Skip to main content

Spending Your Money Strategically And Tactically

Lesson 16 from: Building Your Family Portrait Business

Tamara Lackey

Spending Your Money Strategically And Tactically

Lesson 16 from: Building Your Family Portrait Business

Tamara Lackey

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

16. Spending Your Money Strategically And Tactically

Next Lesson: Cash Flow


Class Trailer

I LOVE Photography and I Want to Make Money


From Photographer to Business Owner


Building Your Business To Fit The Life You Want


Business Is Business


Creating a Simple Business Plan - What To Know And What To Skip


Branding And Identity


Significance Of Constantly Marketing


Social Media Marketing


Lesson Info

Spending Your Money Strategically And Tactically

Let's talk about money being a conduit, a major way for you to convey what means the most to you. If you think about that, the money is the money. It's like the floor laying there, it's like the table here. The only meaning is what you're giving to and how you choose to use it in terms of being able to assign value to the things you really, really care about. Since I started switching to this mindset and being able to kind of spend on what matters to me and consciously not spend on what doesn't matter to me. I have seen so many more opportunities come in to my business. We've expanded our investments. We've been able to do more in terms of saving for college for the kids. It's been a real impact, and let me say, tangibly, what I mean by that. When we are being very focused on making sure we direct everything about our energy as it relates to money on what matters to us, I'm going to spend more on things that I used to hesitate on. So, if there's an example, gosh. Coffee keeps coming up...

