Checks+Balanced

COVID-19 Forced This Hair Salon Owner To Close Up Shop—Here’s How She’s Making Ends Meet

Emily Laurence

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Photo: Getty Images/Westend61; Logo: W+G Creative
Welcome to Checks+Balanced, where women of varying income brackets reveal how much they spend on (and how they budget for) wellness in order to spread transparency and maybe a little inspo. See All

Well+Good’s monthly series Checks+Balanced was created to inspire more openness about money. Because, for some reason, the ever-ubiquitous use of money remains a touchy subject for many—even if every other possible topic of conversation is on the table. Because of this, you may well wonder how your friend affords tri-weekly yoga classes or your colleague with the same salary as you (or so you think) can buy fancy lunches every day. That’s where we come in: By lifting the thick, tightly drawn curtain to expose how much women of varying income brackets spend on wellness, we’re spreading transparency and hopefully providing some inspo that’s possible to copy.

And while openness about budgeting, spending, and finances is always important, it’s especially crucial right now, during a pandemic, when so many people are struggling financially. Below, hair salon owner Karen Glasgow, who lives in Long Island, New York, shares how the coronavirus has affected her income and spending habits since she closed her shop on March 23.

Keep reading to see how Glasgow’s business closure due to COVID-19 affected her personal finances.

business closure due to covid-19
Art: W+G Creative

Karen Glasgow, 52, Long Island, New York

Income: $98,000 before COVID-19; currently $0. I opened my salon 13 years ago, in 2007. It’s been a long, hard road. After I opened the salon, I started school to earn my bachelor’s degree and then my master’s degree. Because I had the salon, I went to school part-time and finally graduated in 2019.  I honestly could not have gone to school and opened the salon without the help of Dress For Success, which has been so supportive of me achieving my dreams. Last year was the first year that I finally made a profit. I met with my accountant in March 2020, and we had a little celebration because I was finally out of the red. But then COVID-19 hit.

I previously supported myself through loans and also my husband’s income, which is $75,000. My husband is still working, so now we are back to living solely off his income. I did apply for and receive a stimulus check of $3,000, and I used it for payroll and a portion of rent of the salon. It didn’t go very far in terms of helping with the expenses I’m losing.

Mortgage and rent: $4,177 per month. My husband and I own our home, and our mortgage is $1,977 a month. The rent for the salon is $2,200 per month and an extra $500 per month for the taxes. Even though the salon has been closed, I still have to pay the rent for it. I typically contribute $2,400 a month to household expenses, including mortgage and rent, recurring expenses, and food, and my husband pays toward the rest.

Other recurring expenses: $1,948 per month pre-COVID-19; $1,448 currently. Besides my mortgage and rent, my biggest recurring expense was my student loan payment, which was $500 a month. I’ve paused my payments on that since the salon has closed. Besides that, though, monthly expenses include a car payment of $400, $60 for cable, $78 utilities for our home, $160 monthly phone bill, $500 for expenses for the salon including utilities, cable, and Internet, and $250 business insurance per month, all of which I am still paying.

Food: $300 per month. We don’t eat out or get takeout very often and haven’t at all during the pandemic, given that restaurants have been closed. So, we do a lot of cooking. I’m a vegetarian, but my husband eats meat, so I tend to cook us separate meals. (I cook almost everything we eat.)

Some of the meals I like to make are rice and red beans, broccoli and fish, and chicken for my husband. I do all my food shopping either at Wal-Mart or Trader Joe’s because both places have a lot of healthy options. I would estimate I spend $300 a month on food, which  hasn’t changed during the pandemic—but what has changed is how frequently I shop. Now, instead of going every week, I go less frequently and stock up on more pantry items and frozen foods.

Fitness: $0 per month. I do yoga at home every day. I wake up really early—around 4:30 a.m.—and yoga is part of my morning routine. I used to watch yoga videos on YouTube, but now I just move through a flow based on the poses I want to do. After I finish yoga, I sometimes go on the elliptical, which I have at home. I use the rest of the morning to read and just tune in to myself. That’s the one part of my day when it’s really quiet.

Beauty: $400 per month before COVID-19; $200 per month currently. Before COVID-19, I used to get my nails and hair done regularly. Now, I keep my nails short, and I also do my eyebrows myself now, instead of getting them done.

Before COVID-19, I used to do all the styles: braids, weaves, natural twists…anything that makes me more relevant in the beauty industry. But now, because I can’t get my hair done or go to the beauty-supply store, I cut off all my hair and wear my hairpiece. Before the pandemic, my biggest beauty expense were my weaves, which was about $200 a month. Because I do it myself, there’s no cost to getting it done but just buying the hair can be that much, sometimes even $300 or $400.

In terms of makeup and skin care, I wear just a little makeup. I like to give myself a little finger-facial every night right before bed by moving my fingers in a circular motion to increase blood flow in my face. I like to use all-natural products, like sunflower oil and grapeseed oil, so that’s really all I put on my skin.

Other wellness habits: $150 per month before COVID-19; $50 per month currently. Before the pandemic, I would get full-body and foot massages as part of my health and wellness regimen, which cost between $60 and $150 per month. I take several supplements every day, something I did before the pandemic and still do now. I’m Caribbean, which means I’m used to the sun, so a vitamin D supplement is important for me. I also take a probiotic and vitamin B12, which helps me pump up my energy. I also take vitamin E, which is good for skin. Since the pandemic, I started taking vitamin C as well, to help with my immune system. I spend about $50 a month on supplements.

Even with New York allowing for salons to open, I do not yet feel comfortable, safety-wise, with opening mine. I have a meeting with my landlord coming up to see if we can work something out with the rent, but I’m really not sure what terms we’ll come to. The pandemic has impacted my finances very much. Just when I had climbed out of debt, I was knocked back down.

Want help navigating life events during uncertain times? Head to Fidelity for intel on handling everything from curveballs like job loss or illness, to joyful moments like babies, marriage, or new homes.

If you want to be featured in Well+Good’s Checks+Balanced series, email emily@wellandgood.com.

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