Noodles with hot sauce: How a hairdresser plans to stretch her $4,000 savings while she's out of work

Hairdresser Nina Job.
Photo by Katelyn Landis

Nina Job, a hairdresser based in Queens, New York, is working hard to staying positive during these difficult times. The 32-year-old co-owns a boutique hair care business called Gypsy Hair Co. She co-founded the two-person company in July 2019 and began drawing a monthly salary of about $2,600 in September.

The beauty industry was hit especially hard by the coronavirus outbreak and the widespread social distancing regulations, though, as makeup artists' and hairstylists' jobs require them to be physically close to clients. As of Friday, March 20, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered 100% of workers in nonessential services to stay at home and put stringent new restrictions on public life in New York state in general.

Gypsy Hair Co. has shut its doors indefinitely.

Job and her business partner rent a salon space in a co-working building for small salons. The building notified them after Cuomo's order that it would be freezing their rent. The two have decided if they pull any funds from the business for themselves in the near future, it will likely be less $1,000 each every month.

Having moved to New York from Detroit in 2008 with "absolutely nothing," Job says she remembers what it's like to budget and get creative about cutting back on living expenses like food. "You boil some noodles, you throw some hot sauce on it, that's called spaghetti," she says.  

Job currently has $4,000 in savings. Here's how she plans to make it stretch for as long as necessary.

The spending strategy: 'No more eating out'

Job spends about $250 per month on dining out, going to bars, and coffee. "No more eating out," she says. She plans on buying groceries, including affordable dry foods like oatmeal, beans, and rice. Rice, she says, is "dirt cheap, it goes with everything, and you can do anything with it."

Job also plans to cook in bulk and freeze meals. Carolyn McClanahan, a former physician and the director of financial planning at Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida, recently recommended batch cooking to Grow because it can be so much cheaper.

"One thing I like to do is prepare meals in advance," McClanahan said. "I'll cook a big pan of lasagna and freeze half of it. It makes you live healthier and it ends up being cheaper." 

To save more money, Job has switched to grocery shopping at local Queens grocers like United Brothers and Greenbay Marketplace, as opposed to at retailers like Whole Foods. "They have all your fruits and veggies," she says, "and you're paying, like, pennies." She believes shopping local will cost about a third of the price of the bigger supermarkets.

You boil some noodles, you throw some hot sauce on it, that's called spaghetti.
Nina Job

The saving strategy: 'My landlady would absolutely work with me'

Job pays $1,000 per month for her Queens apartment, which she shares with two roommates. Having lived in the same place for 10 years, she's built up a relationship with her landlady and feels comfortable discussing her financial situation.

"I know my landlady would absolutely work with me," she says. "She's probably gonna cut [rent] in half. … She knows now, at this point, we're all out of work."

Hairdresser Nina Job.
Photo by Angela Ranieri

Job's landlady also said rent would no longer be due on the first of the month. Hopefully, Job says, she and her roommates will have until midmonth to pay.

Money-saving expert Andrea Woroch says this is a good time to call mortgage lenders and landlords to "find out if you can defer payments or if you could pay less. ... There are options out there for people" who are worried about having to make these types of payments because of financial strain. 

If she must make sacrifices: 'Sell the car'

The social distancing order could last a long time, she knows, and her $4,000 in savings will eventually run out. Job is willing to make some tough choices. "Do I have to sell my car?" she asks. If so, "I'll sell the car."

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