Budgeting tips when you have a limited and unstable income

There are three steps to budgeting when you have an unstable income. These are the following:

  1. Know what your basic needs cost
  2. Know when you are next getting paid
  3. Make sure you have that amount of money until you get paid next

If you want to simplify the steps and make it even easier, then you can add a few additional steps.

  1. Define what your basic financial needs are
  2. Define how much they cost
  3. Know when they occur
  4. Make sure you have the money for when they occur
  5. Make sure you have enough money for your basic financial needs until the next time you have income coming in

The number one thing that you need to do when your income is unstable is to have an exact picture of what your basic needs are and what they cost.

When I say basic I mean the absolute necessities.

These are:





Medical expenses

Minimum payments for loans and credit cards


The second thing you need to know is when your basic expenses occur.

Minimum payments for loans and credit cards usually occur monthly and at the end of the month. Usually the same applies for housing and bills. A health insurance perhaps can be paid monthly or you could make an arrangement for payment to be made every three or six months. It all depends on the company you are insured with.

Food and transport could be paid on a daily or on an as they come basis.

Make sure you have enough money aside to pay for your financial needs when these come. Adjust the frequency of your budgeting on weekly, biweekly or monthly budgets. It all depends on your circumstances and personal goals.

As long as you have enough money aside for your financial needs until the next time you get paid you’ll always be alright. Here of course you might say, “I don’t know when I’m next getting paid Maria”.

If this is the case, that’s perfectly fine. You might be a freelancer. You might be unemployed and have no income support whatsoever. What you can do in this situation is calculate the amount of money you need for your needs and see how far your existing money can take you.

The one thing that you’ll always have to remember if you are on a limited and unstable income is to only spend money on your needs. Your spending habits can change once your income has become of greater frequency and substance. Until then be careful, aware and above all else ambitious!

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