It’s that time of year again when everyone, it seems, is traveling. I’ve already had two trips this spring, I’m leaving this week for a leadership training, and it now looks like I’ll be traveling a few days each month through the end of the year. Thus I started thinking about how I can save some money (since I’m also losing income while traveling) and decided to put together my list of how to save a few dollars on the essentials.

So here are my tips for cheap(er) vacationing!

  • Sign up for (or update) AirBnB*! Then spend some time finding the perfect place to stay. AirBnB offers all different price points, amenities, and locations that can save you a lot in accommodations.
  • Pack a cooler! A cooler works really well on road trips. Packing your own sandwiches, snacks, and cold drinks can save quite a bit and keep your tummy happier. Even if you only eat out of the cooler once a day, it adds up. If you’re not road tripping (or even if you are), consider hitting the prepared foods section of the local grocery for a salad or hot meal.
  • Fly on Tuesday or Wednesday. The experts that study the airline industry say these two days are best for cost savings!
  • Visit our state and national parks. There are usually low-cost entrance fees and many times have lots of activities available for no-cost beyond the entrance fee. These areas are also usually less crowded than other public use areas.
  • Seek out free walking tours, free days at museums and parks, or discounted matinee shows. Also, check out the local theater and orchestra schedule for free and discounted dress rehearsals.

So that’s my short list of how I save a few dollars when I have to be away from home whether it be a fun, summer vacation or a business trip.

Happy traveling!

***

*I list only AirBnB here because I’m an AirBnB host as well as an avid user of AirBnB.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage Specialist!
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With graduations pressing in on us from every direction, I’ve been thinking a lot about gifts and proper etiquette and things of that nature. Things have changed a lot since I graduated from high school and college and not wanting to just throw money and gift cards I got to thinking about the best gifts I’ve ever received. I find I don’t remember many gifts I’ve received…

Best Gift Ever!

Thirty years ago (gulp!) I received a toiletry kit from a family friend. It was a gift for my high school graduation. At the time I was less than thrilled with it. I wondered what possessed someone to give a young person a gift like that and admittedly I didn’t use it for a long time. In fact, I was probably in my last year of college before I pressed it into use.

Since then I’ve practically worn it out between all the personal travel and professional trips I’ve taken between two careers. In fact, I’ll be replacing the soap box before my next trip as it finally gave up the ghost. I suppose thirty years will do that to plastic.

When it broke, it made me a bit sad and I started to wonder if I could count up how many places it’s been with me. Alas, my memory is not that good, but it did make me remember how I felt all those years ago receiving it as a gift. And I began to examine why I now treasure it as one of the very best gifts I’ve ever received. My short-sighted, young mind never expected to live the life I’ve lived. Way back then I never thought I’d get to go to all the beautiful places I’ve visited. Thank goodness that family friend saw some sort of potential in me and had the foresight to play a small part in getting me ready to fulfill it.

She planted a seed of sorts. Made it a possibility that travel was in my future. She gave me something to work towards when I was a poor college graduate who could barely cover the bills. And now after all these years and all the traveling we’ve done together I don’t quite know how I would have gotten by without it.

I have a couple of nieces graduating this year. I hope the gifts they receive will inspire them as much as my little travel toiletry kit has for me.

So what do you count as the best gift ever received?

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Massage Specialist!

 

I’m headed off to Orange Beach, AL, this week for the 2018 AMTA-AL Chapter Spring Convention. The office will be closed for a few days while I take a class and spend some much needed time relaxing on the beach! No worries though, I’ll be back in the office on the 23rd.

BACK ON THE 23RD!

Until then, check my online schedule to see what’s available next week. If you can’t schedule it yourself, shoot me a text message and I’ll do it for you!

Have a great week everyone!

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Specialist!

You Get What You Pay For…

Recently I was on Facebook and saw an ad for a local chiropractor’s office offering three hours of massage for less than $100. I was instantly furious. Several thoughts bounced around the inside of my head while I was trying to determine what made me so mad. Was I upset about possibly losing business? Yes, but not so much for this kind of emotional reaction. Was it the chiropractor’s office? Maybe, but I’d never even heard of the place before. Was it the massage therapist? Maybe, but I didn’t even know who worked there. Was it the ad itself? Just a black and white text affair, blunt, but no. It took a bit before it finally coalesced to the point that I could put it into words.

Who in their right mind is willing to do three hours of massage for less than $100?

As an independent business owner and massage therapist the only scenario that makes sense is that the business is doing it to bring in more business. Okay, that’s one way to do it, but is the massage therapist getting paid a previously agreed upon minimum hourly rate? Or are they having to eat the cut rate? It’s one thing for me to decide to cut my rates and do a special, it’s another thing for an employer to decide that for me.

