“The Best Thing I’ve Learned About Money”
Written by Mary Marantz of Justin & Mary
Mary Marantz is an internationally renowned photographer, author, educator & speaker who travels the world teaching, & inspiring other creative business owners. She has been named a “Legend of Light” by Profoto as well as one of the Top 100 photographers by SLR Lounge & Brandsmash. She has been featured in many high end publications, including Martha Stewart, Well Wed & Inside Weddings. She is also the founder & Editor in Chief of twin wedding blogs The Black Tie Bride & The Well Groomed Groom. In addition to photographing weddings, Mary has also taught workshops worldwide including London, Germany & Australia, and taught thousands of photographers online in her courses including The J&M Lighting Course, The Art of Authentic Posing, and the brand new J&M Business Course.
Last year, Mary signed on as an author with the prestigious DCJA agency and is in the process of writing her first book. But on her best days, you can find her at home by the water with her husband Justin and their very fluffy golden retriever, Atticus… and drinking way more coffee than any normal person should!
As Seen In: Business Insider, Thrive Global, CNN, Huffington Post, MSN, Brit+Co, Bustle, Hack the Entrepreneur, My Creative Empire, Brides, Rangefinder, Martha Stewart Weddings, PDN, Rising Tide Summit, Town & Country, Inside Weddings, Goal Digger Podcast, Mind Your Own Business Podcast, Six Figure Photographer, and more!
I was seven years old the first time I saw my Dad cry.
Seven years old when I crouched hidden in the living room of our single wide trailer, peering into the next room where my parents sat slumped at the kitchen table by the phone (the kind you may or may not remember, that was connected by an actual cord to the actual wall) …and that phone just wouldn’t stop ringing.
Anyone who grew up poor knows that when that phone starts ringing, it isn’t a good thing. Because it means that there are people who want things from you. Bill collectors and people who wear ties to work, who always want more than you have to give. The demanding ones who seem to have a gift for knowing when there is more going out than there is coming in.
Maybe because there was always more going out than there was coming in.
It was maybe the tenth call of the evening that did him in. The final straw that broke his back, as I watched this giant, larger-than-life, Paul Bunyon of a man… bend… and crumple… and break under the weight of trying to make a living doing this thing he loved.
It was about two weeks later that the bank came and took our logging trucks. Not pickup trucks mind you, the eighteen wheel kind. Kenworths and Macks. And in our small logging community on the top of a mountain in rural West Virginia, that’s the kind of thing that gets noticed.
I watched my Dad get smaller and smaller as those trucks drove away. And it was the first time I realized that you can try your best to build a business doing what you love … and the world can still come and take things from you.
I swore in that moment, as a seven year old me, that one day I would figure out how to run a business that worked.
I thought it would be by taking over the family logging business and making it successful. Instead it turned into starting my own family business (the photography kind) with my husband, Justin.
New break in the generational chains of what it looks like to make a life doing this thing that you love.
I was not someone who was ever taught about money growing up. Except maybe to fear it. And that there are exactly two kinds of people in the world: rich people and good people. And, as I was taught, the two shall never be the same.
Which makes sense given the kind of people with money my Dad was always up against.
But it wasn’t until I went to college and was given the Rotary Scholarship—a $25,000 award to go study abroad for a year that was funded by none other than business owners who had done well for themselves and had more than enough to give away—that I realized this most important truth about money…
And out of that truth, here are the three most important things we’ve learned over the years when it comes to money.
Our accountant, Lisa, told us this one. She was telling us how across the board, people who have problems with money generally have the same kinds of problems with money. You just have to move the decimal point. She said that it doesn’t matter if a person is making $100,000 a year or a million dollars a year … if they are going to spend it all and go broke, they will both spend it all and go broke. If they are going to get in trouble with owing taxes, they both end up owing taxes. One just owes a lot more.
Move the decimal point.
So in this very weird way, the fact that you didn’t make more money this past year might have actually been protecting you from getting into even more financial trouble before you get right with your money habits. To quote Michael Scott, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems Stanley.” Which brings me to my next point…
Dave Ramsey (my favorite!) talks about this a lot. If you want to change your money situation, don’t change your circumstances… change your behavior.
It may feel like if you could just make more, then all of your money problems would go away.
But the truth is, without a behavior change and a heart change, if you make more you’ll just end up spending more. You’ll move the decimal point on what’s going out and it will never be able to keep up with what’s coming in, no matter how much you earn. You can’t out-earn bad money habits. That change has to start from within.
This one is a little more out there than the practical, tangible business advice I usually try to give. But it is also something I have seen prove true over and over, in both our lives and the lives of others, and so I can’t let you go without mentioning it.
At its core, there is just this universal truth at work in the wisdom, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). And when someone is doing right by their finances (changing their behavior and their heart, no matter the decimal point), when they are getting out of debt and living debt-free, when they are saving more than they spend and starting to build up wealth and investments… more money just seems to be drawn to them.
It could be a very practical explanation. Just like the definition of “luck” is “where preparation meets opportunity,” maybe it was just the preparation of actually having the cash on hand to be able to take advantage of the opportunities that came their way that resulted in even more money. But I believe it’s something more.
I believe that when the good hearts of this world have more than just barely enough to get by… those are going to be the people who go out and change the world with it. The ones who give more than they take.
Those are the people I want to see win with money.
So start today.
And start right here… when it comes to money, what’s in your heart?
And—honesty hour moment—has your money behavior been lining up with that lately?
If not, what is one thing you can change today to make a step in the right direction?
Start with what you’ve got, build from there.
You’ve got this. We’re cheering for you.
Justin & Mary
Thank you so much for tuning in to this week’s “the best thing I’ve learned about money” series.
In the comments below, share the best thing you’ve learned about money too!
May 23, 2019
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Oh, my gosh!! How did you know this is just what I needed to hear??! Literally, my husband and I have just been having this identical conversation. Close family ties but MK St was not something we talked about!! Moving forward, how do we change this for our kids??!! How do we educate them and teach them how to navigate it all??!
Thank you, thank you a million x a million.
Jill I am so glad this resonated with you! I believe change comes from continuing the conversation! 🙂 So grateful for you!