Budgeting: Keeping it Simple
By ASCP Staff
Most of us love to plan our weekends, what we’ll eat for dinner or the next skin care class we’ll take. But let’s face it. Most estheticians don’t find the idea of planning a budget an exciting way to spend your free time. In fact, balancing the amount we spend versus the amount we earn can really seem like a chore.
You might be on top of your game, and already have a budgeting strategy that works for you. If so, good for you! But if your budgeting skills could use some TLC, read on.
When you have a budget and know where your money needs to go and how much is left over, it gives you confidence and provides financial freedom. You’ll know whether you can afford that amazing Gucci bag, or you’ll be eating ramen noodles for the next week. Sticking to a budget and managing your cash flow can also save you from accumulating high credit card debt. And even though you love being an esthetician, at some point you should look at saving and investing for your retirement . . . something we don’t think much about in the beauty profession.
To keep it simple, you’ll categorize your income and expenses, then explore a system for tracking them.
If you’re an employee at a spa or salon, keeping track of your total income for the month should be fairly simple. If you’re an independent solo esthetician or own your own business, it may not be as cut and dried. The number of clients you see vary from week to week, the cost of the services you provide vary (a leg wax versus a chemical peel), and your retail sales will also fluctuate. Do your best to estimate your monthly income and after a few months of budgeting, you’ll have more accurate numbers. Write down your total income for the month after taxes. Include all sources of income—full-time jobs, second jobs, freelance pay, etc.
Do you ever find yourself at the end of the month wondering where all your money went? Budgeting helps build your awareness of where your money is being spent so you can avoid too much month and not enough paycheck. It may be surprising to see how much you spent on eating at restaurants or getting your daily latte at Starbucks. As an esthetician, you work hard for your money, and you deserve to treat yourself now and then, but you also want to make sure you aren’t left at the end of the month with no other option than to use your credit cards.
Begin by looking at your major expenses, then drill it down. A spreadsheet can help you organize things. You can create your own spreadsheet or search online for one that suits your needs. Below are some ideas of different expense categories, but you can modify these to work for you.
Food and Household/toiletry items
- Cleaning supplies
- Personal items (toilet paper, shampoo, make-up, etc.)
- Car payment/insurance
- Public transportation
Self-Care and Fun
- Entertainment (dinner, movies)
- Gym membership
- Health insurance
- Massage/facials/hair care
- Clothing, shoes, etc.
Some of these expenses may not apply to you, but there may be other expenses you will need to add, such as pet care, adding to your art collection, or upcoming trips you are planning.
Now you need to track your income and expenses. A strategy is crucial to successful budgeting and if you’re willing to try something new, you will see this can be much simpler than you might think.
As we know, today there are apps for everything! If you love using apps, there are numerous choices you can download for free. Budgeting apps act as a money manager for your personal finances, and there are applications for your computer or cell phone. Just Google “best budgeting apps” to find a tracker that works for you.
You may be thinking, “I’m an esthetician, not an accountant.” If you’re not comfortable using an app, you can try “envelope budgeting.” The first step is to put your credit cards in your sock drawer and start living on a cash-only basis. Jordan Page has a YouTube video titled “Simplest Budgeting Method EVER! Envelope Budgeting You’ve Never Seen.” This video offers basic common sense and has helped a lot of people develop their spending plan to stay within their cash budget.
Whichever tracking system you use, it must work for you. It may take a little time and practice, but after a few months, it will become second nature.
A Financial Cushion
No matter how well you plan your budget, life can throw you a curve ball. Your cat needs to see the vet. Your washing machine just went kaput. Your car battery is dead. This is why saving for emergencies is a must. Remember, you don’t want to pull out that credit card if you can avoid it. Choose an amount that makes you feel secure and start contributing to the fund each month. Once you have a cushion built up, you won’t have to panic when unexpected expenses arise.
You love your clients, you love giving skin care services, and you hope to work for a long, long time. But even if your retirement seems a long way off, it’s important to consider some options. Here are two types of retirement accounts that may work for you.
IRA: An individual retirement account (IRA) lets you save money for retirement that offers tax advantages. You can set up an IRA account at many financial institutions—whether you have an employer-sponsored retirement account or not.
401(k): A 401(k) is a retirement savings plan sponsored by an employer. 401(k) contributions are deducted from your salary on a pre-tax basis. This means that by contributing to a 401(k), you lower the amount you pay in current income taxes. And many employers will match a percentage of what you contribute. That’s free money.
Choose Your Financial Destination
When you have a solid budget in place, it improves your financial confidence and can improve your life. Instead of just ending up whichever way the wind blows, you can choose your financial destination and freedom.
Why is having a budget important?
A budget helps you figure out your long-term goals and work towards them. A budget forces you to map out your goals, save your money, keep track of your progress, and make your dreams a reality.
What are 3 benefits of budgeting?
- Lets you track your financial goals.
- Will help organize your spending.
- Will help create a cushion for unexpected expenses.
Do I need a budget for my business, too?
A detailed and realistic budget is one of the most important tools for guiding your business. A budget provides essential information for operating within your means, managing unexpected challenges, and turning a profit. A proper budget will identify available capital, estimate expenditures, and anticipate revenues.