As a gig worker, freelancer, or independent worker, you don’t always know exactly how much money you will earn each month. Maybe you’ll do more jobs than last month or maybe you’ll do fewer. One way to reduce financial stress with irregular income is to make a budget and stick to it. Here are three tips for budgeting with inconsistent income.
1. Start with fixed expenses
You have certain expenses each month that you know you need to pay: housing (like rent or mortgage), car payment, loans, cell phone, and insurance. If you’re not sure what these are, take a look at the last few months of your bank account and write down any expenses that come up each month.
2. Set limits for spending in other categories
Once you know how much you spend in fixed expenses, make a list of the other expenses you have and set spending limits based on your income. For example, you may give yourself a limit of $200 for groceries, $100 for eating out, $50 for streaming services and TV, etc. Don’t forget to put some money aside for taxes. You should save enough of each paycheck you receive to cover federal and state taxes. Sound complicated? indi’s Tax Savings Goal feature can calculate this amount for you and autosave a portion of each payment so you don’t even have to think about it.1 You can learn more about Estimated Quarterly Tax Payments and how indi can help prepare for them by checking out our post where we discuss this in depth.
Blog Post: What are Quarterly Estimated Taxes?
If your expenses are greater than your income, you’ll need to find ways to either make more money, cut costs, or a little of both. Can you pick up more hours? Drive more jobs? Do you need five streaming services or can you live with three? Can you downgrade your cell phone plan or home internet plan? Get creative with ideas to cut costs so you don’t end up in hot water on slower income months.
3. Try not to spend every single dollar you earn each month
It’s inevitable that you’ll have a few slow months during the year and unexpected expenses are bound to come up. To ensure you have enough money to cover expenses during these instances, give yourself a buffer by not spending every dollar you earn. Try to leave yourself enough money so that you could cover an unexpected car repair or an unusually high electricity bill. This is a great way to start building an emergency fund.
Using these three tips for budgeting with inconsistent income will give you peace of mind and a solid foundation to build other financial habits. Bank smarter with the indi mobile banking app. Learn more at goindi.com.
1. indi’s Tax Savings Goal feature is not a substitute for individual tax planning or for legal, financial, or tax advice. This feature is intended only as a tool to provide a basic sense of your potential tax savings needs. Because indi will not know everything about your finances or your personal situation, your Tax Savings Goal may be more or less than your actual tax liability. The Tax Savings Goal does not account for local taxes. Using funds designated as Tax Savings for other spending may leave too little money to pay your taxes.