. Here's a perfect example. Way before we had a coffee shop, which was like a year ago. (laughs) Way before we had a coffee shop, one of the things that my husband and I used to love to do, and we still do in a different way now is to drop the kids off at school and then spend 45 minutes in the morning walking up to get coffee and walking back. I love that we did this for a couple reasons. One, prior to this decision to change our mind not only about money, but each other and the time we spent together. That ties back to that relationship course we did, that two-day CreativeLive Relationships course where it goes into a lot of detail on that, but when we decided to do that, one of the things we noted is that we walked up to get coffee. Let me back up. What we used to do, one of us would drop the kids off and the other would race to work and then we'd flip. Maybe it's your week and it's my week or maybe I have Mondays and you have Tuesdays, but one of us would get the kids out of the door and go to all of the places they needed to go and the other one would just walk out the door before the kids were even up so we could maximize our work time. We did that for a long, long time. What we found was that we would race into our day, one way or the other, we were racing into our days stressed, 'cause you're either, I don't know who's gotten their kids ready for school before, multiple kids? It's one of the hardest things ever. It's one of the hardest things ever. By the time I get into the studio, I'm like, "I just lived seven days and it's only Tuesday." It's a really hard thing to get them out of bed, lunches, blah. By the time that stress point is done, you're just like racing in, but if you didn't do that, if you got out the door in a hurry to get to work, it's 'cause you didn't want to do that part (laughs) and you were trying to leave right away, and so you're also racing into your day. We found ourselves starting our days in a really stressful manner. It's just that kind of crazy thing, so we made a conscious decision to say, "let's take the kids together "every morning, and after we do that, we're gonna walk up, "get coffee, walk back, and then we'll go into our days." What that meant is we were starting our days 45 minutes to an hour later, depending on whose schedule was what every day, so the mindset of that is like, "you do that and you're gonna lose money." Right? You're going to lose money, it's going to translate to having less time at work. You add all that up, if you're saying, basically five hours a week less of work, that seems like that'd be a tangible impact. And also, when you go up to get two coffees, it's like six, $7 'cause I like lattes. (laughs) Every business book in the world will say don't spend money on coffee, what a waste that is. But by thinking about this from an investment perspective, what are we doing? We're investing our peace of mind and our ability to be centered and focused by the time we get to work, in our ability to spend time together, our relationship to invest in just quietly talking without devices or kids or anything. We're investing in exercises, 'cause it's like a 45 minute round trip kind of walk up and back. We're investing in things that actually, like the small luxuries, the small pleasures that make you feel good about living in life. I've just invested in five things that I can think of right now for $7. When you start thinking about it that way, you're like, "why wouldn't I spend $7 a day "for all that benefit?" I'm going to consciously buy, in advance, X amount of coffee until I finally open my own coffee shop because it's worth that investment so much, but if I'm not thinking about it that way, if I'm not changing my mind about money, I just think of that as five hours less work and what? $35 during the week just for coffee? That's a terrible expense. That's a big waste of time and a terrible expense. That's one of the small examples I can give you about changing your mind about money. Another option is, have you ever walked out of one of those really nice stores and you're coming to the, maybe not even that nice, but a Sephora, for instance or any one of the TJ Maxxs or Targets or whatever and you're walking in and then suddenly, you have like lines and lines of last minute things you can buy. You know what I'm talking about? There's a name for that, what is it? Impulse. Known, impulse purchases. Whosever been flagged and stopped by some of those? Right, that's the point. That's why they do that. One of the things I started recognizing is if I'm gonna spend more on investing in things I care about, I need to be super conscious. Like, it doesn't matter how much money I have in the bank. I'm gonna be super conscious from just keeping aligned with this to not spend on things that don't matter to me. That actually is a hard shift, too, because who cares if you pick up a pack of gum and some extra batteries and a Target card or whatever? Except for the fact that if I don't need those things right now and they're not top of mind as major priorities for me, I'm gonna stay with that kind of mindset of I'm not gonna put money over there. If I see a really nice fancy pair of shoes. These are fun ones, but if I see a nice fancy pair of shoes, and shoes don't mean much to me. I don't need one more pair of shoes, but they just look fun and shiny and I wanna get them, I'm going to consciously not spend on them 'cause I don't need them right now. The impact of these decisions, walking up to get coffee and losing five hours of work a week, what did that do? Well, we'd get to work and we'd be calm and centered and able to focus. It's the nice caffeine in our system. Some really good conversations that we actually can share about ways that we can improve each other's business. We're really lucky that way. We're both entrepreneurs and we're always thinking of new ways to strategize and grow our business and we can bounce ideas off each other. And by the time we get to work, we're in a really good place. I can just hunker down and go. I'm not scattered, I'm not frenzied. I got some nice exercise, I got my endorphins moving. On every level, I'm gonna be far more effective