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Planning ahead financially while you can still make the choices


I have a habit of being able to predict the future. Seriously.

Back in November I had a recurring series of panic attacks, and I could not figure out what I was predicting. I just knew something was going to happen. It was bad. I knew I could not continue to keep 7 people on staff (myself included). There was no reason for the panic attacks. There was no reason we could not continue to keep everyone employed. We were coming up on the busiest season of all and we were not at all slowing down. But something was gnawing at me and I could not let it go. 

It was stressing me out and there were staff that were stressing me out (I do not like having that many people in my salon) and they had to go. I let an apprentice go who was not listening to anything I said. She always knew that already or was not willing to adjust her holding techniques, carrying techniques, use a leash - that kind of thing.

The stress did not go away. If anything it got more and more heightened. 

I had to let another groomer go 2 weeks before Christmas. At this point I rather panicked because I was not sure I could pay my bills with her gone. My fill in groomer who was helping out over the holidays had had thumb surgery and it was clear she was back to work way too early, so she had to be let go as well. It was now just four of us. 

I sat down with all my bills laid out on the dining room table and made three piles for  both the shop and the house.

  • NECESSARY ( cannot operate without)
  • LUXURY (but easier to function with)
  • OPTIONAL (not needed to operate and can be gotten rid of if needed)

My NECESSARY pile of bills for my shop included:

  1. Rent 
  2. Electric (our water, gas, sewer and trash bill is included in one bill)
  3. Insurance
  4. Telephone
  5. Payroll (including the processor)
  6. 6% of Percentage of CC sales to repay a small Square Capital loan
  7. Shampoo

The LUXURY bills for the shop are 

  1. Internet
  2. Yard services
  3. Square appointments
  4. Bandanas and Bows

The OPTIONAL bills are

  1. Hulu
  2. Advertising (I do very little)
  3. Website
  4. Adobe Cloud

I sat down and added up all the bills and made three totals. One for each section the adding in the first two and then the 3rd added to it. I am open roughly 25 days a month, so I then divided it up into what it takes me daily to apy each level of important bills. I now know how much it costs me to be open per day, per week and per month. I out that much money away in a savings account every day or make sure to pay one or more bills every day. I put away payroll the same way. DAILY. For me this enables me to budget better than I do without that knowledge.

I repeated it with my household bills. I am extremely fortunate to own my house (paid for) and my husband has a retirement income that allows us to pay for most all of our personal expenses out of his income every month. We do not have that many bills because we are pretty much debtfree. It has not always been that way and I worked very very hard to get it that way.

My monthly personal bills include:

  1. Car payment
  2. Car insurance
  3. Internet
  4. Cell Phone
  5. Light Bill
  6. Dish Network
  7. Homeowners Insurance
  8. Health insurance (my policy and my husband's Medicare supplement)
  9. Dental insurance
  10. Gas
  11. Prescriptions
  12. Dog Food

I made sure that all the household bills could be handled by what my husband has coming in monthly. While I realize that is not feasible for many people it is for us and for that I am eternally grateful. I do cover the "extras" like food, going to dinner, buying whatever we order from Amazon...   but I try to not add to our expenses because I do not want to push the limits of what we can afford. I like to live as simply as possible because I know that I may be required to live on his income at a moments notice if I get sick or hurt.

After doing this evaluation I was still not sure I liked the numbers, so I dropped household trash pick up, closed my ATT account and moved to my internet provider and bought a lawn mower for the grooming shop. That saved me over $350 a month! I like that!  

In January after being closed for a week to paint and renovate, my bather became a bit "unreliable" and I had to let him go.

I order shampoo by the case twice a month. Always enough to get free shipping but in two shipments just to make it easier to pay for it. One day's "saved money" will still cover that cost. 

I now believe my premonition was about things to come. My planning that occurred between Thanksgiving and the outbreak of the COVID19 virus that is wreaking havoc on our world at this time made it much easier for me to survive this. My bills are all paid on time and I am able to pay my essential bills a day at a time, or put that money away and when I have enough (the rent and electric bill is really the only thing that this falls into) to pay the bill it gets paid.

Right now, I am open one day at at time and paying my bills for NEXT MONTH in advance. I got my electric bill today and paid it today. I will have my rent paid by Friday for the month in advance. My personal bills will be paid on the 1st when my husband's final paycheck comes in. I will be able to stay open for another month with no worries. 

In this time of shelter in place orders and mandatory closures, many small shops are scared they are going to have to close down permanently. This may happen and my advice in this article may be too little too late.

BUT! My advice to you guys is this: PAY YOUR MANDATORY BILLS! Ignore credit cards (call to get those payments rolled over). Insurances are cancelling nonpayment cancellations. cellphone and internet companies are not doing disconnects and neither are cable services. Keep your rent paid. Keep your electric bill paid. NO you cannot be evicted in most places and no lights are being turned off but those bills will be due shortly after you are able to reopen in 2-4 weeks. The moratorium on those things will not last forever and if you have 2 or 3 months to make up it will be impossible for most of us. Credit scores may be impacted but everyone's will be impacted. You can fix that if you are still operational. You cannot fix your credit score or pay the bills that are due if the shop is closed permanently.