Budgeting as a Contractor, Tipped, or Self-Employed Income Earner – EP 288

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A lot of people believe that the more you work, the more you make money. But we only have a limited capacity to do so. Self-employed individuals, small business owners, side hustlers, and those who want to start up a business, WE HEAR YOU. We all know how tricky budgeting can be when your income is irregular. So in this episode, we’re talking about the nuts and bolts of why you should budget and how to deal with your irregular income. 

Budgeting brings structure to our spending habits.


  • Breaking the mold. Yass baby girl. It’s what God did when he made you, and it’s what your bosses are out there doing with your 1099 status and variable incomes. We see you. And this one’s for you. You know what’s ALSO for you? Our Debt Free Stories series on YouTube. Speaking of breaking the mold, we got some fellow FFP listeners slaying their debt and calling in to talk about it. This is content you don’t want to miss at Youtube.com/frugalfriends

Budget Your Irregular Income: 10 Reasons to Get Started Now

Budgeting is already tricky for those who earn regularly and have a payday pattern, but how about the irregular earners? This article from Wollit lays out a plan and pathway for our purchases, earnings, and savings. 

What Jen + Jill have to say:

When you earn differently, you spend differently; you budget differently, and that’s okay. Jen thinks budgeting helps simplify our spending by creating a structure on where our money goes. Jill says budgeting will also help improve our focus, alleviate anxiety, and reduce stress. It can also push us to create a budget for other essential things, such as an emergency fund which can be helpful for irregular income earners. 

How to Budget When You Have an Irregular Income

It’s easy to tell someone to “just budget monthly,” but not everyone earns money every month. Capital One’s article is straightforward and helpful for budgeting when you have an irregular income. 

What Jen + Jill have to say:

Jen adds a new step: saving one month of your baseline monthly income—budget based on the money you already have and not what you don’t have. Make a list of required monthly expenses, such as your critical monthly bills but remember to pinpoint other monthly expenses (wants, savings goals).

Meanwhile, Jill wants you to use your baseline income–put it into action. You can have different bank accounts for personal, business, and others. Do not forget to track your income and create a buffer account for lean months. 

The hardest part about budgeting with income that fluctuates

Jen explicitly mentions this for the non-W2 workers; the most challenging part of budgeting is the taxes. It’s also the reason why she hired an accountant.

For Jill, it’s the feeling of uncertainty, ambiguity, and isolation in how she earns money. She felt that the personal finance information needed didn’t fit her.

Bill of The Week

Thank you Savanna for sharing your bill about babysitting as a side gig!

Thanks so Much for Listening!

Thanks so much for listening! Many of you know we have a private community where we do monthly money challenges and offer accountability groups. We want to congratulate one of our members for a big win:

Another Win! The radical middle 🙂

Back story: our son and daughter-in-law came to celebrate Christmas with us yesterday. The gift we ordered for them is *still* in transit. We had two smaller gifts, but ... ugh.

Focusing on progress - part of me was like, "we just need to be frugal and explain and not get them anything else." The other part of me was like, "let's just get them a $100 gift card."

So, radical middle: We ended up at Lowe's and spent $23 on a discounted air plant and some clamp tool-y thingy. I was SO EXCITED. It took some discussion to keep hubby from impulse buying it (he's new to frugal, I have been really working on it for a year).

I am so excited to see how 2023 unfolds financially. I could not have gotten my husband on board without the information I have learned in here. It gives me great conversation starting points with concrete data (general and from our own spending) to support.

Congrats! Thanks for listening and if you want to check out our monthly challenge community head to frugalfriendspodcast.com/club to see what challenge we have coming up next.

Keep leaving us reviews on iTunes or Stitcher, and sending the screenshot to reviews@frugalfriendspodcast.com. And don’t forget to share your favorite quote from the episode by using the hashtag #FrugalFriendsNote. 😉

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