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Doing the Math, Part 2: How much income do you need?

16 Sep 2021 3:13 PM | Amy Thomason (Administrator)


By Dagmar Growe, LMT

Today we are continuing to pursue the question of how much we need to charge for our services. In Part 1 of this series, we looked at how much you earned per massage, and the structure of different rates in your business. Today we will take a step back from your business, and look at your personal financial picture. Today’s questions are: How much do you need to earn, and how much would you like to earn? And we will ask how much you want to work, and how you would like to structure your work.

How much income do you need? How much would you like to earn?

Unless you can answer these questions with a fact based dollar amount, I challenge you to sit down and do some math. Again, let’s first look at fixed expenses - those that are roughly the same every month. Make sure to include expenses paid less frequently, like property taxes, and quarterly taxes. Sort them into 2 categories: Needs (like utilities) and wants (like a gym membership or a Netflix account). Figuring your flexible spending is a little more tricky: If you generally pay cashless, you can go over your statements. You may want to log your cash expenditures over a period of time to average your needs and wants per month.

Because our income can fluctuate wildly from month to month it is important to have some reserves. Getting a realistic idea of your minimum expenses will help you with establishing an appropriate reserve for times of illness or vacation. Knowing how much it takes to cover your wants can give you guidance and peace of mind if you consider cutting back work hours.

How Much Do You Want to Work?

In a culture where more is better, determining what is simply enough can be a task of spiritual dimensions. Most of my friends never ask themselves this question as their jobs are all or nothing situations. One of the advantages of our profession is that most employers offer part time schedules. But there is a constant temptation to be lured into more hours - because our clients or our employer really wants us to or because we like the idea of earning more.

Massage therapy is strenuous work - how many massages per day can you do without injuring your body? How many days per week do you want to work? What are your family’s needs, and how can you best balance them with work? Do you like evening or weekend work?

Right now our profession faces a serious shortage of therapists. Clinics are looking for employees or contract LMTs, patients are looking for a new therapist because their previous one retired or left the profession. This is a great time to make the changes you would like to make for your own benefit. Do you want to change your working hours? If you are willing to work weekends and evenings you may decide to charge extra for those times as those appointments are difficult to find. Should you re-evaluate how much you are being paid per hour?

Part 3 of this series will look at putting the numbers together! Have fun playing with the numbers. I promise you some surprises, and some peace of mind if you follow through on this. You will be able to make decisions based on fact - or, as they call it in our field: Evidence based planning and decision making.


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