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ANTM Financial Lesson No. 2: Money Does Not Hold You Back from Your Passion

Of all the financial stress out there, this doesn't have to be one of them. You can do what you want, without owning all the expensive stuff you think you need.

One of the challenges I found particularly interesting while watching a marathon of America’s Next Top Model involved a thrift store.

I never thought I would see models and wannabe-models step foot into a secondhand clothing shop so that alone was enough to hold my attention. But the challenge itself turned out to be even more interesting: the women, who arrive in limousines and temporarily live in a decked out mansion, had exactly three minutes to sift through the thrift store racks and come up with an outfit to wear in a fashion show directly outside!

After a piranha-on-meat frenzy among the racks, one by one these girls stormed down the runway in high heels and last decade’s fashions. It didn’t matter that their clothes had come from a thrift shop; in fact, you hardly noticed the clothing at all.

In an industry that can be seen as based on shallow values and excessiveness, it was a breath of fresh air that they basically admitted you can rock anything — dollar store blouses all the way up to couture.

So if a model does not need expensive, brand new clothing to rock the runway, then what does this mean for you?

You also do not need expensive items to create greatness.

There. Breathe in that financial stress relief.

Purpose and passion can lead you to make cuisine out of peasant ingredients and beauty out of what many would consider rags. Give paper and a pencil to Stephen King and he will write you the start of a novel. Julia Child was in the kitchen cooking brilliant food long before she owned a KitchenAid Mixer and a pair of Wusthof knives. Do you think Anne Frank would not have started her diary because she didn’t have access to a Moleskine Journal? The answer is a resounding “no”.

These people, like the models in ANTM, were driven by purpose and passion. And when you feel purpose and passion you know that money or expensive items could never hold you back.

So many times people go out and spend hundreds or perhaps thousands of dollars to buy all of the gadgets associated to their profession/hobby/passion almost as a tangible expression of pursuing their dreams (you can find some of these items for sale on Craigslist and eBay).

I know I did. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and so in my early 20s I thought I should give it a serious start. And by “serious start”, I meant go to an office store and buy stuff. Writers have tape recorders so that wherever they are they can capture ideas and edit texts, so I told myself. Writers have pens with the smoothest finishes and pencils with the sharpest points obtained only by the most expensive brand so that is what I needed as well, I reasoned. I even asked for a brand new typewriter from my father for my birthday as I fantasized about the clickity-clack rhythm writers before me had whittled away their days to.

Sadly, it has since sat in my closet largely unused.

I did not need all of these items to be a writer. I just had to write. Give me a corner of a room with a computer, give me a notepad with a free pen from a convention, heck even given me a napkin from a restaurant and I can write my ideas for an article.

Owning the best riding gear and boots so that you can ride a horse for the first time, or purchasing tons of sports gear for a child just beginning a sport is not necessary, and can cause so much financial stress that your brain can't wrap itself around the space you need to create anyway. The person with passion and purpose can do much with little. Before you invest your money in the pursuit of a passion, invest your energy, your time, and your focus. Get started with what you have and if it was meant to be, the rest will find its way to you.

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Amanda L. Grossman is a writer and Certified Financial Education Instructor, Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Frugal Confessions. Over the last 13 years, her money work has helped people with how to save money and how to manage money. She's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger, Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, LifeHacker, Real Simple Magazine, Woman's World, Woman's Day, ABC 13 Houston, Keybank, and more. Read more here.


Monday 29th of October 2012

Great article! I too hate when I hear people talk about the perfect X or Y that they need to pursue their hobbies/dreams. Or when they tell me that they bought something because it's "all they need to get a job as X"


Tuesday 30th of October 2012

Thank you Vanessa!

Amanda L Grossman

Monday 29th of October 2012

Hi Momma J,

Thank you!

You are very right. I think learning that 'stuff' generally doesn't amount to squate comes with age. I remember my own teenage years, and it was difficult to not want clothes, a car, and all of the "cool" things I thought I needed to be.

I can't wait to see what other clarity comes with age!

Momma J

Monday 29th of October 2012

Nice article, Amanda! And very true, but like you mention, try explaining that to a teenager with a dream and vision in their head. It's a challenge a lot of parents face: how to encourage a child to pursue their dreams despite tough conditions.

As adults, we start to realize it's not about 'stuff'. It's about being able to smile and enjoy life everyday without 'stuff'.