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15 Little Life Hacks

Case Study: How a yoga instructor handled losing 40% of her income

55 Comments- Get free updates of new posts here

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As I’ve been traveling around on my media tour, I’ve been doing local meetups in a bunch of cities. One of the things people have been telling me is they want more in-depth case studies of people dealing with money. Today, I’m trying something new. With the help of Janna Santoro, we’re posting in-depth looks at how people deal with money.

Let me know what you think — is the style right? What would you like to see more/less of? And if you’re interested in having us do a case study of you, follow the link at the bottom of this post.

* * *
This is a guest post by Janna Marlies Santoro, a freelance writer and editor working toward the goal of increasing her income by $1,000 per month.

In this profile, meet Asia Nelson, owner of Pranalife Yoga in Ontario, Canada, who who went from earning $5k/month in a stressful corporate job to earning almost $3k/month working 1/3 the time doing something she loves. As you read, notice how Asia:

• Uses free time to earn more (instead of whining about how much her expenses are)
• Has a low monthly burn rate and ahead for slow business by setting up a rainy-day fund
• Is productizing her knowledge so she can scale her business

Now, read on…

j750x350-03393

Asia’s Financial Stats

Pay Day: on average $2,800/mo
Expenses: $2,300/mo
Big Ticket Items:
Car=$700/mo, including monthly payment, insurance, registration, maintenance and gas.
Rent=$550/mo, including Internet and utilities.
Food=$400/mo.
Urge to Splurge: Travel
Money Philosophy: “In yoga, breath is the source of life and your key meditation tool. Money is like breath: You definitely miss it if it’s not there. If you have an even flow in and out, you’re healthy. If you can take more in when you need it, and let it out when you need to, you’ve got a good system to feed your life.”

Hard Numbers

When Asia left her job as an interactive design advisor to start Pranalife in 2006, she was making well over $5,000 a month. That number dropped to as low as $500 during her first six months of business. The only reason she made that leap, she says, is that she was so in love with the idea of teaching yoga.

During those first months, Asia lived on a line of credit until her bank called with the news that the credit line was about to turn into a loan – a loan that she’d have to start paying back. “I asked myself what I really wanted and what I’m willing to do to get it,” she says. “I didn’t want to replace a stressful life that I didn’t enjoy with another stressful life that wasn’t making any money.”

It forced her to start looking critically at what she was doing. She made drastic changes and implemented several critical strategies:
• Purged negative and unsupportive relationships
• Took time to observe what parts of her business worked and focused on doing them well
• Recruited mentors, asking them what to do today to stop the bleeding
• Leveraged relationships at her bank and, with projected income statements signed by studios where she taught, petitioned for a new line of credit
• Got a commissioned sales job, which allowed her to work on her own time and still bring in extra cash

Before the sales job, Asia says she was freaking out, attempting to run Pranalife based on earning money as fast as possible. She was broke and had to get people to come to her yoga classes. The sales job freed her to make smarter business decisions.

Breaking Even

From there, Asia came to a place where, over time, she established a name for herself. She also knew the value of a quality web site. Because of that presence, one phone call gave her the niche she’s built her brand around.

“A big breakthrough came with discovering private yoga instruction,” Asia says.

But when she got the call, Asia had no experience with private yoga instruction. So she spent money to make money and signed up for her own private sessions, which allowed her to learn the nuances of private instruction and modify her teaching accordingly.

“Now I can make $60-$120 an hour from one client instead of trying to herd people into a class for the same or less money. I niched and flourished.”

Asia is also no stranger to feast-famine cycles. “My father was a contractor in the oil field so we were always having to plan for the down times,” she says, “and I’d been a student for seven years, squirreling away when I needed to and dealing with ups and downs.”

By dialing in her income cycle – the motivated months of January and September versus the slacker months of December and August – she budgets accordingly for the year based on her average monthly income. She adapts and uses the down times for personal development, research, business planning and writing.

Asia also considers herself a low-maintenance spender who lives simply. “I keep my material possessions to a minimum,” she says, “and put money toward a good trip instead.” But she does spend when necessary, like on her car: a $5,000 purchase that she’s paying off at $400 a month. “I hate interest,” she says, “so I take the big per-month hits in order to get things paid off quickly.”