Let me break some of the numbers down and give you an idea of why I found myself so angry at this Facebook ad.

I’m an independent massage therapist whose rates are currently $70/hour. When I do an hour of massage I receive from my client $70. With that $70 I keep the doors open, the heat, air, lights, and water on, supplies stocked and pay any other business related expenses, pay taxes, pay myself so I can keep food on the table (and in the dog’s bowls) and a safe place for my family to live.

As an employed massage therapist when the employer runs a “special” the massage therapist typically takes at least a share of the hit. So that special for 3-hours for $100 works out to 1-hour for $33.33. The employer then takes their share which is negotiable at the time of employment and is typically 40-60% depending on what the employer supplies. So out of $33.33 the employer will take $13.33, if the massage therapist is lucky, leaving them $19.99 for an hour of massage. If they’re not so lucky those numbers flip, the house takes $19.99 leaving the massage therapist $13.33.

Now, I am fully in support of the house taking their cut, they have to in order to keep the doors open. But can you imagine going to school, graduating, being required to take and pass a national-level exam, purchasing and maintaining liability insurance, going through the process of becoming licensed by the state, maintaining continuing education hours in order to become a skilled professional all to be paid $13.33 for an hours worth of work?

I certainly cannot and before you move away from that list I just wrote about all the things you have to do to become a legally practicing professional massage therapist in the state of Alabama, consider that every single thing on that list takes money. Most of those steps take a lot of money.

So it’s just not feasible from a business standpoint for a massage therapist to agree to work for this kind of pay. They can’t keep up their certification and licensing much less put food on the table. Add to that, people flock to these kinds of deals giving that therapist a lot of work to do. So they’re wearing their bodies down without receiving sufficient resources to maintain their self-care or livelihood. I think we can all agree this is not good practice nor is it sustainable.

So who would agree to work for this pittance?

Unfortunately, the massage therapists who agree to work under these circumstances are often desperate for money and employment, very young, just graduated from massage school, have student loans coming due, and/or a combination of these. So deal shoppers who bounce from place to place looking for the cheapest deals are essentially taking advantage of someone who is already down on their luck or trying to get started. They also may not be receiving the best massages either because let’s face it, how good a job do you do when you’re stressed out and worried about how you’re going to pay the electric bill.

What Can We Do?

As a consumer of massage, you can either refuse to deal shop or if you do, tip the therapist directly at a very high percentage. If you can’t afford to make up the difference in the tip then book at least two more appointments at full price for every one appointment you get at a discounted rate, write a review for the therapist, and send your friends to that massage therapist. In other words, do all you can to support that person.

As a massage therapist, you can negotiate these things with your employer. It’s best if it’s in the employment contract or agreement, but you can still negotiate with them even after you’ve signed an agreement. Insist on a minimum rate of pay for your services. Insist on limits, both to the number of “deals” they offer per year and how many massages they sell at the discounted rate or give away for free. Don’t expect that to be an easy conversation, but nothing worth having comes easy or cheap. Also consider the possibility that self-employment may be a better option.

In a perfect world we would all get paid what we are worth. Unfortunately, our system doesn’t work that way and we get paid what we settle for or what the market will bear. As a massage therapist I choose not to settle for less and know that sometimes I’ll be slow because there are lots of deals floating around. As a consumer of massage I refuse to shop the deals because it artificially dilutes the value of massage therapy and makes it harder for all of us, consumers and massage therapists, to afford.

So if it sounds too good to be true, you know it probably is, at least in the long run. Anyway, here are a couple of related articles that you may now be interested in reading: How to support your favorite businesses for free and How to find a great massage therapist

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Specialist!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Whether you love it, or hate it, Valentine’s Day is here. If you’ve waited a little too long and need a little something for that special someone, click here to save the day with a gift certificate for a massage! Feeling a little down because you’ve not yet found that special someone? Why not give yourself the gift of relaxation?

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Ashiatsu Barefoot Specialist!

 

Here’s wishing you a very Happy and Prosperous New Year in 2018!

Black-eyed peas, turnip greens, cabbage, cornbread and ham are warming to cover us on that front. I hope you and yours are also abundantly blessed this New Years Day.

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Barefoot Massage Specialist!

So if you’ve waited until the final hours before you really need a gift for someone, have I got a deal for you!

Click here to buy a gift certificate for that special someone. All you need is an email address and a credit card and in just a minute you will be printing a gift certificate and stuffing it in a stocking. Easy peasy, and you are done!

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

 

Sharon Bryant Harvest Moon Massage Therapy is Decatur’s Barefoot Massage Specialist!
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