A hand on the left holds a disk with a dollar sign on it. A hand on the right holds a disk with a dollar sign on it. Two hands in the middle hold a disc with a lightbulb on it. Blue background.

Many massage therapists are currently out of work as the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold.

During tough times, tough decisions need to be made about how to save, spend — and not spend — money.

Once we are through this, your clients will need you more than ever. So, do what you need to do to stay safe, healthy, and ready to re-open when it’s time to. [Read “Coronavirus and Its Impact on the Massage Industry.”]

Saving money is not easy. It means a ton of emails, calls, hours on hold, hearing someone say “no” and calling back and asking another representative until you get a “yes,” negotiations and extreme discipline.

Start now with these 21 tips, and you’ll potentially have hundreds or thousands of dollars more next month to work with, and each month after that. Now get to work!

Tips for Small Businesses

1. Keep in touch with your customers with useful resources. Offer them free value such as videos and information. A video on self-massage, for example, Or a video on how to use a massage tool (with a link to that tool for sale on your site).

Offer them discount packages and gift certificates to buy now and use later.

Thank them for their continued support of your small business and let them know how much their support is appreciated. A few may pre-purchase just because they have the resources to do so, and you’ll stay connected during this time so you’ll be in the forefront of their minds when this turns around.

2. Look for Discounts. Take advantage of the discounts available to massage therapists right now. Many CE providers and vendors are slashing prices up to 50% on programs and products.

3. Pivot your current business. Massage therapists, if you don’t have a plan to accept insurance when you re-open, don’t be surprised if you don’t have the business you did when you closed. It’s time to pivot, and insurance is the only economy-proof massage therapy business there is. I have videos on how to do this; request an insurance video from me by sending an email to meaganholub@theloveinstitute.com.

4. Don’t provide refunds. Have a “Sorry, no refunds, but we do offer …” cut-and-paste email written up and ready to go. This will allow you to keep your emotions out of this inevitable and unpleasant interaction. Many, many people who bought packages and gift certificates will be asking for refunds soon. And if they don’t get them, they will tell their bank to chargeback. (It’s not personal, it’s survival instinct.)

5. Stay up on potential chargebacks. You’ll be shocked to discover that major corporations will go back through their books and chargeback the services their people put on the spending account. It happened to me in 2009 and I was in a heap on the floor crying at the unfairness of billion- dollar corporations stealing money from a single female massage therapist.

I was naive then, so you don’t have to be now. It will happen, be prepared.

This is why you have your return policy on all receipts and they sign they agree to it. The only way they can win if you reply back showing proof of the terms they agreed to (quickly, don’t wait to reply with proof!) is if they state, “card not present environment.” They’ll win that one every time.

6. Renegotiate. Call and renegotiate every single expense in your life that you chose to keep under the “necessities.” Do your homework first. If you call your global cellular carrier, tell them you want to leave and go to budget cell company “X” because they cost “$X” which is “$X dollars less than you pay at your global cell phone provider.” They have customer retention departments that will cut your bill in half that they don’t want you to know about.

7. Don’t spend your cash if you don’t have to. Billionaires “bank roll” their credit — setting a cycle of pay off from one card to the other before interest hits —- never tapping into their cash reserves. Why can’t you? You’d be wise to do the same before credit cards slash their usage.

Get increases in your credit lines as back up and any 0% transfer cards you can qualify for, knowing they will likely lower the balances soon. Save your cash. Use gift cards earned from your credit cards to make purchases, trade air miles in for them or use points to apply toward your basic needs.

8. Get a 0% Care Credit card if you qualify. While Care Credit used to be only for medical, vet and dental care, they are now accepted at drugstores and Sam’s Club, which means you can use it to buy food and other needs.

Be sure to read the terms. Your purchase must be over $200 or you will be hit with a whopping high interest rate — so buy gift cards if you are below that limit to hit the 0% interest qualification.

Then, be very sure you can pay the full charge off before it’s due in 6,12 or 36 months, because if you have even $1 left on the balance for that purchase you will pay hefty interest on the full amount that you already paid off. When used properly, this card is a blessing.

Make sure you use it correctly to avoid fees. If things get really bad and you are desperate for cash with no other access to it, you can buy gift cards for these places at 0% interest and resell them for a few cents less on cardpool.com.

9. Slash expenses. Go line-by-line through your spending and cut everything that is non-essential. Unhook everything that doesn’t make you money, support your practice or keep you healthy.

