Tips To Budgeting When You Aren’t On A Salary

This post is sponsored by Regions Bank, member FDIC. All opinions and views are my own.

Tips To Budgeting When You Aren't On A Salary

As someone who has been working on commission for most of her adult career, I’ve learned a few things about budgeting and keeping myself organized when it came to inconsistent paydays. For one, I worked as a shoe salesperson at Nordstrom in college. Then as a cocktail waitress for many years. Some weeks were great. Some were outright terrible. Then I got into corporate America and quickly found myself working off commission as a sales rep. It can be terrifying to some, but sales makes me excited! It’s always a challenge but any sale feels like little wins. Then with the blog, well that’s a whole beast in and of itself.

When you don’t have a consistent paycheck every 2 weeks, it can be a little challenging to budget and be responsible with your money. You’ll want to spend when you get in that big check. And you’ll probably want to panic when you’re having a terrible month. But it shouldn’t be that way. There’s plenty of tricks to make yourself feel like you’re having a consistent lifestyle and still building your personal wealth. I’m excited today to team up with Regions Bank to share some of these tips from banking, budgeting and finding your financial freedom.

For my local friends, Regions Bank has a few new branches opening up in Atlanta with their latest banking technology. From a virtual concierge who can help walk you through financial planning or get access to Regions’ DepositSmart ATM, which can accept deposits and cash checks for customers at any time, day or night. Having a bank that can help make your financial goals a reality is key! Plus, the modern look and feel of these banks makes it much more enjoyable to talk money which can be an overwhelming topic for many. Having a great bank you enjoy is step one!

How To Budget When You're On Commission on the blog

How To Budget When You’re On Commission

Create Two Bank Accounts

If you are one of those people who is tempted to spend money when you see it in your account, then you may want to try the same two account approach that I do. I actively use two checking accounts, and it can make budgeting much easier when you have an irregular income. One account should be your earnings and any savings. We’ll call this your RESERVE fund. And your monthly expenses that we’ll budget for below will also go into this RESERVE fund. Then the second account should be your payout account. We’ll call this one your EARNINGS account. This is how you will pay yourself. By keeping them separate, you won’t be inclined to spend more than you have or indulge in a month when you’re having a good one.

Build Up Your Reserve Fund

You’ll most likely have to build up your RESERVE fund before you can pay yourself out in the EARNINGS fund. But that’s okay. Spend a few months putting yourself on a strict budget so that you can build this out and create a safety net. Also, there’s ZERO shame in taking on a second job. I did this all throughout my corporate job to build a safety net and it came in handy when I quit to go full time with the blog. Sometimes 6 months of a side job can help set you up for financial success way more than you think.

If you don’t have a RESERVE fund yet, that’s fine too. Work on putting a little away each month. Just be consistent and set up an automatic draft that feels comfortable for you. Then at the end of every month, evaluate what you have, what you need (more on that below) and make an additional draft if you can!

Jessica Camerata and Regions Bank are sharing tips on budgeting

Track Everything

First and foremost, you’ll want to start keeping track of all the money coming in and all the money going out. Have a simple spreadsheet where you track expenses and be sure to record everything. You’ll want to include monthly recurring fixed expenses like rent, auto, insurance and so on. You’ll also want to keep track of variable expenses (these are ones that may change slightly based on your month) like groceries, gas, utilities, entertainment, eating out with friends and the like. Then there are periodic expenses. These may be emergency things, or twice a year items like your dentist visit, annual physical, auto insurance or even holidays and gifts. They may not be consistent, but they’re things you know you’ll have to pay for within the 365 days. Once you track all of this, we can get started on budgeting!

If you plan on contributing to a ROTH or SEP IRA or just want to continue to grow your emergency fund, add that all in here as well for your tracking. You want to make sure any and all expenses are tracked so you can successfully plan out the next step!

My Style Vita and Regions Bank are sharing tips on budgeting

Divide It By 12

Now that you’ve tracked everything and know what you typically spend in a year, go ahead and divide that by 12. This will give you the monthly expenses that you can expect. Sure you may not pay for all of that each month. But you want to know what you need to earn in a month and put away to cover these known expenses into your RESERVE bank account.

We always seem to forget about that big auto insurance bill every 6 months, or gifts for the holidays. By taking that amount into consideration and dividing it by 12, you make sure to put away enough money every month to cover it. Therefore, when the bill comes, or the high expense month like December rolls around, you’ll be well prepared and able to pull from your reserve account without thinking twice.

