The Massage Myths series seeks to set the record straight with questions you may ask, or may be afraid to ask, with massage therapy.
This first article focuses on the common myth that regularly receiving massage therapy is across the board unaffordable.
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For those on a fixed lower income or simply going through a financial pinch, we might jump to the conclusion that regular massage therapy is a hard stop no go. In fact, many who aren't in those categories may still peg massage as "too expensive" to be a part of their regular care. Regular self-care services and products may certainly require a bit of forethought, creativity, and budgeting. Especially when we're looking for knowledgeable, quality, customized care - aka not just a cookie cutter experience.
But it's definitely doable for most folks. Here are a few tips on how:
#1 REDUCE OR RE-PRIORITIZE
Stash the cash you would use on something you don't necessarily need, and use those funds to take care of your body instead.
Cook a meal instead of ordering take out.
Hold off on buying those super seasonal cute shoes.
Negotiate to lower a bill or cancel a subscription service.
Do a quick Google search on "how to save more money each month" and you'll find more ideas that you know what to do with. Start small and simple. Select things you know you can stick with in the long-term. Then try a few more challenging ones once and a while to see how you feel and if they work for you.
Self-care is a long-term investment in yourself - in feeling the best you can feel. Re-frame cutting something out or reducing spending not as limiting, but as just making room for something you want more. As much as I LOVE my Friday night take-out tradition, if/when it comes down to it, I'd rather have the long-term benefits of regular massage therapy sessions than the tasty but short-term pleasure of take out.
#2 PUT IT ON THE LIST
Consider asking for massage therapy gift cards for any special occasion.
Whatever the occasion, let your friends and family know that if they'd like to get you something special, something you'd really enjoy, a massage is at the top of your wish list.
Make it easy for them. Write down the massage therapist/practice you go to, and if gift cards can be purchased online (with the website address), over the phone (with the number to call), or in person (with the location address).
#3 GET IT COVERED
Call your health insurance provider and ask if massage therapy is ever a covered medical treatment. And if so, what hoops you have to jump through for approval: a specific condition or event... a doctor's prescription... certain documentation from the massage therapist, etc.
If you get a flat out no, that's not necessarily the end of the road. When your policy is up for renewal, or if you switch policies, ask again. Things change.
Many massage therapy offices also accept HSA and FSA debit cards for payment. Coverage always depends on your specific plan, so be sure to check prior to your appointment if massage is covered. And again, if so, what documentation you may need to provide.
#4 SAVINGS PROGRAMS
Although a steep discount massage, like on Groupon, may be a great way to try several therapists out to find the best fit, your health is worth more than a one-off deal.
When you find a great therapist that works for you - stick with them! Scheduling your self-care only when you can find a bargain deal will likely just lead you in disappointment circles without the health outcomes you ultimately need.
Instead of deal-hopping, ask the massage therapist you really like about any long-term or loyalty savings programs they may offer - things like punch cards, packages, memberships, or seasonal specials.
Effective self-care is all about commitment and consistency. Savings programs that encourage a routine are better at getting us results than a one-time savings.
#5 GIVE IT A LINE
And the most overlooked and underutilized way to budget for your self-care is to literally give it a line in your budget.
Just like with saving for retirement, if it comes right off the top, the cash is there to make it happen. When we treat our self-care just like an ordinary bill or debt payment, we take it out of the "fun" money category and into the "priority" money category.
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Myths Article Series
Massage Myths: Regular Massage Therapy is UNaffordable Massage Myths: You Have to Bare It All Massage Myths: Deep Tissue or Bust Massage Myths: Talking Ruins the Experience Massage Myths: You Gotta Shave Massage Myths: Drinking Water Post Massage