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Through the Lens: How a Photographer Uses Pockets to Budget for the Off-Season

Customer StoriesDecember 15, 2023

When most of her high school friends spent their Saturdays at the mall, teenager Rachel Linderman could be found behind the camera, capturing weddings. She got her business license right after her 18th birthday, and Rachel Jocelyn Photography was officially born. 

Nearly a decade later, Rachel has photographed more than 100 couples and traveled to over 15 countries for photography assignments. She also operates a physical studio space with two other photographers, offering headshots, product photography, and mentor sessions.

A passion for people

Like many life goals, Rachel’s was fueled by coffee. Photography was never her plan; instead, her long-term vision was to open and run a café. “Photography was just supposed to help pay the bills while I learned the ropes working as a barista,” she says.

But as each year passed, income from her photography business grew. “I finally said to myself, ‘Okay, Rachel, you need to see this through.’” And over time, Rachel realized what she loved most about working in the coffee industry was possible on an even deeper level with photography. 

“As a barista, I got a few minutes with each customer. But as a photographer, I get to go deeper. Whether it’s a wedding day or a newborn photo shoot, I love spending time with my clients and capturing the most memorable moments of their lives.”

Like many self-employed people, Rachel also loved the flexibility of being her own boss. She relished working from home when she wasn’t shooting weddings or portrait sessions, and with the freedom to try new things for her business, her studio space was born.

Found: A perfect fit for the self-employed

The creative freedom of running a business also comes with additional responsibilities: self-employed finances. Like many freelancers, Rachel says managing finances, dealing with taxes, and bookkeeping are her least favorite parts of being a small business owner. 

She previously used a local credit union for her business banking, but she needed more features. She started exploring online banking options and came across Found.

A must-have on her list? Saving money for taxes. Found’s auto-save feature sets aside money for taxes every time Rachel gets paid, and it simplifies making those quarterly estimated tax payments. The automatic expense tracking and categorization have made it easier for Rachel to track write-offs and help reduce her tax bill.

But it isn’t just the features Rachel loves; it’s the mission, too. “I loved that Found is built to support self-employed people like me. It has been the perfect fit.”

Using Found’s pockets for budgeting

Rachel has shot more than a dozen weddings between March and November of 2023. But she says work slows down during the winter. “I don’t have any other weddings lined up until May 2024.” Because weddings are her most significant source of income, Rachel has to be strategic about planning ahead. 

In the past, she’s used a spreadsheet and manually forecasted what she needed to set aside for the winter months. “To be completely honest, I felt like I was winging it. I didn’t have a great structure before. I just had a spreadsheet. Here are my bills. Here’s my projected income. When income was deposited, I’d manually move it all around.”

Rachel says it was a lot to keep up with. But with Found’s new pockets feature, she can automate her budgeting. In addition to her beloved Tax pocket, she’s created two custom pockets to help her budget better: Off-season and Gear. 

To make sure she has reserves for the winter lull, Rachel saves money in her Off-Season pocket with deposit allocations. Every time she gets paid, a percentage of her income gets automatically deposited into that pocket. “I love that I don’t have to think about it anymore, and I feel ready for the winter.”

“I also knew I needed to buy a new camera lens soon, so I started setting money aside in a separate Gear pocket to make sure I had the funds available.” When Rachel went to purchase her new lens last month, she said it was painless because she knew she had the funds. (And it helps knowing it’s a tax-deductible business expense.)

Building a sustainable business

The seasonality of Rachel’s photography business might make budgeting a little more complicated, but Rachel also enjoys the downtime. “I work nonstop from April to October, so I like using the winter season to recharge and think about what’s next for my business.”

And while her weekends may be free of weddings, Rachel isn’t in full wind-down mode. She’s using her free time to focus on the next chapter of her business. A few years ago, Rachel started offering mentor sessions to other photographers, and she says it’s quickly become one of her favorite parts of her job. 

“I’ve been doing this for nearly a decade now, and I want to grow at a pace I can keep up with so I don’t burn out,” Rachel says. Eventually, she’d love to book a limited number of weddings each year, so she’s spending the winter thinking about how to grow a more sustainable revenue stream, such as expanding her mentor sessions and launching an educational podcast.

But Rachel says the podcast isn’t just about her and her story; it ultimately stems from her passion for connecting with others. She already has a few podcast guests lined up, and she’s looking forward to sharing other stories, too. She’s hoping to launch January 1st and then will publish biweekly episodes in the coming weeks. 

“Community is everything, and the best way you will succeed is to find others who lift you, encourage you, and push you to be the best you can be.”

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only.

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