How To Not Feel Guilty About Charging Your Clients

Happy massage practice owner charging her client for services without feeling guilty

Massage therapy is a valuable service that can produce real results. But it requires lots of training, skill, effort and time. So why is it that some therapists feel guilty about charging for their services? Sometimes it is a self-limiting belief that makes the massage therapist feel guilty when charging clients.

Money is a sensitive topic for many people. Many therapists and others in the healing professions state that they are “not in it for the money”. But that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t get paid for their work.

It gets even more confusing for people who have found a career that they really enjoy. There is often an element of guilt about accepting payment to do work that is also rewarding and enjoyable. Don’t let this guilt stop you from enjoying this fulfilling and rewarding career.

The reality of running a professional massage practice is that the financial side of the business can’t be ignored for long. A professional charges for their services, whereas an amateur or hobbyist doesn’t.

In this post I’ve written about possible causes of this guilt, and listed 19 strategies that can help you overcome difficulties you may have with charging clients.

So where does this guilt come from?

We are programmed from an early age

Our beliefs about money are deeply rooted, and have been planted in us from an early age. Our parents often shape our fundamental beliefs about money. These beliefs usually persist into adulthood.

We’ve all heard people talk about those evil and selfish rich people. I remember hearing things like:

“Money is the root of all evil.”

“It’s selfish to want more money.”

“You can’t trust people with money.”

“Money doesn’t solve all your problems.”

And of course, “Mo money mo problems”, (by the Notorious B.I.G.)

These are false beliefs about money. Many people tell themselves these myths as excuses for not accomplishing what they set out for. It is a way to let themselves off the hook for not being disciplined with their ambitions.

If we do have certain beliefs about money, we tend to assume that others share our beliefs. So if someone believes that wanting to get paid is selfish and is a sign of not caring about others, then she certainly don’t want others to think of her in the same way.

The truth is, rich people don’t have a patent on being obnoxious. People with all size bank accounts can be caring or uncaring, giving or selfish. Money is a tool that amplifies our intention.

The term ‘filthy rich’ further ingrains the notion that money is dirty. In the US, money is a taboo subject that is not discussed in polite company. But everyone who lives in modern society has bills to pay.

Some people can’t afford massage therapy, or a professional haircut, a nice dinner at the Bonefish Grille, or a new car. Some capable people just aren’t motivated or self disciplined enough to want to raise their standard of living. That’s the world we live in.

Self-limiting beliefs can make it challenging to run a massage practice

Self-limiting beliefs hold us back from our true potential. These tenacious beliefs work on an emotional level and can be difficult to overcome. They can present as some form of self-sabotage, procrastination, or low self-esteem. Self-esteem is a person’s overall sense of personal value or self-worth.

The most common commodity in this country is unrealized potential.

Calvin Coolidge

We are most comfortable when we are operating within our own beliefs. But if we are holding onto self-limiting beliefs, we get confined to a small comfort zone, and there is no room to grow.

That’s why it is so important to get out of your comfort zone. Testing your previous limits often reveals that they were just illusions.

Not guilty about charging clients

Some people believe that they don’t deserve much money. They view themselves as deserving a certain amount; within a certain range. And earning below, or above, that range increases feelings of discomfort. Like a thermostat, we try to keep our earnings within a certain range, and we get uncomfortable if we earn too little or too much.

So ask yourself: is it the earning money or the charging clients that makes you feel uncomfortable?

A new massage therapist may feel uncomfortable making so much per hour because they have never make that much per hour before.

One effective way to overcome all this is to join or form a “success group”. This is basically a group that shares similar ambitions and who will encourage and support each other in their personal development process. The expectations of a peer group alone can be enough to challenge you to break through old mental barriers.

We tend to maintain a success level consistent with our peer group, if we care about their opinion. If they maintain a certain financial level, outlook, social status, or other attitudes or behaviors, then you will most likely be comfortable conforming to that level too.

3 Common Faulty Beliefs

1. “I’m a fraud and not good enough to charge much for my services.”

Service providers often feel like they are not qualified. The value of your services to a client depends on how much they perceive the value to be. If they perceive it is valuable enough then they will hire you.

2. “For me to make money, it will take away from other people.”

They believe money is a zero-sum game. Some people believe that if they make money it will hurt other people. When you buy a house, does it make someone else homeless? Maybe you think charging your customer will hurt your relationship with them. But these people aren’t your friends; they are your customers. And you are giving them something valuable in return for their payment.

3. “It’s unethical / unspiritual to ask to be paid for what I do.”