Forecasting

Once she stopped worrying about her cash flow, Asia moved from short-term, fast-money-making thinking to understanding long-term investments. Her long-term investments with Pranalife include developing training for yoga teachers, planning yoga retreats and writing a book. Moving away from the time-for-money model, she’s implementing things now that will bring her returns in five years.

Asia now averages about $2,600-$3,000 a month, working 1/3 of the time as her previous job. “That’s where I’m really rich,” she says. “I have control over how I spend each day, which is more valuable to me than anything.”

* * *
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55 Comments on "Case Study: How a yoga instructor handled losing 40% of her income"

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Georgette
7 years 3 months ago

This is great! Please keep up the series. Love the book, btw.

Nathan
Nathan
7 years 3 months ago
Excellent – I like this a lot. I love to hear action orientated stories of how people manage their careers and finances. Couple of questions: 1. It states her pay day (I assume total income) is $2,800 and her expenses are $2,300. Where does the extra $500 go? Savings, invested back into her business, shopping, etc? 2. I like the second sales job to supplement income. Is this meant to be a short-term solution to generating income while her business gets up and running? Also curious to what kind of sales job allows her to work reasonable hours to generate… Read more »
Dave
7 years 3 months ago

It’s always inspiring to see someone take charge of his or her life and work for goals. Asia is being proactive and I personally would like to see more stories like this.

Dave

Andrew
Andrew
7 years 3 months ago

I like it, although I would like to see more specific information about her spending, much like my favorite ‘money diaries.’

Jen Makes Office Supply Art
7 years 3 months ago

This post came at the perfect time for me! I’m also in the process of starting my own business (life coaching and writing) and there was some great information in here that gave me some confidence in my own success.

Willie Jackson
7 years 3 months ago

I like this case study idea a lot, Ramit. I’d also be interested in being able to follow updates on her successes and lessons learned.

She will undoubtedly have to mitigate unforeseen obstacles, and I would love to see how she applies sound financial principles and solid decision-making to address them.

Cheers from Atlanta.

topseekrit
topseekrit
7 years 3 months ago

I’d like to know how Janna is doing with her 6 month goal 🙂

I would like to see more details on the 5 critical changes she made; think they would make for great posts. Enjoyed this very much though.

Eileen
Eileen
7 years 3 months ago

The concluding paragraph states: “Asia now averages about $2,600-$3,000 a month, working 1/3 of the time as her previous job.”

Does this include her part time sales job? If it does, does she forsee being able to give up that sales job in the future?

Kelly
7 years 3 months ago

I like it, but would love to see more detailed info on discretionary spending a la The Money Diaries. Blending the 2 would make a really interesting series.
And as someone else mentioned, having followups would be neat too.
I would participate if I can be anonymous!

Peter Koman
7 years 3 months ago

Great post. I say, if possible just do what feels right to you. For example I just switched to four day work week. It’s what I always wanted, to have more free time, to read, exercise, visit art galleries… So I went and talked to my boss about it. He of course wasn’t happy, but after two months he’s as happy as a very happy person. That’s because my work improved dramatically and that’s what matters. And working 4 days and having 3 day off compared to 5/2 makes a big difference.

Jason
Jason
7 years 3 months ago

Great article!

It’s important she was able to recognize the feast/famine cycles. I wonder how many years it took her to recognize that as a normal cycle of her clients, vs something differently she was doing (marketing?) to affect it.

Brad
Brad
7 years 3 months ago

Good job.
1. I like the “Financial Stats”
2. Maybe fix: “in Ontario, Canada, who who went from earning $5k/month”
3. I think we all appreciate a detailed breakdown of “hard numbers” and then an explanation of how people manage making sacrifices for things they truly believe in (control over her time, in this case).

Dana
7 years 3 months ago

I see this post incorporates a bit of Tim Ferriss’ ideas of valuing one’s time as much as the money that comes with working. A very good remainder that finding a balance between making a living and taking control of one’s time are equally important when it comes to defining success.

