Money and Photography: The Best Plan You Have is…

“The best camera is the one you have with you.”

Just about every photographer ever

I think it’s fair to say that just about everyone carries a camera with them almost everywhere they go; that camera is attached to our cellphones. And, while our phones have had cameras in them since June of 2000 (released in Japan by J-phone with a 0.35 megapixel camera), the photo-snob in me won’t allow me to consider anything less than 5 megapixels to be a worthwhile digital camera. And, we didn’t have 5 megapixel cameras masquerading as communication devices until about 2010.

As for me and the rest of Generation X, we grew up when our phones always stayed home (they were kinda bulky) and cameras, which were never attached to those phone, were only for special occasions and vacation. So, I was a bit reluctant to use my phone as a primary camera in any situation, especially on a vacation where I had spent good money just to get there.

As I studied photography more and more, a few lessons stood out in regards to the quality of photos I could produce:

  1. The quality of a photo has more to do with the person behind the camera than the camera itself.
  2. All things being equal, it’s true that the fancy cameras with high price tags, removable lenses, and bigger digital sensors than the ones that come with our phones will perform better in more extreme situations.
  3. The “extreme situations” in the previous item on this list will probably account for, at most, 1% of the photos most people will try to take. (So much for snobbery.)

But, we’re kind of stuck in the early days when it comes to money. Sure, we carry our money around in various forms of credit and debit cards, apps on our phones (linked to those credit and debit cards, or some may even use Bitcoin from time to time. Some of you might even use…cash. A key element that we may be lacking, though, is a plan.

While the technology that allows us to capture photos and videos of our various life events had the work done for us by teams of camera people and industrial designers, we still feel like we have to get started on our financial plans on our own (even though there are apps on our cameras…excuse me, phones…that can help us get started on our plans). And, because we feel like we’re on our own in these financial matters, we hesitate to start.

  • Just like the first camera for a cellphone wasn’t able to capture a lot of detail, your first plan may be missing a few things.
  • Your first budget/cash-flow management system may seem a little inconvenient. (J-Phone’s offering required that you had to connect your phone to a computer to get your pictures off of it.)
  • As you re-visit your plan, more often at first, but less often as your plan becomes more refined, it will have more and more useful information in it. This mirrors our observation in cellphone cameras, where the megapixels rose and the ability to handle more difficult situations (such as those slightly darker environments) improved.
  • As you continue to improve your plan, it will become ingrained in your mind and influence how you use money on a more constant basis…as if you were carrying it with you everywhere you went.

I can tell you from experience that the work you put into your relationship with money is worth it. So, how can we get started?

  • If you belong to a religious or civic organization, maybe they have a financial group that you could join. If not, maybe you can help start one.
  • Read books and use social media. You might be able to find a style and mentor that fits you. (Be careful with these; there’s a lot of bad advice out there to go with the good you may find.)
    • If you’re starting a financial group as mentioned in my first bullet point and aren’t sure where to start, beginning as a financial book club might be a way to go.
  • Use online and phone app tools to help you get started. In our church’s financial small group, we were given the following examples:
    • Mint
    • YNAB (You Need A Budget)
    • EveryDollar (A Dave Ramsey Solutions product)

Ultimately, the success of your plan will come down to you. Are you willing to stick to your plan? Are you willing to improve your plan?

Yes, there are people out there that have some advantages over you in terms of income or other resources. Don’t let that stop you from trying to improve your financial picture a little bit at a time. Over time, you might just be ready for most anything life throws at you.

Thank you for visiting Finunciate. Come back, soon.

For more information about this post, see the other parts of the series or email me at with any questions you may have.

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