in the three hours left before lunch than I would in the four hours I would've had trying to shake it all out and go. Now I'm actually working better and more effectively and making more money because of how much I can hyper-zone in on what I need to know and what I need to do. This is what I mean about changing your mind about money. Looking at every way you're spending something and thinking, "what does this mean to me "and does it matter?" When it comes to my children, having them be in a safe environment, as best I can, try to keep them safe in a community, that means I have to invest more in that home, but feel really good about where they are, that they can run back and forth between the yards and play with each other, and that's just something I wanted from that life vision. I will do that, but now my car is gonna be a pretty moderate car at the best safety rating. I'm not going to get a super expensive car 'cause that doesn't mean as much to me, as long as it's safe, 'cause again, I wanna keep my kids safe. That doesn't mean as much to me as to spend it over here. It's decision point after decision point after decision point. Just constantly saying, "I'm gonna stay consistent here," and then see how the money changes based on the fact that I'm investing in what I care about and I'm super consciously, not at all, in any way investing in the things that don't mean a lot to me. Like our television, you walk into my house. My television is a shocking eight years old. (gasps) It's eight years old. That's like, it could have grandchildren by now. It's a super old TV. But you walk in and you look at it, and how much are we really caring about the main TV? At this point, most people are on Netflix and Hulu, and this and that. Every once in awhile, we'll all gather around to watch a movie, but for the most part, that's not getting a lot of action and I don't really want that to be a centerpiece of our home. I don't wanna invest a lot in something that is encouraging my children to sit more and watch more TV and this and that. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that. My goodness, we all need a time to just usher the kids out to electronics for a minute. I'm just saying, generally speaking, making those decisions accordingly. Can anybody think about a time where they haven't spent on something that might've been a better choice later on? Like, maybe they should've invested in something like that? Yeah? (audience member mumbles) Grab that microphone. Photography related, I bought some triggers for some lights once that were just horrible and I should've just went and invested in something a lot better to begin with. No, no, that's a good thing. Honestly, when it comes to something as practical as gear, I constantly encourage people to invest in one fabulous lens. Don't get three okay lenses and stretch your money across all three okay lenses and get okay results and feel okay about what you're doing. Get one great lens that will last forever. A great lens lasts forever, take good care of it and use it for all the shots, and if you need a zoom, just run closer and run back. But get one great lens that will not only be a really smart purchase, but will very quickly have you thinking, and again, back to mindset, will very quickly have you thinking that you are getting better because your shots are getting better. It'll give you confidence which will parlay into everything. How you build your business, how you communicate with your clients, how you show your work in your portfolio, how much better you think you're doing all because you invested in this one great lens when you could've taken the same money and spread it apart with three okay lenses and took that much longer to get there. That's what I mean about being super conscious about how you're spending your money. You saw, and I did this on purpose, you saw, three separate times in a row, my office in my studio, which I love, but it's an eight by eight foot office. I have enough in there for a 20 by 30 office. Everything's got a really small spot, and I was not gonna take one extra foot to dedicate to that space because it didn't mean much more to me. I didn't need a big office to feel like I'd made it. I didn't need to sit there and have people be able to face me and have a long carpet til you got to there. I didn't need any of that. It didn't matter to me. But I did need order and structure and I was gonna pay extra for those little white boxes where everything goes. Before you can even get down this road, you kinda have to think about what being happy with money looks like for you. What does that even mean? What does it mean to not have to worry about money to feel very comfortable about money? To not have it be a stressor for you. What exactly does that look like for you? Have you actually visualized that and put numbers to it and figured out what you're enough is in terms of when you're chasing money and when you want money and what money you'll need for the next stage of things? Do you know, very specifically, what that means? I did this exercise. My husband and I both sat down together and said, "let's put together a spending plan." And we watch language we use. I think that's part of this, too. It's a spending plan, not a budget. We don't put money at that or spend money on that. We assigned all ours to certain things. It's a huge shift. I'm going to go ahead and do a spending plan for the upcoming holidays. Let's make a plan and assign some dollars to each child based on what we wanna purchase and what we think will matter to them the most. What's gonna be the biggest bang for our buck in terms of impact and experience? Let's be really smart about that. I'm not buy five little cheap things to wrap them up and have five more presents. I don't think that matters to them, and it's kind of a drain of what I can actually spend it on that will matter. Thinking about that for yourself. We did a whole thing where we decided what our spending plan was at the end of the year, at the end of 10 years, by the time we wanna retire, in terms of the kids with college. Some people would call that like a strain financial budget session, but we're