Asia Nelson
7 years 3 months ago
Wow – I’m so glad everyone was happy to read my story! Janna – awesome job!! To address some of the follow-up questions. The “extra” money I make (it never really feels like that!) goes directly to paying down that loan from when I was starting up and on a steep learning curve. For my second job I did sales for an industrial sign company, so I took contracts when I had the time and it was very flexible. I did that job for about a year, and then was able to move to full-time yoga instruction when my private… Read more »
Anne Good
7 years 3 months ago

Ramit,
The case study work format works well for a couple of reasons:
– it humanizes the big picture topics you so often discuss.
– when people share their story it allows readers to take bits and pieces of their experience and apply to our own financial lives.

Asia,
Thank you for sharing your story!

Eileen
Eileen
7 years 3 months ago

Asia, thanks for posting an answer to the follow up questions! I’m glad to hear you were able to drop the sales job in a relatively short time span 🙂

Robert
Robert
7 years 3 months ago

Seven hundred a month for the car- 150 more than her rent? WTH? She should live in the car…
We have three vans, one a business vehicle and I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $400/mo for total vehicle expenses. This is in Cali, btw.

liv
liv
7 years 3 months ago

yeah i like these case study things. they’re much more personal and inspirational than a regular article.

mike
mike
7 years 3 months ago

Paying $700/month for a car is foolish. I’m not following in this person’s footsteps. Sorry.

Nikc
7 years 3 months ago

700/month seems about right with everything included. It’s high, but it’s not unbelievable. I bet if most people (paying on a new car) broke down car payment/insurance/gas and all that it would be something around there.

Antonio Fisher II
7 years 3 months ago

Ramit, I think the case studies are tremendous, It is always encouraging to see real life examples of people that step out and make things, happen…I stepped out a year ago and failed but I learned and I am ready to step back out.

JT
JT
7 years 3 months ago

I really like the case study and the money diaries…I think its great to see real world examples in action. I love reading the comments on it too…in this case, this looks like a pretty together women who wants to go after her dreams. Great stuff!

RAjeev Kumar Singh
7 years 3 months ago

Inspiring tale..Must say that this has inspired me to give really hard thought on the way I look at my money… It is imporatant at the end of the day to be master of your own money and time.. this is waht one tends to achieve by achieving financial independece. The absolute amount is not that important.
Please share more of such stories.

Asia Nelson
7 years 3 months ago

Yes, my car expenses are crazy right now! Keep in mind that $400/mo of that is the payment I’m making so as to have the car paid off in one year. Also, with most of my private clients I go to them in the comfort of their homes so I spend a fair amount of time driving places each day. And because my car is central to my biz and I spend so much time in it, I have the best insurance possible.

Kay
Kay
7 years 3 months ago

Thanks for sharing this story. It’s very positive and interesting.

Satvik
Satvik
7 years 3 months ago

Why are people criticizing the fact that she’s paying extra on the car? That means paying less in interest overall.

Asia, I like your website a lot. Very simple and to the point.

Debbie
Debbie
7 years 3 months ago

What a great inspiring story to start the day with!
Thank You & Abundant Blessings to all!

MoneyEnergy
7 years 3 months ago

Thanks, Asia, for sharing your story and your comments on this article. I’ll check out your website next. Interesting to hear you were inspired from this blog and the 4HWW – it would be great to hear more of the internal dialogue you had to go through to get through “the dip” as Seth Godin calls it.

Jonathan Vaudreuil
7 years 3 months ago

I’m hoping to launch my own small business in the next few years. This post’s topic was spot-on and I’d love to see more of it.

I want to echo those asking for more detailed information on someone’s personal finances for a case study. Those details are sometimes the most fascinating parts.

F
F
7 years 3 months ago

Nice story, really well-written (‘sound bite’), although I wouldn’t mind some extra depth either, as in how did she arrive at some of her ideas (e.g. the book).

mae
7 years 3 months ago

good post. it gives me an idea

Foxie @ Foxy Finances
7 years 3 months ago

Great new series, very inspirational so I hope you keep it up! Both this and The Money Diaries make for great stories, reading about financial principles is really all the same, but seeing how some people live (or don’t) them out is the best way to inspire changes in one’s own financial house! I only hope that someday I’m as lucky as Asia and find a way to niche myself into self-employment. 🙂

Dee
Dee
7 years 3 months ago

Asia, I’m not sure what you mean when you say you “fired your bad/uncommitted clients.” Are you referring to your yoga students? Everything is always in flux, including your students. And as a yoga student of 15+ years, whose finances frequently bottom up, I’m simply unable to commit to ongoing lessons. It saddens me to think that you would “fire” those who can’t commit to you, when you seem unwilling to commit to them and be supportive of life stuff that often keeps people from doing the things that can help them blossom and grow.

