As soon as the colleges get out in early May, my interpreting work would come to a screeching halt, the dust billowing around my blank calendar.
A 180’ from April where if I wanted, I could work 7 days a week 12-15 hours a day, depositing checks with 4 digits.
Two weeks later a few jobs would would trickle in.
Myths of an irregular income
“I can’t pay off debt… Or save. Can’t make plans because I don’t know if I’ll have the money. It’s impossible to budget on an irregular income and there’s no way to get ahead in life.”
Emails like this one hit my inbox all the time.
11 years ago, when I first got married as the sole provider, I earned $38,380.
Not sure how to manage my irregular income and how we were going to be able to pay off debt and pay for my husband’s school.
But “I can’t do it” never entered my mind, instead I worked to provide food on the table and keep the lights on. If that’s not motivation to make it work, I’m not sure what is
Are you falling for these 6 myths about your irregular income? Don’t suffer from the worry of an irregular income any longer.
Myth 1: You can’t budget on an irregular income
If it’s 2 weeks, 4 weeks, or 8 weeks before you get paid and when the check’s $357, then $1,202, it can seem impossible to budget.
I’d put off my budget until the pile of crumpled receipts took over my desk and spilled onto the floor, then spent 9 hours on a Saturday, to make sense of the numbers.
Tried different methods to budget which all felt like I had to balance on my left toes, facing the slightly northeast at 2:27am, with my tongue touching my nose to work.
For 4 years.
Wait a minute, if I’m worried there’s not enough money for groceries the last week of the month, or if I need to rearrange the funds in my account to pay rent on the 1st...Why don’t I move them to the top of my budget and set money aside for them first like Dave Ramsey always said on air.
A simple switch-a-roo dumped of a ton of stress.
My four essentials of food, lights/water, housing and transportation are funded first. Everything else is listed in order of priority of what’s next to be paid.
If I have enough money for one more thing, what’s the highest priority to be paid next.
I asked this question for every expense. All the way down the page, so all your expenses and other uses for money have been assigned a dollar amount and a priority.
The dread and sense of failure I had with my budget all vanished when I started using a prioritized budget, the single most effective way to budget in general and by far super easy with an irregular income.
My budget became a powerful tool to use to reach my money goals of saving money and paying cash for my husband’s school even faster, gave me peace about my finances.
And if you’d told me 8 years ago, how giddy I’d get as the end of the month approached so I could close out my monthly budget and see the progress made on my money goals…
I’d light up anytime a friend brings up her budget and geek out to find a solution to help her overcome her money struggles and gain financial peace.
I would have looked behind me to see who you were talking to, because I didn’t have this experience.
Inside my 7 Simple Steps to Make an Easy Monthly Budget class, I walk you through all the steps to set up a prioritized budget for an irregular income, what to do when you get paid, how to stick to your budget, and even what to do if you’re behind on your bills.
Myth 2: You can’t pay off debt on an irregular income
On an irregular income?
When you get checks with numbers almost too good to be true, a breath you’ve held for the last two and a half months praying the car won’t decide to die in July, escapes.
You can do one of two things.
Splurge. Guilty and mad because you failed and now money’s even tighter.
Throw a huge chunk of money at your smallest debt.
Even with the slow summer months, when I’d cut clothes and entertainment out of my budget, negotiate lower rates on internet or car insurance. Scour the house for things to sell.
I could breathe.
The huge knot in my stomach, been there for years...went away after I became debt free.
The waves of an irregular income can be enough of a challenge.
You don’t need 11 different ways your money leaves in the form of credit card and loan payments when you have an irregular income.
Use the woo-hoo months as a big shovel to get rid of your debt as fast as possible and in the slow months, pay what you can.
Manage your irregular income with confidence Know how much money is coming in and how to budget effectively. Stabilize the income dips. Know how much to save and pay off debt. Get the Irregular Income 101 class here
Myth 3: You can’t save on an irregular income
I proved myself wrong.
For years, the numbers in my bank account would grow, to be wiped out with an unexpected expense or the need to scramble and pay for another semester.
Convinced I couldn’t save money.
Money came in and went out faster than a revolving door at fancy hotels. I’m afraid I’ll walk too slow and will get smacked on the backside.
