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October 21, 2013

4 Easy Ways to Find Financial Success as a Yoga Teacher. ~ Cailen Ascher

For yoga teachers talking about money is often the verbal equivalent of nails on a chalkboard—we avoid it at all costs.

But, like it or not, money “makes the world go ‘round”, or so they say, and in order to enjoy a fruitful, fulfilling life, you have to be money-smart.

People with nine-to-five jobs have it easy—their employers automatically deduct money for taxes, health insurance and retirement savings from their paychecks. But, as yoga teachers, we function as small business owners and we have to be even more wary of tracking our funds if we want to enjoy financial stability and security.

If thinking about your finances is the last thing you feel like doing, I hear ya. It’s not my favorite thing either, but it’s necessary. Just think of it as that one yoga pose you can’t stand but you know you’ll feel better for moving through it in your practice. And, the poses we like the least, are often the ones we need the most.

If you’re ready to proudly claim your spot as a money-smart yoga teacher, here are four ways to set yourself for financial success.

1. Set An Income Goal

The simple act of writing your salary goal on paper will help you achieve it!  Now, when you do this, don’t just arbitrarily pick a number out of thin air, think about your living expenses, what you need to set aside for taxes, insurance and other necessities. Also consider what amount of “extra” income you would like for extras like dinners out and travel.

Once you know how much you need to live the lifestyle you want, you can break it that number down into categories to see how much money you need to be bringing in from public classes, private clients, workshops, retreats, teacher trainings, speaking gigs, etc. to make that income goal a reality for yourself.

2. Keep Track

Even though your primary passion is teaching yoga, that doesn’t mean you can let the business side of things slip—especially if you want to increase the money you’re making! Keep a detailed spreadsheet and input how much money you bring in, from what, how much money you spend and on what you spend it.

Keeping track will give you a clear sense of which are the most profitable aspects of teaching and which aren’t.  Also, come tax time, you’ll be able to see what expenditures you can write-off, like additional trainings that you took or the money you spent on gas driving to and from the studio.

3. Give Yourself A Raise

Most yoga teachers do not charge what they’re worth. You’ve spent thousands of dollars on trainings, have taught for hundreds of hours, and yet you’re working for $15-35 an hour.

First and foremost, you need to recognize, acknowledge and honor that you’re worth it!  Your knowledge of yoga and your ability to teach it is valuable to people—and it’s okay to charge for it.

Charging for services is merely an exchange of value—the value of your teaching for monetary value. Nothing more, nothing less. Take a look at the salary goal you set for yourself, and then seriously consider raising your hourly rate if what you’re charging now isn’t affording you the lifestyle you want and deserve.

4. Save

Now that you’ve given yourself a raise, hopefully you’re making enough money to be able to save some. Instead of dumping all your extra earnings into one catch-all account, create separate savings accounts for each item you’re saving for. For example, have one account for taxes and insurance, another for retirement, another for business savings and one for personal savings. That way, when tax time rolls around you won’t suddenly see your personal savings dip dramatically.

Or, if you want to go on a 5-day yoga retreat to Mexico, you can see if you have enough in your business savings to make it happen—and then write it off as a biz expense!

Financial security isn’t the sexiest of topics but it’s a necessary one, especially if you’re hoping to grow your teaching into a source of steady part- or full-time income.

Plus, when you get money-smart, track your expenses and see where the “holes” are in your budding yoga biz, you’ll be able to remedy them before they turn into big problems. Also, you’ll notice the most profitable areas of teaching and be able to capitalize on them moving forward! It’s a total win-win.

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Assistant Ed. Paige Vignola/Ed: Bryonie Wise

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