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Tom: ‘I just wanted to build a buffer in December, but then we had to close’

You might know barber Tom Deux (31) from the documentary series ‘In Tom’s chair’. It shows how Tom invites the homeless to his hairdresser’s chair for a haircut and a good conversation. It was a long-cherished dream of the native social worker to combine social work with his hairdressing profession. And this one came out when a documentary maker, composer and editor all sat in his chair with Tom.

Tom’s chair had been empty lately. No cutting, no trimming, no warm towels, no in-depth conversations, nothing. You don’t get them more authentic than Tom’s barber chair, in a wharf cellar in the center of Utrecht. But it does come with a hefty price tag. “This location and the property come at a cost. And I’m talking about it. Two and a half years ago I stopped at another barber and this was the fastest and best option that came my way.”

In the first half of those two and a half years, Tom was doing well. Every day there were about 8 to 10 men in his chair, and he can now count most of them among his regular customers. “It went without a hitch. 80 to 90 percent are regular customers and I was often so busy that I had to say ‘no’ to new customers.” He also noticed this in his wallet: at that time he earned ‘just above average’. That was good earnings, but not a lot of money because the rent for his chair still had to be removed.

But what about it, because Tom did what he likes to do most. “My work is really a very big and important part of my life. I no longer did snow and skateboarding for fear of falling on my wrists. Because then it was finished. I didn’t want to take that risk. I never expected that there would come a point when someone on the outside would say, ‘You can’t do your job anymore.’ “

But unfortunately that moment did come. In mid-March 2020, hairdressers and other so-called contact professions were no longer allowed to practice their profession. “That was very unreal. Until then I was still funny about it and the virus was mainly very far away. That attitude changed when I met an acquaintance at the cafe where I went to get coffee every morning. He didn’t want to shake my hand anymore. I thought that was very strange at the time. As if I already had the virus among the members. Now this is a rule instead of an exception. Bizarre. “

Shortly after the first lockdown went into effect, Tom moved in with his girlfriend, in a nice but small apartment in the center of Utrecht. He tried to make the best of it: at least now he had time to paint things properly. “Living together was new and exciting. The weather was nice and the days got longer and longer, and we could sit by the canal.”

Three times rent

Financially, the first lockdown was an immediate blow. Tom’s girlfriend, who works in the hospitality industry, immediately lost her income. Still, they had to pay three times the rent for the new rented house – one month for living and two months’ deposit. Fortunately, with the one-off financial aid of 4000 euros (the Entrepreneurs Affected Sectors Allowance (TOGS), ed.) From the government, Tom and his girlfriend were able to ‘take care of a few things’.

When Tom was able to receive clients in his barber chair again from 11 May, he was of course relieved. His chair was immediately fully booked again and Tom picked up the thread again – with some corona adjustments.

“Naive maybe,” he says now. “But I had not foreseen that second lockdown in December. I really thought: ‘They will keep it going until after the holidays and then we can lock it again in January.’ retail – normally extremely good and in January everything is quiet, so economically this is a disaster. I couldn’t believe it when we had to close anyway. “

Do not build up reserves

“I really had my focus point on January. I wanted to work hard in December, have a lot of customers in my chair, to have a buffer for January. But because the lockdown was a fact earlier, I could not build up reserves” , says Tom.

In addition, Tom got corona himself, which meant that he went into quarantine alone during the holidays. And yes, he knows how he got the virus: when the lockdown went into effect, he met friends, one of whom said he was going to be a father. “For a moment I let go of the corona rules and gave him a hug. A day later I heard from him that his girlfriend had corona. So when I got the first symptoms, I thought, ‘Yep, here we go’.”

There he was: alone at Christmas, tired and trembling from corona and no prospect of work for the time being. “Then I was completely exhausted. All the stress of the past year seemed to come out then and nothing came out of my fingers. I was quite depressed. My work gives me a goal to get out of my morning full of energy. to get into bed. That was gone now. “

Relationship problems to peak

Meanwhile, Tom’s relationship was starting to ‘crack’ considerably. After he got out of quarantine, he slept with friends again and then again on the couch with his parents. Three weeks ago, the two ended their relationship. “Due to the corona crisis, our problems reached a peak earlier. Everything has accelerated.”

Because Tom and his ex-girlfriend had signed a lease for at least a year, the barber now still pays half of his old rent and his new rent for the student room where he now lives, together about 1500 euros. When he was still living together, he was cut back on his TOZO (Temporary bridging scheme for independent entrepreneurs, ed.). Now that he has registered, he can look forward to a less discounted benefit. He also receives (financial) help from his parents.

Because very little money comes in, Tom lives frugally. But he doesn’t find that difficult. “In the past I always spent a lot of money on concerts, festivals, drinks in the pub. But that is no longer possible anyway. The only thing: I am quite a Burgundian. I like special cheeses, natural wine, you name it. I did cut back on it: I switched to Aldi wine, haha. “

Save and buy moments

Since the press conference of Rutte and De Jonge, where it was announced that the hairdressers can go back to work, Tom’s phone has been ringing off the hook. “I am completely bombarded. Going back to work is good for my rhythm in any case. I was just as far away from society, went to bed at 2 am. That has to change now.”

And it is good for his wallet. “I’m going to save and build up a buffer and be the first to pay back my parents. If I did that, then I will save for holidays. I’m going to buy moments, I need that now.”

This says the expert

Frederieke Kokol, heads the helpdesk of the telephone number for money concerns 0800-8115:

“Tom is a self-employed person who recently started his own business as a barber and as a result has been able to build up few financial reserves. The corona crisis forced him to close his company for a longer period of time. He has claimed a few schemes from the government, namely the TOGS and the TOZO. He also borrowed money from his parents to bridge the second lockdown. Tom does not employ any staff that he had to continue to pay, which makes a difference.

Expenditure under the microscope

But the rent of his chair and the rent of his former home with his ex-girlfriend have yet to be paid. As well as the rent of the student room where he now lives alone. That is tough, but it works. Tom has already taken good steps himself by scrutinizing his expenses and cutting back. Perhaps he could take even further steps in this, there are many websites and apps that can help people to gain insight into their income and expenditure patterns.

Tom can still check whether he is eligible for the TVL scheme, the fixed costs allowance due to the rent of his business premises, but also for other business obligations such as paying the electricity bill, gas, water and insurance that must continue to be paid. The TONK scheme, support necessary costs, may also be a scheme that could apply to Tom. Self-employed persons such as Tom, can obtain more information about this via the Chamber of Commerce Coronaloket. We often refer self-employed persons to this from 0800-8115. “

Have your finances been affected – in a negative or positive sense – by the corona crisis? And would you like to tell how you organize your life differently? Then mail to weekendmagazine@rtl.nl

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