Your Money or Your Life? Choosing Between Family and Career

by Debt Destroyer on January 27, 2009

photographer-reflection-cameraAs I mentioned in my About Page, “Your Money or Your Life?” is my favorite personal finance book that I’ve read.  But this post isn’t about the book.

This is about a decision that my wife made today.

As you long time readers know, I’m going back to school, so we’ve been depending on my wife’s wedding photography business to bring in the bacon around here for the past 6 months or so.  And while we’ve had to tighten our belt to make it work, so far it has been just fine.

Today I took a message for my wife from a potential bride who was wondering if her date was still available (a tip for those of you getting married, it’s never to early to line up the photographer).  After I passed on the message I had to go to work so I didn’t get to hear whether or not she booked the gig. But before I left, we joked that it would be the weekend that we’re trying to reschedule our NYC trip (late Aug-Early Sept).

I told her if that’s the case that she should book the wedding because we’ve already canceled the trip once, and it’s questionable if we’ll be in a position to go this year.

During supper tonight she brought up the call. Instead of the NYC trip weekend, it was for the weekend after.

The weekend of my cousin’s wedding.

My wife & I are quite found of this cousin.  Her parents were wonderful to us when we lived in the Twin Cities.  During that time we became very close to their family.   But we’ve moved back to SD five years ago (OMG! it’s been that long) and now we only get to see them a couple of times a year.

We were quite pleased to hear the good news over the holidays.  This particular cousin had once been the “black sheep” of the family. But as she matured she changed her friends, her surroundings, and her lifestyle.   In a very short time, she turned into the “normal” one (if there is such a thing in my family).

In an ironic twist, when my cousin first told me the good news, her original wedding date conflicted with a wedding my wife is shooting.  I figured that me and the kids could take a fun little road trip without Mommy around, but my wife was devastated.  But when my wife called to inform my cousin that she couldn’t make it, she found out that the date had changed.

So now we have a cousin’s wedding with a moving date.  Would she book the wedding or go to one?  What would you do?

It’s a tough call for me.  As much as I’d like my wife to come with us, I’d also like her to have a few more weddings booked too.  That’s one of the problems with this line of work.  All the early calls are for the dates you don’t want to work, but you feel pressured to book them in case the phone stops ringing.  Especially in a recession where you are the sole bread-winner.

My wife told the bride that she was unavailable.

While I’m quite proud of her choosing family time over working, I’m also nervous that phone won’t ring and that we’ll regret this decision later.  But that’s just who I am.  In reality it’ll probably just mean that our NYC trip will transform into a trip to the Twin Cities.

And that wouldn’t be all that bad.

Until next time,


{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

The Weakonomist January 27, 2009 at 9:39 am

My fiancé and I just signed with our photog and we’re very excited. My fiancé commented on how cool it would be to be a wedding photog. I cited examples like yours of perhaps why it might not be as fun as she thought. Kudos for doing the family thing. There is no point in working to support a family when you miss doing things with the family.

Oh and we booked super early, the photog held our date almost a year ahead of the wedding.


David January 28, 2009 at 3:57 am

I think that you and your wife made a great decision.

There will be few times in life that we ever look back and say “I wish I would not have gone to that family member’s wedding.”


Lori January 29, 2009 at 9:48 am

Congratulations to your wife on her promotion! She just became and “in demand” wedding photographer! Has she considered taking on an apprentice for times like this? I have been in the hair industry for 20 years and know firsthand how nerve-racking it can be to turn down a customer. But this can really work to her advantage. Now she can say, “I book early.” “My calendar fills up quickly.” If you are truly nervous about the phone not ringing, hit the pavement with business cards in hand. Don’t discount, but use this time to get better known at the local wedding businesses. Is she getting her hair done on a regular basis at the busiest wedding salon in town? Hairdressers like to spread the word! Good Luck! Lori in Chicago


Debt Destroyer January 29, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

@The Weakonomist – Congratulations on your engagement, and the fact that you are excited about your photographer!

It’s funny my wife just received an inquiry about a July 2010 date, before she’s received any for the corresponding weekend in 2009. That’s just how it goes.

@David – I’m starting to think so too. Now we’re thinking of blocking off the NYC trip weekend as well. So if we cancel, it will be for a different reason.

@ Lori – First off let me say that I love Chicago!

My wife likes being a “bouquet” option for the brides, she thinks she’d lose that if she’d take on an associate.

Couldn’t agree more about hairdressers spreading the word. We’ve also had good luck with florists, venues, and other photographers.


Kristy @ Master Your Card January 30, 2009 at 3:16 am

I think you guys made an excellent decision! While work is important and has it’s place in our lives, we should not schedule our family life around work. I did that for many years and I missed a lot. Of course, I’m single, so I’m talking about missing the birth of my nephew, then my niece, then birthdays, and holidays. I’ve missed a lot. While I’m not close to a lot of people in my family, my niece and nephew are very important to me and I’m trying to make sure I’m there in every way for them.

I read somewhere that Valentine’s day is one of the most requested wedding days of the year, and then spring is a huge time for weddings as well. I bet the phone calls will still be coming for your wife and you guys will have nothing to worry about on that front!


Cassy February 2, 2009 at 7:20 am

The decision made by you is the right one! Family is the best we have ever had, have or will have in our lives. And no money can replace it. By the way, I would like to congratulate you wife who is highly-demanded as a photographer. Wish her good luck!


FixThePig February 2, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Given the choice I would’ve taken family over work as well. Granted in today’s economic conditions it’s hard to walk away from work, however family it what will truly make the journey through these times bearable. Memories last much longer then any paycheck :)!


Debt Destroyer February 4, 2009 at 12:22 am

@ Kristy – Actually she’s picked up a couple of more weddings since I first posted this, so everything should be OK. But we don’t like to count our chickens before they hatch.

@ Cassy – I couldn’t agree more that family is what is important. And my wife will be tickled that so many people think she is “in -demand”

@FixThePig – “Memories will last longer than any paycheck” I wouldn’t say any paycheck, but they’ll most definitely last longer than any of mine. :)


St. Paul Mover March 17, 2009 at 12:13 pm

It seems everyone is in agreement that this was the right choice, and that’s my opinion as well. Family should come first, especially something like a wedding that only happens once (or a couple times =] ). Also, it’s important to remember that this is only temporary, you will soon be back on the job market. So while it’s difficult to pass up a paycheck in these times, it’s good to remember that better times are sure to follow.


Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: