Financial management is a tool everyone needs, especially if they are predisposed to an irregular income. If you are into freelancing or are self-employed and are looking for workable budgeting tools, consider these options.
Top Expert Tools for Budgeting for Irregular Income
Financial experts recommend these top tips for anyone looking to have a better relationship with their finances, especially if they have an irregular income.
1. Track Your Income
Unlike people with a regular income who can predict how much money they can rake in in a month, having an inconsistent income is a different ball game. Therefore, the rules of budgeting call for a slightly different approach.
Tracking your income is fundamental in estimating your budgeting funds. It is vital to have an estimated average value of how much you make a month. The figure obtained will form the basis for your next budget. There are official guides used by government programs like SNAP that you can follow to calculate your average income.
2. Create a Skeleton of a Budget
The fundamental terms often used in budgeting include expenditure and income. Expenditure is a summation of all your expenses, categorized as fixed and variable costs.
Fixed expenses include transportation costs, rent, utilities, debt payments, and groceries. Variable expenses entail those whose value changes, including medical costs, fine dining, and money spent on miscellaneous purchases like online essay writing service providers and the latest models of devices.
This skeleton of a budget allows you to key in how much you spend. It also enables you to keep your expenses as lean as possible.
3. A Rolling Average
Since your income is inconsistent, it is essential to be ahead of your finances by crafting a rolling average of your income over the past months. Use this figure to estimate your monthly payment. This figure will play a fundamental role in your budget.
4. Prioritize Expenses
Take time to go over your expenses and track every coin. You will be surprised by the funds spent on things that do not matter.
At the same time, nurture the habit of prioritizing your expenses. For instance, taking care of fixed expenses is more prudent, especially when the available funds are limited. If you're not sure what we mean by “fixed expenses”, check out this article.
5. An Emergency Fund
The pandemic exposed the loopholes in people's relationships with their finances. Being in a setting that predisposes you to uncertainties about the future cements the importance of having an emergency fund.
Most financial experts advise anyone to have at least three months' essential expenses in their emergency fund. However, in your case, work towards having at least six months‘ worth of expenses.
An emergency fund gives you the peace to keep pushing with your freelance endeavors. It also gives you the buffer needed during lean months.
6. Flexible Spending
Having an inconsistent income does not mean you should be frugal. Instead, it prompts you to nurture the habit of being flexible with your spending. For instance, have a spending category you can adjust based on how much money you rake in to determine how much to allocate an essay writer for hire or to other unplanned expenses like fine dining.
7. A Buffer Account
An inconsistent income shapes your relationship with money, especially when you do not have it. At first, you might not get it right and eat into your savings, so do not fret when in this position.
However, adopting the idea of working with a buffer account is essential. Have a separate savings account and commit yourself to deposit a set amount and the surplus in a buffer account to help smooth things out on the low-earning months. The buffer account will reinforce a healthy relationship with your savings account.
8. Realistic Goals
Any talk about budgeting is incomplete if the concept of setting financial goals is not discussed. Therefore, taking a detour to explore it is vital.
SMART financial goal setting is a term you will often encounter. It is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals. This is what goes into the SMART criteria of goal setting:
When setting your financial goals, short-term or long-term, ensure to define them clearly. Have clearly outlined objectives. Take enough time to decipher and understand your goal's why, what, and how.
Financial goal-setting entails keeping tabs on how measurable your goal is. A measurable goal should allow you to track it and establish how far along you are from attaining it. It also entails asking questions about targets and the yardsticks you will use to measure your progress, for instance, time.
The ease of attaining a financial goal is another crucial determinant. Work towards setting a realistic goal by being honest with yourself.
The relevance of your goal also plays a significant role in determining its viability. Ensure that the purpose aligns with your life plans and financial health. For instance, it is prudent to save for a house if you intend to own property in the future.
Set aside a given timeframe for the goals, short-term or long-term. Giving yourself timelines helps you stay focused on the goal. It also helps cultivate discipline throughout the process. However, when setting timelines, be realistic, especially since your income is inconsistent.
SMART financial goal-setting is fundamental for anyone interested in acing their financial journey. These factors help keep you on track and nurture financial discipline. The best part is the model applies to all economic settings.
9. Regular Review
Establishing budgeting tools for an inconsistent income is one thing. However, with the ever-changing financial climate and environment, ensuring the tools work for your given situation is essential. Therefore, reviewing the tools and adjusting them regularly is prudent.
At the same time, changes in your income levels call for you to tweak your budget constantly. For instance, consider increasing the amount allocated to savings if you notice a steady increase in your income and vice versa.
10. Professional Advice
If you struggle to develop your budget or your income fluctuates significantly, consider contacting a professional like an accountant. They should help you curate a workable financial plan.
Budgeting with an irregular income requires an added level of responsibility. You want to avoid being caught up with bills after splurging, especially if you are unsure about your next payment.