The best way to budget when you work for yourself
Creating a budget isn’t easy. Neither is sticking to one. It can be especially challenging when you’re a 1099 worker, and income is inconsistent. There’s nothing worse than preparing to pay quarterly taxes and finding out you don’t have enough money set aside to make the payment. It also sucks to look back on your income for the last several months and wonder where it all went. Don’t worry though, you are definitely not alone. So many people who work for themselves encounter this situation. So do those who get a regular paycheck. That’s why we went looking for no-nonsense tips and advice to help get you on the road to budgeting and financial success.
The zero-sum budget ~
First, we love this breakdown from thesimpledollar.com on how to use the zero-sum budget strategy. It’s brilliant, no matter what kind of paycheck you make. This budget focuses on spending every last dollar of income. Each dollar needs a “job.” We also found a helpful explanation of the zero-sum budget method on magnifymoney.com. Read about the benefit of finally knowing where all your money goes, along with the downside of needing a lot of discipline to use the approach.
After you learn how to put a zero-sum budget to work for you, take it a step further. Read up on ideas from thesimpledollar.com on how to budget when you have irregular income.
Other tips to make budgeting easier ~
- If you have multiple cards, work with credit card companies to change your due dates so they all fall on the same date each month. Ask for a date that’s easy to remember and tracks with your source of income — whether you’re a 1099 worker that sends out invoices once a month or a permanent employee that gets paid twice a month. A date close to your pay date ensures that you won’t overspend on other items before your bills are due each month.
- If you lack the discipline to consistently track your budget items, then use a debit card for all expenditures (be sure to keep an eye on the balance as you go). Keep cash only for the small items that you know you pay for that way — things like coffee, the vending machine at the office, tipping at your hair salon, etc. When you receive your monthly account statement, sit down and record expenses in their appropriate categories based on what’s reflected on the statement. Be sure to add in those small cash purchases we mentioned above.
- For budgeting variable expenses, use the worst-case scenario or upper limit. This could apply to utility bills depending on how seasonal your local climate is. Groceries might be another item that fluctuates according to when your college-aged son comes home for a visit. Budget for the high end of the range so you’re prepared. When you find you have remaining dollars at the end of the month, reassign them to a debt-paying or savings “job” before they get spent unintentionally.
It pays to learn how to get out of debt and successfully save when you work for yourself. The key to success though, is finding and implementing the tips that resonate most with you — the ones you know you’ll stick with.
Beyond creating a budget, sometimes you need a boost to help you get on track for financial strength. That’s where LendingPoint comes in. With affordable, consistent monthly payments designed to fit your budget, one of our loans can be just what you need to pay off bills and get ahead. Apply now to see what you qualify for — it’s quick, easy and doesn’t affect your credit. Now that’s what we call smart debt consolidation.