Seasonal work has a lot of upsides, from the ability to earn a lot of money quickly to the promise of relaxing days once the months of toil are finally over. It also brings its fair share of challenges, especially when it comes to arranging your finances.
Creating a budget is simple when you’re receiving the same paycheck every week – but what about when you’re making lots of money one month and then none the next? Things are bound to get complicated. Luckily, you can still budget effectively when you’re working a seasonal job – you’ll just have to do some math and live with a bit more discipline.
Step 1: Determine How Much You’ll Earn in a Year
Since you don’t have a steady monthly income to work with, you’ll have to determine your total earnings over the course of a year. Start with the money you’ll make from your seasonal job, taking the expected weekly earnings and multiplying it by the number of weeks you expect to be working. Then, add that total to any additional income streams you might be expecting, whether from gig work, side hustles, or some other source. Alternatively, if you’re expecting your annual income to be the same as in past years, you can look at your tax returns to determine your total earnings.
Step 2: Divide Your Annual Income by 12
Now that you know your total annual income, you need to chunk it up into a timeframe you can more easily work with. If you divide your yearly earnings by 12, you’ll end up with the amount you’ll have at your disposal each month. Essentially, you’ve taken your irregular income and reimagined it as a monthly salary. This mathematical trick will allow you to budget as if you were earning a consistent income.
Step 3: Create a Monthly Budget (Based on Your Monthly Income)
Once you’ve determined how much money you’ll make per month, you can create your monthly budget. Add up all your necessary expenses, including housing, food, utilities, and healthcare. Then, consider how much you’ll be able to spend on leisure, travel, and other forms of recreation. To create a plan you’ll actually stick to, it’s best to write your budget down. That way, you can look back at your calculations and remind yourself to stay within your limits.
Additional Budgeting Tips
A few simple calculations will give you the foundation of a monthly budget, but there are other strategies you can employ to improve your financial health and make your seasonal income last. If you keep these tips in mind, you’ll be surprised how far the earnings from a seasonal job can take you.
Discipline is always an important part of budgeting, but it’s absolutely essential when you’re working a seasonal job. Whereas salaried workers can count on receiving additional funds throughout the year, seasonal workers have to make the money they’ve earned last until the end of the offseason. When your work season comes to a close, you’ll have all your earnings sitting in your bank account. Even if you’ve set yourself a responsible, sensible budget, there’s nothing stopping you from spending all that money on a lavish vacation or a few expensive nights out. Only by practicing serious financial discipline will you avoid those types of temptations.
Keep Seasonal Expenses in Mind
Your income might not be the only thing that’s seasonal. Expenses also have a way of rising during certain parts of the year. Some extra costs are unavoidable, like the increased utility bills associated with extreme cold in the winter or excessive heat in the summer. Others are tied to culture, like gift-giving expenses during the holidays or back-to-school shopping for parents with kids. When creating your budget, add all these expenses together and then divide them by 12 so that they become a part of your monthly total.
Boost Your Budget by Securing Additional Income
Maybe you’re not sure your seasonal job will give you the funds you need to get by, or perhaps you’d just like some extra spending money for travel or recreation. In any case, additional income would have a major impact on your quality of life. Plenty of gigs allow you to pick up shifts according to your own availability, making them great options for anyone with a job that’s time-consuming but seasonal. If you start working as a delivery driver, freelance writer, or any other position that falls within the gig economy, you can make some extra money during your offseason and then get back to your main job when the season begins again. This flexibility, always a benefit of gig work, is especially useful for seasonal workers.
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About the Author: Ben Clabault is a freelance writer from Sandwich, Massachusetts. He has spent much of his adult life traveling through Latin America. He currently lives with his fiance in Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala. His areas of expertise include travel, marketing, SaaS, and global cultures. You can find his work on Copyfolio and reach out to him on LinkedIn.