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How to Budget with an Unstable Income

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Looking for how to budget on an unsteady income? Keep reading. 

If you’re living on an irregular income, budgeting can be challenging. 

However, the good news is that there are tips to help you create a budget that works for you. 

Below are some valuable tips to create a sustainable monthly plan that will keep your finances in order, no matter what happens month on month:

1. Keep your monthly expenses low

The first step to budgeting with an unstable income is to make a list of all your monthly expenses. 

This includes food, fuel, transportation, utilities (electricity and water), data and entertainment subscriptions, shopping, and other living expenses.

Consider cutting back on some of these expenses if you can’t afford them right now. 

For example, that DSTV subscription can wait for a few months until your paycheck stabilizes again.

2. Set a monthly minimum

Although you are not exactly sure what will come in each month (since it is unstable), you know something will still come in. 

Hence, you should set a minimum amount that needs to be saved before any other spending is permitted. 

With your savings app, set aside at least 20% before letting anything else leave your account each month. 

This serves as an emergency fund and ensures you always have room for unexpected expenses after paying bills.

3. Have a plan for money you don’t need immediately

Having a plan for money you don’t need immediately is key to avoiding unnecessary stress.

Set up a savings plan for when you have extra or unexpected funds; they get saved instead of being spent impulsively on things you don’t really need.

If any unnecessary financial stress comes up, you’ll always have your money waiting for you and better still with interest. 

4. Automate savings as much as possible

One of the most effective ways to save money is to automate it. 

The best way to do this is to set up an automated savings account i.e. make sure that your bank is connected for seamless transfers without having to worry about missing your regular savings payments.

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5. Create a plan that will work for you

There’s no single, perfect budget that works for everyone, so be sure to make adjustments from month to month to fit your needs. For example, save more in higher income months.

Make sure it’s realistic. The key is being able to stick with whatever plan you create—so make sure it can work for the long haul without losing its effectiveness.

What are the three common budgeting mistakes to avoid?

  • Not setting a budget. 
  • Not knowing where your money goes.
  • Not sticking to your budget.


Hopefully, this gives you some ideas to try in your own budgeting process. Just remember that there is no one-size-fits-all method, and you should always keep an open mind when it comes to finding the best way to manage your finances. Budgeting takes time—if it doesn’t work out right away, don’t give up!

There are plenty of resources we have written to help you with other related questions. 


How to Create a Budget – 6 Easy Steps

Can’t Save Money Because of Bills? How to Navigate Wisely

Save More Money with the 50-30-20 Budget Rule

The 20/10 Rule

6 Money Management Tips For Women

20 Types of Budget

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