Your priorities are in this order: 1. Food; 2. Utilities; 3. Health insurance; 4. Rent/Mortgage; 5. Transportation; and 6. Liability insurance, professional continuing education, and license renewal.  (4 and 5 may be interchangeable as things change and depending on how you make a living).

Kill the Netflix subscription, and share internet costs with your neighbor or use the building’s wifi. You don’t need Netflix or Hulu when YouTube, which is rich with business-building and massage-education videos, is free. Let them go and hook them back up on a special price when you know you are financially okay. Every cent counts when you are not bringing in any money.

Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle

10. Rather than buy new, fix, mend repair, and multi-use. Make it a game to find new ways to use what you have and have access to.

After my recent move on March 8, I was immediately self-quarantined due to my immunity risks. I didn’t have soap dishes or sponge trays, so I looked around and quickly found pretty chrome lids on candles that did the trick. When I start seeding my garden, I’ll use the recyclable bamboo trays my Sun Basket meals come in to transport veggies.

11. Grow an indoor garden if you don’t have space outdoors. Organic produce is expensive and essential to staying healthy. Take the time you have to plant seeds, and start to replant ones that regrow like lettuces and celery. You can hang gardens on walls and get creative for space. You don’t have to buy what’s out there, just research what it’s made from and use craft supplies.

12. Become your own salon. Do your own nails, dye your own grays, cut your own hair or let it grow.

13. Repurpose. Things you bought and never used can be given as gifts. Don’t feel bad. No one has to know. All those essential oils you bought, those candles you haven’t used yet, that scarf with a new tag — yep.

14. Make natural cleaning supplies and toiletries. It’s healthier for you, and not costly to make. You may even have lots of the ingredients at home (some growing in your garden).

Community Matters

15. Speak to your community. Have conversations about sharing responsibilities like childcare and maintaining a community garden when this is over. Start a list of neighborhood skills — baking, sewing, car repair, massage — everyone can trade. When communities come together and share resources, we can weather storms so much easier.

16. Barter, trade, and access your resources. I have a local business that wanted to purchase two more $500 events from my company before this happened.

I know it would benefit her and me more if I instead ask her to trade for use of her space for my classes that would have cost me $700+ in another studio. Because she’s already paying for the space and I’m paying labor, I bet she’ll provide another day for us in hopes that we may continue renting from her in the future.

Do What You Need To Do

17. Go get a side job. If you can’t find a way to make money in your own business right now, get another job. No shame in this game. Get to work. Amazon and Walmart are hiring. You can organize a delivery service that will make quick easy cash while this continues. Drive delivery for restaurants. There are not enough delivery people for the demand right now.

18. Create a video or e-book. Sell it for a small amount of money, even $1, and sell it on Amazon. Baking, sewing, indoor gardening, prepping, basic car maintenance — all of these are going to be popular topics soon. By keeping the price low, you’ll generate far more sales and earnings over time.

19. Get benefits. Call and sit on hold for every benefit — financial assistance, childcare, food stamps — you qualify for, today. Start it again tomorrow. Go through the list and don’t stop until you have some income coming in.

20. Sell your old gift cards. Use sites like cardpool.com. Someone will want to save the few dollars for a card they need, and you get the cash. Win-win.

21. Get a rebate. If you do have to buy something on Amazon or other online sites. go through sites like ebates.com and they’ll send you a percentage back in check form within a few months.

Survive and Thrive

If you have thoughts of, “I don’t want to do that” or “I don’t know how to do that,” realize the only people who thrived during the 2008 recession pushed forward while everyone else made excuses.

Google how-tos, and take the kids with you or work when they sleep. Where there is a will there is a way.

About the Author

Meagan Holub acquired the nickname “The Celebrity Massage Therapist” from her clientele of A-listers, rockstars and royalty … and ran with it. She authored The Magic Touch book series and offers continuing education classes under the same title. She is currently writing Touch Types, while continuing to globally expand her company, The Love Institute. Holub is trusted with VIPs at companies, such as The Oscars, The Grammys, Brad Pitt’s Make it Right; has been featured as a Couples Massage expert on NBC, CBS, VH1, in Men’s Health, and interviewed as a Celebrity Massage Therapist in Cosmopolitan Magazine; was on the cover of MASSAGE Magazine in September of 2016 as a business expert, and much more.