How To Budget on an Irregular Income

Living life on an irregular income can be difficult, especially when you need to make a budget in order to make sure that all of your bills are paid on time and that you will be able to meet the basic cost of living.  It is possible to budget an irregular income, of course; it simply takes a little more work and a more thorough examination of your various bills and expenses so that you can prioritize them when money does come in.  The following steps should help you to prioritize your expenses so that you can set up a budget of your money, even though you don't always receive money at the same time every month.

  1. You should begin by looking at the past several months and determining your average monthly income, even though your income in some months may be higher than others.  By taking the average of these amounts, you can get a rough estimation of how much money you may have available to you in future months.

  2. Make a listing of what bills and other expenses you have in an average month, and be sure to include how much each costs (or an average of the last several months if it is a recurring bill or expense).  You should also make note of the time of the month that each of these expenses arrives.
  3. If you have a semi-regular income (meaning that you generally receive a certain number of payments or a certain amount of money each month, but not necessarily on a fully regular schedule), then make note of the time frame in which you are usually paid.  If you have a fully irregular income (meaning that you don't receive a specific amount each month or that your payments come at random times), then examine the past several months and create an average amount of money that you have had for each week.
  4. Create a chart that details how much money (on average) you have for each week of a sample month. You should then begin adding the dates that you receive your monthly bills, when each of those bills is typically due, and also when you tend to do your grocery and other shopping.

  5. Using this chart, compare the average amount of money that you have each week to how much any bills that have come in during that time are for.  Prioritize your expenses so that larger bills are paid when you have more money, and smaller expenses are taken care of afterward.  Your actual income will likely vary from what is depicted on the chart, but money that comes in on weeks when your average would be much lower can be saved or used toward expenses on the next week that has a higher average income.

Of course, as with any budget, what you create here should only be viewed as a guideline on how to spend your money so as not to fall behind on your bills and other expenses.  Don't stress yourself out if you go over your budget, especially early on... budgeting on an irregular income can take time to get used to, and may require some adjustments to your budgeting plans along the way.  If you've had problems making ends meet because of poor spending habits in the past, however, even the most rudimentary budget can help you to get back on track and keep your finances in the green.


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