How To Budget With An Irregular Income

Most money-management systems presuppose a steady paycheck, but No Credit Needed shows how you can track your dollars even if you aren’t sure of when they’ll arrive.

  • Write a prioritized list of expenditures
  • Set a budget for each item
  • When you get money, put it in your checking account
  • Pay down the list from bottom to top
  • Leave some in checking for unexpected expenses, and withdraw some for day to day petty cash
  • Transfer leftover money to savings
  • In tighter months, focus on necessities and must-pay bills and withdraw from savings as needed

“Eventually, you will be able to build up enough money in your savings and you will not have to worry about when you receive income,” writes No Credit Needed. “Instead of making deposits into your checking account and using that money for current expenses, you will make a deposit into your savings account and wait for the bills to arrive. You will be a month (or more) ahead, prepared for the bills that are coming.”

With discipline, this is an excellent system and easily implemented. No artist need ever again survive on paint chips alone.

How To Create A Budget If You Have Irregular Income [No Credit Needed]
(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. lilmiscantberong says:

    This post should be mandatory reading for every waiter and barista who whines constantly about not getting enought tips!

    Don’t rely on consumers to provide you with enough tips to compensate the difference in your paycheck, then complain when you aren’t tipped enough.

    Yes, I am still sick and tired of listening to self-entitled people take less than minimum wage jobs and then complain when they just can’t make ends meet because society is not doing their part by giving them what they deserve for bringing them their *gasp* food!

  2. Robert Synnott says:

    Where someone is working at a less-than-minimum wage job where the social expectation is that they will be tipped to make up for it, they probably do have some right to complain…

  3. ahwannabe says:

    oh god not this again.

  4. modenastradale says:

    Yeah, this tipping thing has been well explored already, so let’s put it to rest.

    Servers: Expect 15-17% for a good job, and substantially less for a bad job. Cheapskates: Pay 15-17% for good service, 20% for excellent service, and 0-10% for poor service, depending on just how awful it was.

  5. killavanilla says:

    Dude, shut up.
    I am in sales for a fortune 500 company and this article is just as applicable to my situation, if not more than a waiters.
    Next time you feel like jumping up on a soapbox, feel free to do it in your basement instead of here. I don’t care what you object to. I am not interested in your feelings about waiters. Nothing you said needed to be said past “This post should be mandatory reading for every waiter and barista” Next time, add a period and submit the damn comment.
    The rest is not only completely unrelated to anything, including the price of tea in China, but boring, pedantic, childish, and silly.
    Why you think the rest of the internet universe is even mildly interested in what upsets you about waiters is truly a mystery to anyone who will happen upon it.
    You’ve just put it out there, in plain english:
    “Look at me”, you say proudly, “I have an angry opinion about something vaguely intriguing, sure to start a flame war, and wholly unrelated to the subject matter that inspired me to post in the first place.”
    Some of us will simply point and laugh. Others will get all riled up and ‘fight you’ like tough guys. Even more will side with you because they too have strong opinions that don’t matter and are irrelevant. Me? I’ve chosen to join the other group. The smartasses who struggle to insert some light humor.
    Can we all just get along?
    Really. In the last two months I’ve witnessed at least three stupid arguments on waiters, their jobs, their compensation, and blah blah blah blah blah.
    Hell, I’ve been right in the middle.
    But this post is unique, in that it came out of nowhere. Which, in a way, makes you a true innovator. You took an excellent piece containing money management tips for people who make irregular paychecks and turned it into a bold, strong attack on waiters, their attitudes, and the rest.
    Good for you.
    Here’s a few occupations to whom this sort of article applies:
    Inside salesperson
    Outside salesperson
    Real estate salesperson
    Real estate broker
    Real estate appraiser
    Computer consultant
    Computer programmer
    Computer repair shop owner/operator
    Freelance journalist
    Private practice attorney
    Private practice Doctor
    Private practice Dentist
    Make up artist
    Web designer
    Project manager
    Private investor
    Restaurant owner
    You read this article, and immediately went on in a tizzy over waiters.
    We got it.

  6. spinachdip says:

    @killavanilla: Couldn’t you have just called lilmiscantberong an idiot and left it at that? Brevity, she is the soul of wit and readability.

    Anyway, I kinda wish Consumerist and other accessible advice-y sites were around when I was getting into the freelance game.

    For a freelancer, the dry spells are as painful as paydays are great (my day rates, even right out of school, were obscene compared to an equivalent 9-to-5 pay), so something like this would’ve been nice when I was young and stupid.

  7. killavanilla says:

    Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda.
    It’s more fun to point out how stupid his post was than it is to call him a name.

  8. zolielo says:

    I would give the tip of building spreadsheets of expenditures over 5 or more months then generating graphs (time series) to see if there is a pattern. Many people have fix and variable costs that can be mapped well. Basically, costs can be predictable. A safety stock (reserve) can be calculated. Using the two one can solve their budget qualms.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m a paralegal at a bankruptcy firm; this is actually pretty similar to how we figure out budgets for clients with irregular income. If your average monthly income is theoretically enough to live on, then saving in the fat times and using savings during your lean times is your friend.