Bar graph income with a question mark

Are you one of the millions of Americans that live on an irregular income?  Maybe you own your own business, your job is seasonal, or you work on commission.  If this is you, the thought of paying bills and sticking to a budget can be overwhelming.  Don’t let all the “what ifs” keep you from succeeding with money, paying off debt, and living your best financial life!

Thankfully, it is possible to budget well while living on an irregular income!  It may look a bit different from those that have a fixed income, but it can be done!  Follow these simple steps to make your budget while on an irregular income.

Determine Your Absolute Lowest Income

Before you start your budget, look back at your monthly income over the past year.  What was the absolute lowest amount you made?  How much did you make this month last year?  If your job is seasonal then you should be able to look back at what you made this time last year and predict your income pretty accurately.  Once you determine your lowest possible income, use that as your base and build your budget from that income level.

List Out Your Bills

When you have an irregular income, it’s wise to start with a Bare Bones Budget.  This type of budget cuts out any extra spending and focuses on what you need to get by.  To learn how to write a Bare Bones Budget in detail, click HERE.  After you have determined your lowest possible income, list out your bills and their due dates in priority order.  Pay the most important bill first and move down the list from there.  You’ll want to pay your shelter, electricity, water, and food first.  All credit cards and debts can be paid with any money left over.

When You Have Leftover Money

Hopefully, you will have money left over after you have paid your most important bills.  If it’s a good month and you made more than you expected, you have options on what to do with your extra money.  First and foremost, pay the minimum payment on your debts.  If there is any money after you make your debt payments, consider sending some of your money to savings.  Because you have an irregular income, it’s important to have a decent savings account in case you don’t make as much money as you hope.  I’d set aside at least 3 months of living expenses in savings.  Try to beef up your savings as soon as possible.  To read more about saving money, read my post on Emergency Funds and How To Save 1,000 Fast. Since it’s important to prioritize savings when you have an irregular income, check out the best savings account rates below!

When You Don’t Have Enough Money

Hopefully, you’ll have enough money to cover all your expenses, but sometimes that is just not the case.  If you are short on money for the month, then you have a few options.  First, you can always take money out of your savings if you have one set up.  If you don’t have enough in savings to get by, then it’s time to cut back on your budget as much as possible. What expenses can you get rid of?  What can you sell?  What side hustle can you take on?  You’ll need to find a way to find the extra money you need!  Check out my posts on 11 Ways To Earn Extra Money and 8 Things To Cut From Your Budget to help increase the money in your bank account!

If you have been short on your income for several months in a row, it’s time to start looking for patterns in your earnings.  Why are you making less than you normally do?  Is there something that you are doing differently?  What is the root of the issue and how can you fix it?

Don’t let an irregular income keep you from budgeting and being in control of your money!