like, "awesome. "We don't need this, this, and this and anything after that "let's slow down the work." Why would we overwork? We like being together, we like taking hikes, we like to this and that. I can't believe the amount of people who have a ton of money and still work 'round the clock on something that they okay like. They like good enough. They don't love, they're not obsessive about it. It's just the idea of more, more, more, more, more money. Why? What is your enough? There's this really interesting study done at Princeton's Wilson Woodrow School. It was on a massive study. I think it was 450,000 participants and it was called The Happiness Study. Anybody ever read about this? Oh, it's brilliant. It's so cool, and basically, they took these, almost half a million participants and asked them a couple questions about happiness as it relates to money. One of the questions was about your current happy state. Maybe if you're walking over to get the phone and you stub your toe and you answer it and they're like, "are you happy?" You're like, "hells no! (laughs) "I just stubbed my toe, I am not happy." That's that. The other question is, are you happy in your life, like where you are right now? What you've achieved, who you're with, where you live, what you're doing? How much money you're making, what it can afford for you in terms of that. The idea was how does money affect happiness as you wrap it all up together? And what they found, and there's a whole bunch of intricacies to it, but basically what they found was that $75,000 was the amount. Yeah, and so what that means is for people who make less than $75,000, and again, this is just a dollar figure. You can get intricate on cities and this and that, but people who made less than $75,000 had pain points around money. It affected happiness to be stressed about money, to feel like you had to wait til the next paycheck before you can make certain decisions, to feel like you couldn't go out to dinner, order pizza because you didn't have enough money for it. A day that you really felt like you just need a break, you just need to lay down and you didn't have go find some food and figure it out. That $75,000 number seemed to be a transition point for people. Over that amount, they reported a lot more happiness. Like, that security, being able to manage the stress. It took the sting out of what you can feel when you feel like there's a lot on you as it relates to money. The bank account is low, these bills are coming due, the kids need that, the house is falling apart. That's a lot of stress and sting when you're under a certain amount, but after that, when that sting dissipates and it's not really on you that much, you start to have much higher rates of happiness. Now, what's interesting about that, though, is after that. When you got much over that number, happiness dipped again. And I think that's so cool because after you had your enough and by the time you got to your then some, that's where happiness kind of dripped back down because now you have new problems. More money, more problems, right? You have new problems and some of those new problems meant A, your actual personality came into play a lot more the way you viewed the world than how much money you didn't have. That became a new way of where your happiness came from, but also if you had too much money, you started having questions about the people around you. Significant amounts of money, you started wondering what they wanted you for. Were you really a friend? Were they out to get something? Did they love you for you? All that sort of thing, a whole new host of issues. And here's the other thing. No matter how much money you have, no amount of money protects you from human suffering. It just doesn't. That is never going to be a catch-all fix for anybody. It can help, but at a certain point, you can't do anything for that. At the end of the day, what they realized was that being able to cover your costs really helped, but once you started to get in that next stratosphere, like for instance, you decided you want to buy a mansion, it's a thrill right away, but by the second month, it's just a house. Have you guys ever had that? Been so excited to buy something and then really quickly, you're like, "hmm." Like, "I can't wait for that new camera. "This camera's awesome, this camera's awesome. "Eh, gotta charge my camera." It just dissipates without that. People's response to life circumstances started having significantly more impact than how much money they made. How you responded to what was happening in your life had more of an affect on your happiness than the dollar amount, which is, I think, very interesting. So it goes back to this. What is your enough? I'm not gonna ask you to do a huge transactional account right now, but maybe think to yourself. "I think this amount, if I was making this "at the end of the year on an annual basis, "I'd feel pretty good." Just write down a number for yourself. You don't have to stick to it forever. Just get something down. You don't have to share it, I won't make you say it, 'cause people are weird about money. Just whatever that amount is. And while you're doing that, I'm gonna tell you a brief story that has everything to do with this. I told you about how I left management consultant and I walked into a recruiter's office and I looked at his window, and I thought, "what is this thing you do?" And I became that thing, the executive recruiter and it was 100% commission job. It was my very first 100% commission job and I've never stopped working 100% commission since. Never. If you are a photographer and you run a business and you are the owner, you are in a 100% commission job. That's part of the joy and the threat. There's no ceiling, there's also no floor. 