it is possible. A lot of the other stiuff might need to go away, but we caqn do what we love.

  10. Andie says:

    So inspiring! I too have an incurable belief that anything is possible. Glad to hear you do too!

  11. Megan says:

    I hope this is the first of a series. Money is always a consideration, but there are so many other “roadblocks” that we throw up for ourselves.

  12. PS: If you are looking to write a book, there are tons of grants out there. Just Google “writers grants [your state]“. I’m thinking of applying for one. You know. If “what’s next” is “edit that book and get an agent to sell it!”

    • Oh. My other comment got eaten. Damn!

      Okay, well, it basically said “thank you for this and the budget post,” and that I’m excited for you guys! Two weeks to go!

      • Okay, found it (this is how you know I’m neurotic):

        Finally, I can comment! I’ve been reading all of your posts on my BlackBerry — which for some reason doesn’t let me comment on any blogs anymore — and they’ve all been very inspiring and helpful. This one, though, is pretty damn timely. I just lost my job — long story — and although I’m enjoying not being stressed out to the point of nausea every day, sometime soon I’m going to have to figure out what’s next. I’d really, really like “what’s next” to be something I love.

        I made a budget for the next month using your spreadsheet idea (slightly modified to fit my needs, of course), and now I’m going to use this post to figure out “what’s next.” THANK YOU.

        I’m so excited for you guys. I read the post about Jared’s last day, too, and I can’t believe that you guys are almost ready to go. I’m very much looking forward to reading about your adventures.

        Hugs and love.

        • Miss Britt says:

          SO excited this has been helping!!

          And I did NOT know there were writer grants! That might come in REAL handy at the end of this trip. ;-)

  13. Lisa says:

    This is where I am right now, and I’ve been considering the second job for a while. It’s not something I’d like to do long-term but it might be a short-term solution. I just have to find the right thing.

    • Miss Britt says:

      It might help if you had an X amount savings goal, and then you could look at each job from the standpoint of “I’d have to work Y amount of hours at this job to reach X.” Maybe?

      I think you’ll find the right thing. Have you thought about you looking for jobs as a photographer’s assistant? Even working in one of those portrait studios!

  14. the muskrat says:

    I was just thinking this morning that I need to spend some time alone writing down where I want to be in 5 years and then figure out how to get there. It’s just hard when one’s vocation is tied to a certain geographic area and there are a bunch of children involved. But, not impossible.

    • Miss Britt says:

      It’s not impossible. But yes, it is hard when you’re The Responsible One to shut all of those “but! and what about? and this!” roadblocks down long enough to even flesh out the desired goal.

      I think Jared struggles with that even more than I do, actually.

  15. Best of all, sometimes doing what I love is FREE. Writing costs nothing but time. :)

  16. Debra says:

    I loved this: “You should also let go of the notion that you have to figure out “what you love forever and ever, Amen.” What, exactly, do you want to do next?”

    Thank you. I needed to hear that.

  17. Sheila says:

    Our plan involved a whole lot of “Nike Logic”, meaning we decided to “Just do it!”

    We stopped terrorizing ourselves with deadlines and how everyone else did things and just did it. This meant that sometimes, even though we had a plan, it didn’t feel like it and we were kinda flying by the seat of our pants but that’s okay.

    It may have taken us a little bit longer to get there but we’re here and THAT’s what matters.

    • Miss Britt says:

      Every single one of your comments right now just makes me SO DAMN HAPPY.

      I wonder if you remember some of the things you said even less than a year ago when you were so afraid you’d never get that and that it was all falling apart. And yet, here you are! And now it might seem like “well duh, of course we are,” but it’s been so freaking amazing to watch.

  18. ally bean says:

    Once upon a time my husband and I took a midlife career crisis year off. People thought we were crazy to both drop out of the working world, but it was the best thing we ever did. Being on our own away from the burden of work obligations, we gained perspective on our lives and had time to decide what we really valued. When our year off was up, we both were comfortable with what we were going to do next. No frenzy, just focus.

    I will caution anyone who is considering taking a year off that: 1) like you, we had a budget that we stuck to; and 2) we both were willing when our year off ended, if necessary, to move anywhere in the world. If we hadn’t decided on those guidelines up front, I don’t think that our year off would of worked as well as it did.

    • Miss Britt says:

      I’m glad to hear you mention the being open part. People keep asking us what we’re going to do when we’re done and we keep saying we don’t know. What we really mean is that we have some ideas, but we are purposely deciding NOT to plan for what happens at the end of this because we want to be willing to go wherever this road takes us.

  19. PrincessJenn says:

    Loving your perspective on this. It so interesting to watch someone follow their dream rather than adhering to the ‘dreams after retirement’ rule.

    • Miss Britt says:

      I really, really hope more people do the same. And that doesn’t have to mean quitting your job and hitting the road, you know? That’s just ONE version of it.

  20. I absolutely love the idea of the RV. My husband and I plan on taking a trip across the US in an RV as well with our children down the road. It won’t be for a year though but a month or so. I can’t wait for that trip. We actually packed all of our stuff in storage before we got married and traveled for 7 months with us and our two dogs … it was awesome and I’m so grateful for that time. You will have so much fun and so many memories to look back on. I am so excited to follow your travels! Best of luck to you!

    • Miss Britt says:

      Wow. The idea of a trip like that with just Jared and I sounds amazing. We didn’t even have 7 months alone together PERIOD before we had kids! lol

  21. i do love that you are inspiring others to do what they want, to be happy. sometimes our dreams seem so large that we think there is no possible way to get there and yet you break it down, reminding everyone that dreams truly can be reality rather simply.
    as one of my favorite aunts would say, “just like eating an elephant. one bite at a time.”

    • Miss Britt says:

      I love that you went back and commented on every post you missed while you were on the road.

      I want you to know that I see you doing that, I know why you’re doing it, and I love you for it. You’re an incredible friend, Becky. xo

      And YES! I try to remember that elephant line a lot because I am easily overwhelmed.

  22. IzzyMom says:

    I wish I had been as wise as you when I was in my twenties and thirties :)

  23. sing it sister! xoxoox

  24. Greg Spring says:

    Great article, made me think about what I was truly working towards.

  25. Jared Karol says:

    Britt, I don’t know you other than snarky email exchanges and commenting on each other’s blog posts, so I really hope I get to meet you and your family on your travels across the country. This is really inspiring. And you are awesome!

  26. Jackie says:

    I found your article very inspirational. I think alot of us are afraid to take that first step towards our dreams. I know I had been for the longest time. It is amazing what we can accomplish once we start taking the practical steps towards our dreams and goals.

  27. [...] there’s one thing that has inhibited my pursuits of happiness in the past even more than a lack of money, it has been a lack of time. Despite the fact that we all have the exact same amount of time in [...]

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