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Figure out your finances to eliminate one major source of stress. The other benefit? You just might make your dreams come true.

Do what you love, and the money will follow. If that bit of conventional wisdom has disappointed you, that's a good indication you've let your finances get away from you. Maybe you’ve built up a lot of debt, or you’re regularly outspending your income. The situation won’t improve until you face it and commit to making changes—because, as a salon professional who loves what you do, you shouldn’t be stressed by money.

“The piece that’s missing is the connection between creating beautiful hair and skin and putting gas in your tank and food on your table,” says Renee Hyderi, Ulta manager of salon operations and business training. Ulta trains its more than 6,000 salon pros throughout the country with Path to Abundance program which unlocks financial independence and stability with these keys:

  • Balance your budget. This is simply living within your means—aligning your monthly expenses to your monthly income.
  • Track spending. Are you at Starbucks twice a day? It adds up! Looking at the figures can be a wakeup call, and often you can keep your lifestyle in a less costly way.
  • Grow income. Work smarter, not harder. Recruiting enough clients to have a full book is an initial goal; Ulta stylists learn how to go out into the store and serve as a beauty coach to turn a product customer into a service and product client. But building each client’s ticket is working smarter because it multiplies your income while adding little or no work time.
  • Pay down debt. A house or car payment is one thing, but you will feel lighter when you’re not carrying around a load of credit card debt. The Path to Abundance program outlines a method to get out of debt.
  • Save for life. Plan now for your later years. Ulta matches the funds staffers invest in a 401(k) plan.

“When we break down expenses month by month, stylists begin to understand they must take responsibility,” Hyderi says. “It’s within everybody to do that. We get a lot of young salon professionals who are living with their parents, and in our sessions, we discuss why the lifestyle that seems great today might not seem as great in five years. They get excited about creating a budget and planning to get an apartment. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, what kind of stress does that build on you? We talk about saving three months of expenses because you never know what will come up in life—your car breaks down or you have a medical issue and can’t work for a while. Financial prosperity means different things to different people. We customize goals to reflect what’s important to each person.”

To generate more income, Hyderi advises stylists just starting out in the industry to make themselves available nights and weekends instead of opting to only be available for daytime hours.

“Investing in your career by working those hours helps you build a clientele that appreciates your work enough to eventually adjust their schedule to see you during the hours you’d prefer to work,” Hyderi says.

If Ulta’s experience is any indication, the rate of turnover in the industry will drop when salon pros learn to manage their finances.

“We had a nearly 70% turnover when we started the Path to Abundance program in 2008,”  Hyderi says. “We launched it in the heat of the recession when sales were going down, but we knew it was the right thing to do. It took about three years to take root in our culture, and then we started to see the seeds of success. Today, our turnover of full-time stylists is 37%, which is low for this industry.”

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