Why can’t I justify my rates?

This week's question from my portal “The Neagle Code: Directions for Life” comes from Brandi T.

Neagle Code Question

Hi David,

I am a massage therapist and have a lot of guilt around asking for what I really want to charge clients. I was raised with the paradigm of: It is wrong to charge a man who is dying of thirst $100 for a glass of water and wrong to deny a starving man food (particularly if I have more than enough), so I’m having a hard time justifying selling a service that people of all income levels need, but which most people truly cannot afford. I know I’m not thinking about this accurately, but I’m still stuck in it. HELP!

Neagle Code Answer

Hi Brandi!

I know a lot of coaches and business consultants who struggle with this same concept.

First of all, I don’t quite think your comparison makes a whole lot of sense. Charging a dying man $100.00 for a glass of water doesn’t really compare with charging your fees.

Here’s the deal…it’s not your responsibility to save the world. If it were, you’d be the only massage therapist in the world.

The truth is that you’re looking at this all wrong.

The LAW states that if someone has a strong enough desire for something, the money MUST be there. What you’re talking about is no different.

And your responsibility is to yourself only (and any dependent children, of course).

Here’s how I suggest you look at your fees.

Your fees MUST be set on your personal financial goals AND the value of the service that you offer. The value of what you offer must exceed the fees that you’re charging.

The people who have the ability or willingness to pay you, WILL. And those that do not will find someone else to help them.

It’s a win-win situation. You get to work with the people who you really enjoy working with, and people who aren’t willing to pay your fees will pay someone else to work with them.

More life to all.



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  1. David, I think your answer lacks compassion. Some people are just not able to pay due to their circumstances. Brandi sounds truly conflicted. Here’s how I solve that problem. I set my charges comparable to those who are doing similar work, but then I volunteer twice a month at a free clinic where the really poor can have my services for whatever money they can put in the jar. The clinic has massage therapists, acupuncturists, energy workers, etc. The money goes to the clinic so we can continue. So, I have both paying clients and serve the poor. If there is no situation like this where Brandi lives, perhaps she could get together with some other practitioners and start one.

    • With all due respect Beverly, there is nothing about my response to Brandi that lacks compassion. It all comes down to charging what you are worth. As I said in my response, if someone has a strong enough desire for something, the money MUST be there. Period. The problem is that many people are mired in entitlement and by forgiving those fees we only enable them to continue doing it over and over again. What you do is admirable and I commend you for it, but that is certainly not for everyone. There is no shame or guilt in charging what you want based on your financial goals and nor should there be. Thanks for the post.