Financing My Dancing Dreams

This past week, I posted on social media about finally having my “oh shit” moment about competing at Desert Classic. Six weeks and four days to go! Teacher said we needed to make sure we had a game plan and pick a go/no-go date. He believed we’d be ready, but with me only taking one lesson per week, I had to be on point with my solo practices.

Then of course, as we went through Waltz, everything I wasn’t solid on yet came to light and it all congealed into this icky coat of self-doubt. Shit.

I decided to take some of the pressure off myself by adding an additional weekly lesson for the month of June. That gives me four extra lessons with Teacher. I was able to do it just like that because my next lesson package is due at the beginning of the month anyway, so the money was already ready and waiting. I’ll just use up the package faster and then cut back on lessons again, but I won’t need to until after Desert.

After almost 7 years of ballroom dancing, I still have to budget to the penny to be able to pay for private lessons, competitions, and the occasional dance camp or workshop. What has changed is my attitude around spending that money.

I used to carry a LOT of guilt about spending money on this “luxury hobby” that I really had no business doing. It was a “waste” of money, especially for someone living paycheck to paycheck. This wasn’t just an internal dialogue. Whether out of concern, judgment or jealousy, others let me know how “frivolous” they thought I was being.

But ballroom dancing was making me happy, happier than I had been in years. I was growing stronger, both physically and mentally. I was more confident. Was that really a “waste”?

For those of us not independently wealthy, it can be hard to justify the financial reality of our ballroom passion. After all, we’re adults and we have responsibilities. Our non-dance friends raise their eyebrows when we admit how much we spend to dress up in rhinestones and dance for 10 minutes at a competition. It’s not like we’re going to do anything with all this stuff anyway (I turned that one around on the naysayers, didn’t I?).

It’s taken a long time and a lot of mental work, but I’m finally releasing these limiting beliefs that actually didn’t originate within. They’re beliefs I absorbed from other people or society in general. I didn’t need to try to justify my financial decisions against these beliefs because they weren’t mine.

Letting go of the guilt and recognizing that I am worth making the investment into my dancing, and later my business, has made the actual budgeting a lot easier to handle. I’m clear on my priorities, so it doesn’t feel like much of a sacrifice to pinch pennies when I shop for groceries or opt for a budget-friendly cell phone instead of the latest and greatest. I also don’t feel guilty when I write a check for my next batch of lessons or pay for another month of business coaching. I’m making intentional trade-offs in order to direct my money toward what makes me feel fulfilled. Sounds pretty financially smart to me!

Depends on your goal, I suppose. If you want to live a safe and secure life and die with as much money saved as possible, my financial strategy is not the one for you. It works for me though. I’ve accomplished more in the past few years than probably in my entire life. My business mentor commented yesterday that I’ve changed so much even in just the past year. A friend who has worked at the desk next to mine for over a decade (and three different companies) has told me she’s loved watching me change and grow as I’ve pursued my passions.

That personal growth is worth the investment in my humble, non-financial-expert opinion. The fact that I’ve been able to impact other lives in a positive way at the same time makes it worth even more.

If you’re carrying some guilt or shame around the money you spend on your ballroom dancing, just know you’re not alone and you have my permission to let it go. You’re worth the investment and the trade-offs. You know the incredible impact ballroom dancing has had on your life! How is that not worth it? So what if you don’t go out to eat or shop at less expensive stores?

I’m living proof that it’s entirely possible to be a responsible adult and be a competitive ballroom dancer (and a successful one at that!) on a limited budget. It takes careful planning and intentional trade-offs, but when you get to walk out on that dance floor, none of that matters. What matters is you get to do what you love.

This turned into a more inspirational post than I thought it would! I hope you found it helpful. Follow me on social media (links in side bar) for more thoughts and tips on how I align the budget to finance my dancing dreams. If you want all of my tips and tricks right now, check out Dance Diaries: Ballroom Budgeting. If you could use some guidance in more aspects of your dance journey than just the budget, the best deal is the Girl with the Tree Tattoo collection, which includes both Dance Diaries books and The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing.

Come back next week to hear about another investment I’m making for the betterment of self. Happy dancing!

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3 thoughts on “Financing My Dancing Dreams

  1. Marla Stringham says:

    Thank you! I HAVE been struggling with this. The difference for me is I’m married and have 3 kids, so my financial decisions affect more than just me. My husband supports my dancing but if I spent thousands and thousands for a comp, he wouldn’t.

    But I do have to remember that it’s OK for me to have joy in life, and learn and grow new things. I appreciate your words here. Happy dancing!

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