Cost of Living

Today, for some random reason that wasn’t entirely thought through, I did some math to see if my current prices adequately reflect even a basic 4% cost-of-living raise since I’ve been doing nails.

Whew! The good news: Yes, they do. Kinda.

When I started doing nails in 1992, my entire service menu consisted of “Full Sets-$25/Fills-$15.” Over the next 22 years, my prices would fluctuate up, down, inside out, and round about. My service menu would also expand and contract.

Now I have to take into account fills versus backfills, and acrylic versus gel. After some quality time with the calculator, it looks like my current prices reflect a steady cost of living raise for the last 22 years.

I’m happy about that. Too many other techs I know are still charging the same prices they were 20 years ago, or are charging the going rate from 20 years ago.

But if the difference between my prices now and my prices from two decades ago reflects an annual cost-of-living raise, they don’t reflect any increase related to my years of experience, my dedication to honing my skills and expanding my knowledge base, continued education, competitions, industry participation and recognition, etc. Basically, no merit raises. Just cost of living.

If I were working in a different industry or held a different type of position and all I got for raises after 22 years of hard work, dedication, and extra-curricular training above and beyond the basics was a measly cost-of-living increase, I’d be feeling unappreciated. I probably wouldn’t still be working in that job, at least for that company. I’d have gone looking for a boss who appreciated me and was willing to pay me appropriately.

So whose office do I have to march in to? Who do I glower at and threaten with quitting if I don’t start getting what I deserve?

Yeah. Mostly it comes down to me. I’m the one who sets the prices. I guess I’m the one who hasn’t been paying me what I’m worth.

But I’m also on record from the way-back days as insisting that one needs to consider what their market will bear before one goes pricing themselves out of the nail biz and into another industry.

No matter what my “boss” would like to pay me, she can’t do it if her company can’t sell the product for enough to cover my salary.

All things considered, I keep busy. I have a loyal clientele and I keep the bills paid. I don’t go home feeling hurt, angry, or resentful about what my clients are willing to pay for my services.

I’m happy to discover that my income has kept up with the times so at least I’m not making essentially less money than I was when I started. And I haven’t done the math to figure out how income per hour differs from the way-back days, or how a different pricing structure affects my bottom line — like upcharging for nail art or gel-polish.

I have a feeling that another date with the calculator will reveal some happiness.

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