Amy
Amy
7 years 3 months ago
Something about the car bothers me. Does anyone here know if trying to pay off a $5000 car in one year makes sense? If I have a car that I completely need for work every day and drive it around a lot, one that’s bound to have some serious repairs soon since it only cost $5000, and then I pay high insurance on it to keep me safe and pay for repairs that might amount to more than the car is worth . . . is she flushing money down the tubes? Sounds like a money drain with tons of… Read more »
Foxie @ Foxy Finances
7 years 3 months ago
“f I have a car that I completely need for work every day and drive it around a lot, one that’s bound to have some serious repairs soon since it only cost $5000[…]” Amy, that view is fairly narrow-sighted. There are MANY fine examples of cars in that price range that will last, price has NOTHING to do with the mechanical needs of a car. I’ve heard many horror stories about brand new cars having failing components, all the way up to total engine failure before 10k miles. (The newest bad stories I’ve heard involve the Mitsubishi Evo X, all… Read more »
Amy
Amy
7 years 3 months ago
The Mitsubushi you mentioned, yes. It mostly depends on the model you choose. I think I made a valid point, and I do feel that a $5000 car is probably one that is rapidly approaching (if not exceeding) 100,000 miles, and all kinds of maintenance expenses once that mile marker is reached. Going gung-ho on paying it off with huge monthly payments, and getting no return on that car once it’s reached its end . . . combined with huge insurance payments on a car whose damage in an accident could easily exceed or at least come close to exceeding… Read more »
Danielle
7 years 3 months ago

I like the case study format!

trackback
7 years 3 months ago

Wealth / Money Expert for Teens – sharing the ‘best of the web’ this week…

What teens need to know about money – a wealth of resources and information at your fingertips:
60% of NBA players broke after 5 years
7 ways saving money is like losing weight
New financial literacy game blends fiscal and physical fitness
Suze Orman …

C
C
7 years 3 months ago

I like the case study format.. To the 2nd commentator and others who are interested, “hiremymom.com” has a lot of commission based and work from home jobs available.. I signed up in Feb and was able to get 2 offers/independent contractor jobs within a couple of weeks..

AD
AD
7 years 3 months ago

I would LOVE follow-ups and some of the more in-depth info because I have been considering yoga certification. Rather than work for a studio, though, I would want to do more of my own thing, but the idea of renting a space did not sound very appealing. How great to learn there’s another way to run a yoga business that works.

@Amy–How did you find your locations, and what sort of agreement did you work out with those spaces? I like your site, by the way. Very clean look and well organized.

Dana Springer
Dana Springer
7 years 3 months ago

I love this–I need to read how other people are becoming improving their lives (or not). It helps me make my own decisions. I’m re-subscribing to your site, because of this post. Please keep it up!!

Asia Nelson
7 years 1 month ago
Ok, 2 points to address: 1. When I “fired” my clients, that meant I dropped private clients who weren’t matching my vision and dedication. For example, I had a handful of people who had the money/could afford me, but who were not dedicated. This meant I would often be left outside their home during a scheduled session time b/c they forgot to let me know they’d be gone. They’d still pay me, but that’s not the kind of relationship I want to have with my clients. It’s as much an energy exchange as a financial one. Letting go of those… Read more »
Laura Slavov
8 months 6 days ago

Hi, I am Laura, retreat leader and teacher on Abundance Yoga. I just want to ask that the website is going great right now, So are you guys accepting guest post right now? I want to share my valuable experience with all.

Shay
7 months 16 days ago

This is a great article and very similar to my story. I too am in the full-time business of wellness (Which is really more like 3/4th time) and while I do not make millions , I love my free time, personal power over my schedule and freedom it brings. Live simply that is a recipe for a happy and stress free life.

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sur le jardinage c’est ravissant-jardin.fr. A découvrir 🙂

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