If only my landlord, grocery store, dentist, gas station, utilities companies, insurance companies, universities, IRS, and every other company shared that belief. What an interesting world that would be. But the bills keep coming. And people deserve their earned wages. Go ask another service professional for a free hour of work and see how that goes. There’s a difference between charity and letting yourself be taken advantage of. Consider how you feel when people take advantage of you. Doesn’t this usually result in resentment? Over time these feelings add up and will negatively impact your work and life.

Try this self-test by filling in the blank. Answer as quickly as possible.

  1. Charging my clients makes me feel ______________.
  2. When I charge my clients, they view me as _______________.
  3. To me, money means ____________.

Hopefully this quick exercise can reveal potential self-limiting beliefs you may have about charging your clients.

The greatest waste in the world is the difference between what we are and what we could become.

Ben Herbster

19 strategies to overcome difficulty in charging for your work

If you are having trouble charging the usual rates for your part of the country, take a look at these strategies and pick a few to start using. My hope is that at least some of these will help you feel comfortable charging a fair rate that will help you grow a successful practice.

  1. Look into what your competition is charging. Staying within that range should put your mind at ease. Look at what some of the hoity-toity spas charge and you’ll actually feel good about your rates.
  2. Do you really believe that what you do has value? If you don’t value your own work, how can you expect anyone else too? If you don’t see yourself as worth $60/hour, then charging that much will be difficult. Remind yourself of all the benefits that you bring to your clients’ lives.
  3. Remember that there will always be people who balk when they hear the price of something. Even if it is a fair and customary price. They do this out of habit. Don’t cave in and lower your prices. That makes your pricing seem arbitrary. If someone doesn’t appreciate the value in what you offer, they aren’t part of your target market.
  4. Replace faulty old beliefs with a new, positive belief that is in line with your other current beliefs. One way to do this is to develop a mantra such as, “This person values the amazing experience that I provide for him/her.” Say this to yourself every time a client pays you.
  5. Think about it like this: your caring is free, but your time, effort and expertise aren’t.
  6. Go get a massage at an expensive spa. Can you provide as good of service as them? Of course you can.
  7. Take a minute to remember all the other behind the scenes work that it took you to get to this point. All the hours of work you did where you received no compensation. Also remember all the unpaid hours you still work marketing your practice to get clients in the door. You have invested a lot of time, energy and money in school, and you learned useful skills that help people. You deserve to get paid for your work.
  8. Think of a time when someone has done a lot for you and wouldn’t allow you to return the favor. Do you remember how you might have felt some anxiety build up from the unbalanced relationship? This is what you do to clients when you don’t allow them to pay you a fair price.
    balanced client relationship
  9. Customers ‘vote’ with their dollars. When you do a job worthy of their vote, they will come back again and again.
  10. Consider the dollars that people pay you as ‘certificates of appreciation’.
  11. Discuss your rates ahead of time and. This should put you at ease because you know that your client is comfortable paying that price for your service.
  12. Always over-deliver. Do more than what you’re paid for. This could mean going a couple of minutes over, providing the best massage and experience possible, creating a more pleasant office space, become more knowledgeable and skilled, or other ways to add value to the customer.
  13. Spending an hour with a client means that you are spending an hour of your life. The key word here is spending. Your time is the most valuable, irreplaceable thing you have. You time is your life, and it isn’t That’s why we refer to using time as spending time.
  14. Respect your clients’ right to spend their money as they see fit. Most therapists work with adult clients, who are responsible for how they spend their money. Clients that come in to see you want and need your services. They are expecting to pay you in return. People validate the value you are bringing to them by paying for your services.
  15. Just because something is easy for you, doesn’t mean you should charge less. A gifted painter can paint a masterpiece in about the same time as I could paint a picture worth maybe $1.00. Give your clients some credit and allow them to judge for themselves how much your services are worth to them.
  16. What would you do with a higher income? Making more money will give you the resources to help people when you find a cause you believe in. It may be that you want to be able to afford to volunteer some time each week to provide massage therapy to people in need who are physically or mentally unable to earn money to pay for it. Or you may want to do some other charitable work that has nothing to do with massage. Running a lucrative practice puts you in a position where you can afford to give more. One who has nothing can give nothing. You can’t feed someone from an empty plate. Instead, become a person of means with a good heart. Then have a big impact.
  17. By requiring appropriate rates for your work, you are ensuring your own financial security. You are taking responsible action so that you will not be dependent or a burden on anyone else. Increased income is just a sign you’re doing things right. Money that you earn and save up is a testament of your own discipline to work intelligently and diligently.
  18. Consider how undervaluing your services and pricing them too low will affect other massage therapists in your community. If half of the therapists charge $30 for a 1-hour massage for example, then this will begin to undermine the clients’ perceptions of what a skilled massage from a trained professional is worth.
  19. People value what they pay for. We don’t place much value on things that are cheap or free. When clients pay for something that benefits their physical, mental or spiritual health, they value it more.
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