Budgeting on an Uneven Paycheck

Do you get an uneven paycheck? Many workers do not get a set paycheck every month and need to budget with an uneven paycheck. I am one of those workers!

I like to use percentages instead of fixed amounts for a budgeting system that works for me. 


Not everyone gets a set paycheck every week or month.

Do you get paid hourly?

Are you not a salaried worker?

Are you a freelancer or a gig worker?  

Some people get a set paycheck every month, but for many people, it fluctuates depending on how much they worked that month, overtime, holidays, etc.

Are you a gig-worker?

How do you budget when your income changes all the time?

Budgeting When Your Paycheck Is Not the Same Every Month

For some reason, so many budgeting systems assume that you get a set paycheck every month. That may work for some, but many of us (me included!) who don’t get paid a set amount. I personally get paid hourly, so if I work more or fewer hours in a paycheck period, I don’t get the same amount of money.

I would wager that I am not the only one in this situation! With the rise of the gig and freelance economy, this is becoming more and more common. Many of us get an uneven paycheck every month, which doesn’t really lend itself to budgeting with specific and clean numbers.

I use the Modern Envelope Budgeting System. Please read that post before this one- it’s the basis of how to budget using a zero-based budgeting system. I like that system the best because it ensures you actually stay within your budget.

The most important thing is to budget, budget, budget! Click To Tweet

Make sure that you are making smart choices with your money, especially in months when you make more, to get by in the months when you make less. Having a clear budget can help you be in control of your money, finances, and financial future, even when it’s not an exact science.

It may seem daunting, but I created a pretty simple budgeting system for myself that you can use too!


Here is a step-by-step guide to help you figure this out!

Uneven Paycheck Budgeting

  1. Add up all your monthly bills. Round up. These are not usually negotiable, so you want to make sure that these are paid first. No evictions or electricity cut-offs for you! If you get paid bi-weekly or weekly, you will divide this amount by 2 or 4 for each paycheck. If rent and bills are ,000, but you get paid every 2 weeks, you would deduct $500 from each paycheck.
  2. When you get your paycheck-deduct 10% for charity, I try to always include charitable giving in my budget. Although I don’t make much, it is important to keep on giving to others regardless of my own financial situation. Obviously, I wouldn’t let my own kids starve, but I do make sure charity is always in my budget. (I put my charitable giving into an account until I have enough for a decent donation or something comes up that speaks to my heart. See here how).
  3. Deduct 15% (or 30% or 50%!) for savings. Put this in your savings ladder.
  4. Deduct your bills from this amount left after steps 2 and 3.
  5. Decide on a percentage for all variable categories (clothes, spurge, coming soon, etc.) to put in your “envelopes.” The Modern Envelope Budgeting System uses bank accounts instead of actual envelopes to maximize savings and credit cards. For example,  I usually use 10% for each. Deduct that amount from your paycheck.
  6. The amount that you have leftover is for food and discretionary spending. If this amount is too small, then lower your contribution to your other variable categories.
  7. If you have paychecks that are truly feast or famine (some months you make significantly more and some months you don’t even make enough to cover bills you will have to put extra in feast months into your bills and food accounts. It will take a lot of self-control and planning, but it can be done!

So the math looks like this:

Paycheck Amount $2,000.00  
Charity $200.00 10.00%
Savings Ladder $200.00 10.00%
Bills and Rent $700.00 FIXED
Clothes $100.00 5.00%
Coming Soon $100.00 5.00%
Transportation $100.00 5.00%
Food/Discretionary $600.00

The easiest way to calculate where everything goes is to use an Excel spreadsheet. Simply set it up with your desired percentages and your total bill amount, and then every month, put your paycheck amount in, and Viola! Each amount is calculated for you. You can use my example above to help yourself get started.  Play around with it and work out which numbers work best for you!

Are you clueless when it comes to your finance? The Basic Guide to Budgeting and Personal Finance will help you get started.

Hi! I am a millennial mom with a passion for personal finance. I have always been “into” personal finance but got inspired to start my blog after a period of extended unemployment. That experience really changed the way I viewed my relationship with money and the importance of accessible personal finance education.

2 thoughts on “Budgeting on an Uneven Paycheck”

  1. I can`t agree more than what you are saying, budgeting is so important, 99 % of the population needs to be budgeting if they want to pay their bills, save some for later and live a life …

    Altho the envelope system is ancient, it still works very efficiently, develop your system and things will work out.

    • Thank you for your comment! Yes- budgeting is the best thing to do if you want to have control of your finances rather than have them control you.


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