As hair professionals, we hear stories from the new marriage or birth of a child to the tragic loss of a loved one or serious illness. We hear it all! As a breed, we are resilient, caring and creative, and usually put others before ourselves. We’ll work while not feeling our best, all with a smile on our face. We’re focused on our craft, business, employees and customers, and often neglect to prepare for the unexpected.
Life is full of the unexpected, the question is, are you prepared for it? An illness, injury, birth or accident can affect our ability to earn income, so it’s imperative to be prepared.
I learned the hard way. When I was in my 20s, I was on my way to work in a state far from family and friends when my face went numb and looked paralyzed, I thought I had had a stroke. I had no insurance and no plan, but I did work for a caring salon owner who took me to the emergency room where I was diagnosed with a blood clot in my neck. I missed 3 weeks of work and the rent and bills piled up. Gratefully I had the support of my clients and salon owner, so I was able to keep my apartment, pay my bills and return to work. I was lucky, but that isn’t always the case.
I realized how completely unprepared I was for the unexpected but wasn’t really sure how to get better prepared, other than save money and get health insurance. So, I started with the hospital and doctors and asked them what insurance companies and plans they recommended and learned a great deal. The good news is, it’s much easier today due to organizations like the Professional Beauty Association, healthcare.gov and various other sources.
Fast forward - career, marriage, children, children’s college expenses, etc. all happened. I was so grateful to be living such a beautiful life and then I was diagnosed with Cancer, and five years later had Cancer a second time. Each time I missed several weeks of work and the good news is, I was prepared this time. I had savings, health insurance and even supplemental plans.
So, take a break from caring for everyone else in the next week or two and focus on YOU! Here are some things you can do to prepare for the unexpected.
- Save at least 3 months of income to cover expenses through a short-term loss of work, 6-12 is much better.
- Secure good health insurance. It’s hard contributing each month, but a major illness is far more expensive to pay for out of pocket.
- Shop around for good health plans that offer different deductibles and covered expenses. The Professional Beauty Association and healthcare.gov are great places to start.
- Monthly living expenses can pile up, so look into supplemental plans that pay for loss of income, medical expenses, and hospital stays. There are several to choose from like Aflac and Assurity.
- Devise a care plan with a designated support team. Will your spouse, friends or family be able to help you? If not, then who?
- Have a list of phone numbers, medications and other information you deem important available for your support care team. Include consideration for care of your family. For example, who can pick up your child from school/day care, feed/walk your animals, grocery shop and pay your bills?
- Some salons actually offer health benefits, so consider that when looking for employment. Often group health plans are more affordable.
If health insurance is not an option, consider these factors.
- Try to have at least 6-12 months of income saved for living expenses. Ask the hospital/doctors if they have a cash pay option - it can be substantially less sometimes.
- Request a payment plan, you can usually advise what you can afford to pay per month and payoff the debt over many months/years.
- Check with support groups and charities for financial assistance and help on how to navigate the healthcare system. There are many resources, start by asking medical professionals and doing an online search.
- Keep up with your monthly payments and they will be less likely to turn your account into the credit bureaus.
- Get a supplementary plan that pays for loss of work, hospital stays, surgeries, accidents etc. (Aflac, Assurity, etc.). The monthly out of pocket expense is low, do the research to find a plan that fits.
Most of all take care of your health and make a plan so you won’t stress over bills. By preparing for the unexpected, it alleviates anxiety because you know that whatever happens you have a system in place to deal with it.
My invincible twenty-year-old self NEVER would have thought these things would or could happen to me, yet they did.
I love being a hair professional and can't imagine being anything else, it is my life’s passion. Gratefully, learning some hard lessons early in life taught me to plan for the unexpected and that has allowed me to continue to do something that I truly love.
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