Well+Good’s monthly series Checks+Balanced was created to inspire more 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.
Here, Hope Zvara, a yoga teacher living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, shares her experience with loss of income due to injury from a concussion. Here's how the incident impacted her career as a yoga teacher, and, in turn, her finances.
Keep reading to see how a loss of income due to injury impacted one woman's finances—and how she's recovering, physically and financially.
Hope Zvara, 36, yoga instructor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Income: $120,000 before injury; $60,000 after injury; currently $100,000 per year. For 14 years, I owned a yoga studio here in Milwaukee. I was making about $120,000 per year through the studio and teaching yoga. Then, in 2016, I suffered a concussion. I was at a wedding and slipped on the floor while holding my child. I fell backward and hit my head on the concrete floor.
I was rushed to the emergency room and, at the time, the doctors were mostly concerned with stitching me up and making sure I had no broken bones. But in the days, weeks, and months that followed, I started experiencing more problems, including nausea, dizziness, and blurred vision. One time, I even almost passed out in the middle of a grocery store.
I was forced to stop teaching yoga, and I really couldn't do much of anything for two solid years. During that time, my income dropped to $60,000. (Even though I wasn't teaching, the yoga studio was still bringing in money, and my family also had income from my husband, who works in construction.)
I decided to close my yoga studio in July 2019, and I've since launched a new business called Mother Trucker Yoga, which is a video platform that teaches truckers stress-reducing techniques and yoga flows they can do in the cab of their truck. I'm on track to make $100,000 this year from the business. Even now, I still have nerve muscle damage in my right eye, (I've switched from contacts to glasses to help), and I still get dizzy if I stare at a screen for too long.
Mortgage: $1,750 per month. My husband and I have three kids, and we own our house, which is right outside Milwaukee, on 14 acres of land. We've lived here about eight years now.
Other recurring expenses: $316 per month. I pay $100 for our phone and Internet, $13 for Netflix, and about $100 for utilities. My husband and I both own our cars, so we don't have a car payment. I also have several monthly expenses for my business, like $10 for Quickbooks, $20 for website hosting, and $73 for the customer relationship management platform.
Food: $600 per month. I've been a pescatarian for almost 20 years, meaning I don't eat meat but I do eat fish. I just feel better when I eat this way, and I also try to avoid processed foods, because I've noticed they make me feel mentally foggy, which has been a recurring issue for me since my concussion. I try to buy local and non-GMO certified, when possible. I think of it as paying a bit more for better-quality food to avoid paying for prescriptions or doctor's visits due to health issues down the road.
My husband and kids eat meat, so we'll often buy a quarter of a locally raised cow, pig, or lamb and freeze the meat so we have it to eat for months. We also have 48 chickens that we use for eggs and meat as well. We don't eat out very much. Before the pandemic, my husband and I would have a date night at least once a month at a local Mexican restaurant we like, but since it's been closed, we haven't been doing that. We have been ordering in more, though, as a way to support local restaurants. I would estimate I spend $600 per month on food for our family.
Fitness: $400 per year. I love to take long walks outside, so I walk between two and five miles every day. We live in the country, which is visually beautiful. Spending time outside gives me time to clear my head and think more creatively about my business. I also have a yoga practice, which I do at home on my own. I have a gym membership, which I've still been paying during the pandemic because it's a local business I want to support. It actually just opened back up, with limited capacity of 12 people at a time. To go, you book a time slot ahead of arriving. The membership is $200 for six months, and I like to go so I can work on my strength training, resistance training, and core work.
Beauty: $500 per year. In terms of beauty, one way that I save money is that my sister is a hairdresser; I haven't paid for a haircut in years! But there are some skin-care and makeup products I like to use. One skin-care brand I really like is Monat—their products are really awesome.
Other wellness habits: $200 per month. I do take a few supplements as part of my wellness routine. Wisconsin isn't the most sunny state, so I take vitamin D daily. I also take a probiotic, an omega-3 supplement, and a multivitamin for women every day. I'm very picky about what supplements I buy—I really research the companies to ensure they're high quality.
I'm a big believer in massage therapy, and I also go to the chiropractor regularly. This has become especially important after my concussion—I find that going to both regularly can make a big difference in terms of lessening my symptoms. Since the massages are medical massages, they are partially covered by my husband's insurance, so I pay $100 per massage and go once a month. My chiropractor visits are not covered by insurance, and I go twice a month, paying $70 each time. It's an expense I feel good about because my chiropractor truly was pivotal in my recovery.
My concussion has impacted my finances—and my life—greatly. Fortunately, though, I have found ways to manage it, and I'm really exited about my new business.
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