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How to budget like a pro on an irregular income

Your roadmap to financial resilience in challenging gig times.

Hey there, gig worker! 🚀

It's been a while since you heard from us, and we’re back and ready to roll!

In this newsletter, we’re diving deep into budgeting on your irregular income. We’ll also bring you up to speed on the top company updates from UberEats, DoorDash and Instacart. Plus, there’s an exciting opportunity to start earning stock rewards from companies like Uber and Amazon on everyday purchases.

We've missed you, and we're excited to dive into the latest news and tips to make your gig life even better.

How to budget like a pro on an irregular income

Whether you're zipping through town with Uber, distributing deliciousness with DoorDash, or delivering packages with Amazon Flex, the gig economy can be unpredictable. As any seasoned gig worker knows, managing finances when your income fluctuates like city traffic can be a real challenge. Fear not, here’s a detailed roadmap on how to budget like a pro on an irregular income.

Step 1: Calculate your average earnings

Your gig income may vary from month to month, and it’s important to understand your average monthly earnings over the past year. Your average monthly earnings give you a financial baseline to work with for budgeting.

A financial baseline is important because while your gig income can fluctuate, having an average earnings helps you anticipate your financial situation more certainly. Knowing your average monthly earnings helps you set spending limits, allocate money for savings, and plan for essential expenses without constantly second-guessing your income.

To calculate average monthly earnings, create a spreadsheet or use an app like Moves to track your income from the gigs you worked. Add up your total income and divide it by 12 to get your monthly average.

Step 2: Set up an emergency fund

Life's curveballs don't come with a warning. Whether it's a sudden repair, medical expense, or natural disaster affecting your gig work, your emergency fund provides a safety net that keeps you afloat when unexpected financial challenges hit. Knowing that you have a financial cushion can alleviate stress and anxiety.

Building an emergency fund might sound daunting, especially if you're dealing with irregular income, but it's entirely doable. Set aside a portion of your earnings each month dedicated to your emergency fund.

Aim to save at least three to six months' worth of essential expenses, like rent and groceries. Store this money in a separate savings account for easy access in case of emergencies. Don't feel pressured to save a huge chunk of your income all at once. Begin by setting aside a small percentage of your earnings, even if it's just a few dollars each gig. The key is consistency.

Step 3: Ride the gig wave

Budgeting isn't a "set it and forget it" affair when you have an irregular income. When you have bumper-to-bumper gigs during peak times, you're likely making more money than you need to cover your basic expenses.

Instead of splurging it all, consider saving the excess. Inevitably, there will be slower periods in the gig economy. Whether it's post-holiday lulls or seasonal slowdowns, having a reserve of extra cash from your high-earning periods will help you weather these lean times without financial stress.

Figure out how much you want to stash away during busy times, whether it's a chunk of your earnings or a fixed amount. Having a clear goal keeps you on track. Remember, these high earnings savings are different from your emergency fund. Your high earnings fund is your backup when your regular income takes a hit, while the emergency fund is there for unexpected financial curveballs.

Step 4: Categorize your expenses

Budgeting as a gig worker isn't just about how much you earn; it's equally about how you spend. Categorizing your expenses is like creating a roadmap for your money—it helps you navigate where your hard-earned cash goes and make smarter financial choices. Categorizing expenses provides clarity. It's like putting your spending into neat little boxes. This way, you can clearly see how much you're dedicating to different aspects of your life.

List your essential expenses (gas, car maintenance, insurance, rent, utilities, groceries, etc.) and non-essentials (that fancy coffee, trendy but unnecessary footwear, and impulse buys). Prioritize the essentials and consider cutting back on the non-essentials during leaner times. Establish a spending limit for each category. This is the maximum amount you're willing to allocate to each expense category per month.

Step 5: Be the boss (with compassion)

Being your own boss can be both liberating and challenging. You have the freedom to make financial decisions on your terms, but you also bear the responsibility for the consequences. This step is all about finding that sweet spot between discipline and self-compassion. When it comes to budgeting on an irregular income, discipline is key. Be kind to yourself but also ruthless when it comes to making financial decisions. Say "no" to that tempting online shopping spree if it means you can sleep better at night.

Stick to your budget as closely as possible. When you're tempted to overspend, remind yourself of your goals and the importance of staying financially responsible. If you do overspend or deviate from your budget occasionally, don't beat yourself up. Instead, learn from the experience and adjust your future behavior accordingly. Being overly critical can lead to stress and hinder your financial progress.

Platform buzz & gig economy updates

Uber Eats introduces new features to help save money and time

Get ready for 2024 because Uber Eats is coming in hot with some game-changing updates to make your life simpler and thriftier. They're diving into the world of SNAP benefits, helping out with healthcare payments, unveiling a snazzy AI shopping assistant, and tidying up your deals with the Sales Aisle feature.

Making dashing even easier for Spanish-speaking Dashers

To kick off Hispanic Heritage Month, DoorDash is showing some love to Spanish-speaking Dashers. They've got a slick in-app translation tool, Spanish support for the Dasher chatbot, and the nifty ability to switch up your app language.

Instacart introduces new features to make your experience seamless

In August, Instacart decided to give its app a shiny makeover. They've brought in biometric login options for extra security, fine-tuned address accuracy, and thrown in post-delivery chat for good measure.

Earn Stock Rewards§ on Uber, Amazon, Lyft and more with Moves!

Did you know you could earn Stock Rewards§ towards Uber, Amazon, Lyft, and more, for everyday purchases like gas, groceries, and dining?

That's right. When you download the Moves app and open your Moves Spending Account, you’ll start earning Stock Rewards§ on purchases made with your Moves Card. The Moves Spending Account is tailor-made for gig workers like you, making it a breeze to handle your gig earnings and peek into your weekly cash flow. Download it now, get your card, and start earning stocks for your purchases!

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§Terms and eligibility requirements apply. See Terms and Conditions for more. Moves Financial is not a broker-dealer, investment adviser or member of FINRA. Brokerage services are offered by Alpaca Securities LLC (“Alpaca Securities”). Alpaca Securities is a member of FINRA and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation.

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