TIP: You can also budget in your vacations like this too. If you’re planning on taking a $3,000 vacation once a year, add this in so you can put the money away that’s necessary to make it possible. Same goes for splurging. Want to buy a fancy purse or indulge twice a year in a shopping trip, add that in!

Pay Yourself Every Two Weeks

Now that you have two accounts and your RESERVE fund is nice and full, you can start to “pay yourself”. You’ll do this with your RESERVE fund and add it into your EARN fund. By paying yourself every 2 weeks, or monthly if you prefer, you create consistency. You can also look back at what you’ve made in previous years and subtract out your monthly expenses to get an idea of what your true take home is. I recommend being a bit conservative here so that you still maintain a great RESERVE account. But once you build up your RESERVE account and can pay a few months of expenses, you can begin to pay yourself into your EARN account. This is the account you can play with!

Automate What You Can

Once you start getting into a groove you can begin to automate things as well. I always draft a monthly amount to my emergency fund account to continue to build that. Plus, I always put some money into retirement. I do this automatically so I don’t even have to think about. You can add this into your budget, but once you figure it out, just automate the transfers so you don’t have to think twice. When you have to manually make these transfers, you may either forget to do it, or choose not to because you’d rather splurge. The automation helps it feel like it was never really yours to spend in the first place and that’s honestly the best position to be in.

Give Yourself Grace

Handling money and finances isn’t easy. Especially at first. But creating consistency and having a plan is the best way to approach it. There will be tough months and there will be great months. Just try to remember that when you’re on an inconsistent income. Celebrate the great months with a glass of champagne, or a nice dinner. But just don’t go crazy. The slow months will thank you for that.

New Regions Branches Opening in Atlanta in 2019

Sugar Hill 

5905 Suwanee Road 

Sugar Hill, GA 30518 

Branch Opening: January 22, 2019 

Bethelview Plaza 

5530 Bethelview Road 

Cumming, GA 30040 

Branch Opening: March 18, 2019 

Photos by Hannah Michelle

Jessica is an Atlanta life and style blogger. Aiming to bring practical tips to your every day life. Tips that you can easily tackle and make your life feel just a tad more 'put-together'.

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My Style Vita partners with affiliate platforms where commission may be earned based on clicks and or purchases. From time to time, MSV receives gifted items to review for consideration and when featured, products will initially be marked as c/o. Read our full privacy policy here.

Leave a Comment

16 Comments

  1. 4.16.19

    Great tips, but I’m still poor.

    xoxo
    Cathy, your Poor Little It Girl
    https://poorlittleitgirl.com

    • 4.16.19
      Jessica said:

      You don’t have to be rich to use the techniques! It’s a great method to keep track of expenses too.

  2. 4.16.19
    Rachel said:

    These tips are SO good! I’m absolutely terrible at budgeting so the idea of two accounts is genius!

    Rachel
    http://Www.hello-her.com

  3. 4.17.19
    Lisa Autumn said:

    Girl this was so helpful! Thank you!

    x Lisa | lisaautumn.com

  4. 5.8.19
    lee said:

    SUCH a great post! budgeting really is so different when you’re not salaried, and there isnt much info out there to guide people.

  5. 5.8.19
    Cathy said:

    These are such great tips! Staying to a budget when income fluctuates is really important.

    XOXO
    Cathy

  6. 5.9.19
    Greta said:

    One of my favorite posts of yours! I took so much from this.

  7. 5.9.19
    Liz said:

    Oh I love these tips! Thankfully, I’m pretty good at budgeting (probably a little too good sometimes haha!). But having multiple accounts definitely helps!

  8. 5.9.19
    Stephanie said:

    This was SO helpful for me to read through. I’m not on commission, but being a “freelancer” of sorts, my payment is all over the place and can get really tricky to manage. Thanks for sharing this info!

  9. 5.9.19
    Danielle said:

    These are wonderful tips! I use many of these for my business, although I do still work a salaried job! xo

  10. 5.9.19

    These are definitely useful tips! We never now when we might need to be on a budget, because of an emergency or because the business is not going well. Gotta be prepared. Thanks for sharing!

    Candace Hampton
    http://www.thebeautybeau.com

  11. 5.9.19

    Automating helps so much! I’m planning on building my savings this year and paying off all credit card debt. These are such great tips 🙂

    -xo, Azanique | https://www.lotsofsass.com

  12. 5.10.19
    Laura Leigh said:

    Great tips Jessica! Definitely very helpful!

    xo Laura Leigh
    http://www.louellareese.com

  13. 5.15.19
    Deanie said:

    Such good tips! Especially the second checking account. We like to utilize multiple checking accounts too and find it helpful.
    Xo, Deanie
    Deanie Michelle