Creating a Simple Budget

Let’s face it. Most hairdressers don’t find the idea of planning a budget an exciting way to spend your free time. We love to plan our weekends, what we’ll eat for dinner, or what we’ll wear tomorrow, so balancing the amount we spend versus the amount we earn seems like an unwelcome 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 Coach bag or you’ll be eating mac and cheese for the next week. Being aware of your cash flow can keep you from pulling out the credit card It also helps you develop a plan for saving and investing— something we don’t think much about in the beauty profession.

When creating a simple budget, you’ll categorize your income and expenses, then explore a system for tracking them.    

Budget Based on Income 

If you’re an employee, keeping track of your total income for the month should be fairly simple. If you’re an independent hairdresser or barber, it may not be as cut and dried. Your client appointments probably vary from week to week, 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.

Budget for Expenses 

Taking an honest look at your expenses may be surprising. Budgeting isn’t supposed to make you feel guilty, but rather to give you the knowledge of where your money is going each month so that you can feel good about the choices you are making. As a hairdresser, you work hard for your money, so you want to direct it to the right places.

Begin with the major expenses, then drill it down. 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.  

Dollar sign fadingHome 

  • Electricity 
  • Internet/cable 
  • Mortgage/rent 
  • Phone 
  • Water/sewage/garbage 

Food and Household/Toiletry Items 

  • Groceries 
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Personal items (toilet paper, shampoo, make-up, etc.)


  • Car payment/insurance 
  • Gas  
  • Parking 
  • Public transportation 
  • Repairs 

Self-Care and Fun 

  • Entertainment (dinner, movies)
  • Gym membership 
  • Health insurance 
  • Massage/facials/hair care 
  • Medications 


  • 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.

Creating a Simple Budget Tracking System

The next step is choosing a budgeting tracking system. I know this sounds like real work, but dig deep and find the will and determination to try something new—a strategy is crucial to successful budgeting.

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 a hairstylist, not an accountant.” If you shy away from using an app, there is another way. It’s called “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 budget.  

Whichever tracking system you use, it has to work for you. It may take a little time and practice, but after a few months, it will become second nature.

Include a Financial Cushion when Budgeting

Let’s face it, unexpected expenses will happen. Your cat needs to see the vet. Your water heater is kaput. Your tires on your car are completely bald. This is when saving for an emergency fund is key. Choose the amount that makes you feel secure. Once you have a cushion built up, you won’t have to panic when unexpected expenses arise. 

fan of moneyBudget for Retirement Early

In the beauty industry, it seems that retirement planning isn’t at the top of the priority list. It’s important to consider some options now—even if retirement seems a long way off. 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

Minding budgeting details may seem like as much fun to you as watching paint dry, but those details can offer all sorts of improvements in 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?

  1. Lets you track your financial goals.
  2. Will help organize your spending.
  3. 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.

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