Tip for new hairstylists: Save your money

Rosanne Ullman | July 10, 2011 | 10:10 AM

"The benefit of this industry is that you get to make money from a passion. That's such a bonus in life. But there's work attached to that passion."—Tonia Patt, Director of Associate Recruiting and Relations for Ratner Companies


Successful working professionals put finances first. If you can get a job while you're still in school, you'll be ahead of the game, according to Tonia Patt, director of associate recruiting and relations for Ratner Companies, which operates The Hair Cuttery and Bubbles chains.

don't wait

"Most students get a good technical education but have had very little exposure to the work world," Patt explains. Working will give you practice in managing your money. And if you've had in-salon experience of any kind already, you're definitely a step ahead.

steady earnings

Because it is not out of the ordinary for new stylists to have an occasional slow week, your first salon may offer you a sort of financial safety net.

"When you’re just getting out of school, you may receive a base salary," says Anita Guttierez, Clairol Professional's Design Team lead color master. "In this industry we mostly work on commission, so having something you can count on at the beginning is nice." Be sure to ask for all the details on the starting pay program at any salons where you interview.

At some salons you'll have a choice about how to split up your paycheck. If benefits are offered, take advantage of them. It's smart to give up some take-home pay in order to put funds toward health insurance, retirement benefits, life insurance or an educational fund for ongoing training.

bank on it

Once you begin earning in earnest, any extra "discretionary" income needs, well, discretion! "A lot of new stylists live on their tips and don't save appropriately," says Clairol Professional Design Team artistic director Danny Lapointe.

If you don’t have one already, you'll need a checking account and a savings account. You need to record and track your income and expenses. Applying for a credit card can be a good idea, if you're careful. One late payment can put a black mark on your credit history and follow you far into the future. But being conservative with your charges and paying off the balance every month will show the financial world how responsible you are, and accelerate your ability to reach larger goals.

It's never too early to think about investing, adds Pierre Goneau, vice-president of education for KPSS, parent company of Goldwell and KMA. "Successful stylists have an incredible cash flow," Goneau notes. He recommends picking up a finance magazine and meeting with your bank's financial advisor. Find out what it would take for you to purchase your own car or home. Saving for a downpayment can be a great goal. Stick with it, Goneau says, and you will be that rare young professional who keeps a good chunk of the money you've worked hard to earn.

"Stylists might be driving a BMW, but they should be putting money aside.—Danny Lapointe, Clairol Professional Design Team artistic director

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