100% commission job. Sitting down, I was like, "gosh, so it's up to me "to figure out how much money I make "and I've gotta even decide what that is. "What's my enough?" And I sat there and I thought, "okay, I left Excentra "making this much and if I could double that, "that'd be amazing." So I took a slip of paper and I wrote that amount on it, and I tucked it in the back of this drawer in this really nice desk that they gave me with this bay window. I shut the drawer and then I went on for the next three months not earning one cent. Not one dollar, nothing. I couldn't close a sale. I was trying really hard to do everything they taught me the way they taught me and it wasn't til about three months in that I thought, "okay, that's not working at all. "Let me figure out how to be myself in this. "Let me have communications that are real and authentic "and not by the script and the playbook "and let me talk to people here one on one "and decide how I'm gonna respond in the moment "and see if that makes a difference "based on following a script of some sort." It made all the difference in the world. At the end of that one year, I pulled that little sheet out and I had done three and a half times the amount. Like, it was crazy. But I don't think I would've even known where I wanted to shoot for, what I wanted to do if I hadn't put a number out that was a bit of a stretch. An idea in my head that I wanted to get to that, 'cause I think if I just sat down and said, "I don't know, I'll see where I go," there was not much drive. There's not even a subconscious drive there and that subconscious is massively powerful. Did you guys write down an enough for yourself? Anybody feel like super shy if I said to you, "share with us?" I love it (laughs), this guy, everybody's like, "nah, I'm fine with that." (audience laughs) I will paint it on the wall. (audience member mumbles) (laughs) That's awesome, but like, I think being able to do that, being very secure in what that amount is and comfortable, makes a difference. One more thing before we leave this part and start getting into tactical things like cashflow, which is just massive, I want you to think about things that you've spent a lot of money on that were worth the value. When we did that three day sales course, I did a three day course called All About Sales here at CreativeLive and we had a section there where we tried to talk about what our blocks are as it relates to, what is stopping you from being able to charge the money you want and get it back, and we're gonna talk about that more when we get into sales tomorrow, but one of the things that kept coming up was, "I don't feel like I would buy "what I'm asking my clients to buy." So that meant you're basically stopping them from paying for what they valued based on what you valued, which has got nothing to do with it. What they spend is none of your business, really. So when you think about that, if you think about the fact that it's none of your business what they spend and what they value and how that's different from what you value, I want you to put it all together in this one thought. Tell me about a time, just a couple of you, that you've spent way more than you ever would've spent on something and it was worth it. It was like the best money ever. Give me a time, give me a thing. I can give you one of mine real quick, by the way. I took my parents out to dinner to an extraordinary expensive vegetarian restaurant. My parents are not vegetarian. My dad believes sausage is a main food group in probably most of them. I love him, I love my dad. He went almost vegan for two months when he came out for the health and energy class we did here and then went right back in. But I took him out to this really expensive restaurant and the bill was insane. I was like, "oh, that's a lot," but we spent three hours talking through every dish and what it tasted like and how it felt and this and that, and by the time the check showed up and I signed it, I was like, "that was awesome." Incredible money spent. Would never pay for that normally, but I love that I did. I felt great to spend that money on something I valued. What else? Who's got one? Yes? And hopefully people at home are thinking of these things, too, yeah. I have two kids and we went to Switzerland for spring break and the time together, but also, them seeing another country and skiing. They constantly ask to go back, which (laughs) is a problem. It's one of the most expensive cities to go to, but it was crazy expensive and it paid so much more than what I paid to them. That's a really good one. I encourage you to think about that, too. What something is, when you spend a lot, and it was worth it to you. If you can keep thinking about that when your clients are doing something. Wes, did you have one? I think it was over here. (laughs) I started photography seven years ago, and I went to a different country. It was Japan with a point and shoot and I came back and I bought and E-PL1 which is (mumbles), is one of the, whatever. Then I jumped in pretty quickly into 5D Mac and bought the 35L and 135L and have never regretted it. I still have those lenses. I sold the camera (mumbles), sold that one. I never regret those investments. Right, well 'cause, again, if you were investing in things that further along the career that you most passionately want, that fits in to the life of your dreams, how would that not be a great expense? Be smart about it. We talked about being patient and ramping up, but it's a great expense.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Tamara Lackey Posing Book Discount
Nations Photo Lab Discount

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

This course was fantastic. I learned more on what I need to improve and change in my business. I especially liked learning how she balances all the things in her life. She is a fantastic teacher who keeps you engaged throughout the course. Thank you creativelive and Tamara for producing such a great course!


I thoroughly enjoyed this class, Tamara Lackey is an amazing individual and trainer! I loved what she said about not letting ourselves be diminished by someone else's narrow view... This class touches on many business related topics, I had many "aha" moments and feel excited and committed to tackle various aspects of my business in small steps!! Thanks for sharing so much of you!!!

Dewitt Hardee

This is a great class. Tamara is such a great instructor and the subject matter is relevant and useful. Tamara is really the key, her personality seems like a ray of sunshine.

Student Work