So I tracked every dollar I put into savings for an entire year.$19,248.60 later proved yes, indeed I can save money on an irregular income.
And there’s the $79,775 of tuition payments, I squirreled away 4 months at a time until the next semester started.
So thankful for all the ways God provided money to pay cash for my husband’s school so I could watch him walk across the stage without student loans.
Savings is a life-style, not a number on a bank account. Every little bit put into savings does add up over time.
Surplus months can add a chunk of cash to your savings all at once.
Myth 4: You can’t plan anything - not sure there will be enough money
Vacations. Needed medical procedures. Retirement.
Are top of the things, readers tell me they can’t plan for because of their irregular income.
I’ve dealt with income swings and the extra money you were saving to get another vehicle has to be used for something else.
Disappointed as you transfer the money into checkings to pay the bill, your ideal timing thrown off.
Here’s the thing
You can plan for a big expense can be done regardless if you have an irregular income or not.
Like the time, my hubby and I went to Jamaica for our 10th anniversary for 12 days.
Most of our vacations had been stay-cations around Arizona for 4 days max.
Tip: I’d rather rent a vacation home from VRBO than a hotel. The hubs and I are more comfortable with the additional space, often cheaper, and it’s a way to cook and save money instead of eating out for every meal. You can find a VRBO international and when you use Ebates, you’ll get $10 back when you book VRBO.
As soon as we had decided when to take our trip and I did some research on how much airfare, accommodations, and excursions would cost, I divided down the total by how many months I had to save.
This smaller amount much easier to come up with each month than it would be to come up with the entire amount all at once.
Are there times when an unexpected expense comes up and wipes out all your savings, and even the one you’ve been stocking up for a new car?
Yes, it’s happened to me many times… my Mazda’s now at 322K miles.
Flexibility with timing…. Recognize God’s schedule is different than mine. I reframe how I had different priorities for my money instead of failing.
When a money goal gets delayed, it never means you won’t ever have enough money to save for it. Now’s not the right time.
You’ll have to re-adjust and keep saving.
Myth 5: Money Spells out S-E-C-U-R-I-T-Y.
A couple thousand in the bank is such a relief. Spells out S-E-C-U-R-I-T-Y.
Able to breathe without watching every penny.
Don’t touch it! You want to scream anytime your significant other goes to the gas station.
Even though there’s car repairs you’ve put off and loads of debt crushing the life out of you….
You grasp the money so hard now the pennies have to scream to leave.
As you hide behind the surplus of money, there’s a fear God won’t provide for what you need tomorrow.
Yet, every time I grasped those large checks with a death grip….
My stress level went through the roof
Larger than normal checks are what makes an irregular income a blessing.
Pay off a huge chunk of debt which will make the lean months less stressful. Buy the things you need. Enjoy spending money.
If God has provided for you now, He will provide for you in the future. Always will.
I use a percentage ratio for any money above what I need for my regular expenses, way easier to figure out than an actual amount.
Money to spend, give, and put towards my current goal.
You decide the percentage and where it goes.
Myth 6: You can’t get ahead on an irregular income
If you’ve read this far, you’ve seen it’s possible
pay off debt,
plan for the future with confidence,
All on an irregular income.
And if you do even one of these, you will be ahead of a lot of people in the smart money management category.
Your irregular income can be a blessing
But if you’re super smart, and change your words from “I can’t” to
I can budget
I can pay off debt
I can save money
I can plan for the future
I can crush the money fear
You will be able to get ahead of where you’re right now. Truth be told, anyone who does these 5 things are way ahead of the game. You’ll toss money struggles to the curb.
You can live the life you want… even with an irregular income. [h2]
On my irregular income, I’ve doubled how much I earn, lived debt free for 9 years and counting, saved and paid almost $80k for school in cash… and so much more.
If I can do it. You can too.
Want to handle your irregular income with confidence so you can plan for the future and still reach your money goals? Get my class Irregular Income 101 where I show you how it’s possible to get ahead on an irregular income.
Your turn… what myths have you told yourself about an irregular income?
Hi! I’m Charissa. I’m on a mission to help hardworking women overcome money struggles and gain financial peace with a Biblical perspective so they can have the freedom to impact their families and communities. Ready to make some changes that will impact your finances in 2020? Click here to get a free worksheet to help you make it happen!