While some work from home jobs offer a steady paycheck, most are an independent contractor based and earnings are irregular. That’s why a clever work at home mom needs to get her financial plan in order.
This is a cautionary tale of do as I say, not what I did. I learned the hard way the need to get my financial duckies in a row. Like many, my work from home story started with a layoff. Unexpected and a big ouch. That’s because my writing work was generally seasonal. Most of it was concentrated into a six month period, with just a little work trickling through the rest of the year.
So the good news was that for about six months out of the year, the hubby, kids and I were living large. The other six months… well, not so good. We had bought a new house with a killer mortgage, a new Jeep (pretty red, buy unnecessary) and had practically no savings. The only good thing going for us was that we were able to go into credit card debt big time. And we did.
For the next few years, my work from home income was used to pay down the ever increasing debt, but was never enough to get ahead. Those off months were still racking up debt.
There Was Light at the End of the Financial Squeeze Tunnel
It took some hard self-examination and even harder work to turn our financial situation around. We had lots of no-spend weekends, as well as weeks and even months. We sold lots of stuff to raise money (yup, that red Jeep had to go). And we cut our budget to the bone, putting the “F” in frugal.
What hubby and I learned, though, is that it’s hard to adjust to changes, especially when it comes to spending habits. But waiting, pushing back, hoping for the dollar clouds to rain down is not going to fix a thing. The big lesson was this: when you start your work at home adventure, that’s the time to also think about your finances and how you’re going to make it work.
My Best Money-Saving Ideas on an Irregular Income
In no particular order, here are some of the ways I got my financial duckies in a row and learned how to survive on an irregular income.
- If you are into the “quick fix” you need look no further than your refrigerator. You can save a bundle almost immediately by cooking at home (oh, that was another thing we did way too much of back then, going out to eat… ACK, what was I thinking?).
- The grocery budget is one of the easiest to cut down. You might start with a weekly meatless meal or buy cheaper cuts of meat that cook up juicy and tender in a slow cooker.
- The best way I’ve learned to save money shopping is to never leave the house without a list. More often than not, if you go out without a direction you are likely to pick up items that you could have done without.
- Also, try and plan your meals ahead as this will reduce waste.
- Always aim to spend under what you’ve budgeted and then put in a jar and save it until you have saved enough for the item you wanted. This way it is not coming out of any other money.
- Utilities are another area where money can be saved and can easily be achieved by simply turning off lights when not in use, using the dishwasher once it is full, lowering the thermostat, or buying a programmable one. I’m sure my programmable thermostat has saved me lots of money because I’m notorious for leaving the heater on, burning up gas, as well as extra electricity.
- Another way I’ve saved is by canceling the cable and watching the cell phone bill. It seems like there are endless channels available on cable today. However, most premium channels replay the same movies so look into your current package to see what can be removed. As far as cell phones go, if you have minutes left over each month, chances are pretty good that you are over paying.
- The biggest bang for my buck (literally) was learning how to save. Even if it was just a few dollars a week. Once you know you can save $25 a week, try to up it by a dollar or two the next week. Before you know it you’ll have a nice little emergency savings account. Now “emergency” is the keyword here. Don’t start using that money just because you “want” something. It really should be for something urgent such as car repairs or paying the electric bill when your income is delayed (but you’ll put it back, right?).
Find a Financial Guru
For me, that guru is Dave Ramsey. One day while I was in town for errands, I heard him on the radio. He made so much sense. Not that other financial guru don’t, but Dave just made is so simple with his “Baby Steps” plan. The hubby and I are still currently working on our steps, but we’ve made a lot of headway and we can see reaching the final step someday in the future (and that’s sooner than later). If you haven’t heard or read Dave, head over to his site to read The 7 Baby Steps. His ideas about getting out of debt and financial freedom are perfect if you work from home.
If you are already working from home and living the irregular income life, I hope these ideas can help. If you just at the thinking about quitting that day job, then give these ideas some serious thought. And save as much as you can before heading off into that new journey.
Now, go off and make this an awesome day,