Do What You Love: Where to Get the Money


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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