Budgeting with an Unknown Income | My September Budget

Most months don’t bring very much financial anxiety for me anymore. I’ve grown a lot in this way: when I started this website, my anxiety seemed to creep into every post. Now, I don’t often worry about money like I used to (other than, for instance, during the start of a global pandemic). September tends to be an exception to this rule, because it’s always been difficult to plan. I never know exactly what my income will be, due to my first paycheck being incomplete, my salary changing, and whatever 457 contribution changes I’m making (a LOT this year).

So, I’m a little anxious. Of course, I’ve done the best thing I know how to ease this: I’ve created a plan with the acceptance that it will change. This post explains my plan (budget), but take it with a grain of salt, knowing that things are going to be very different. Still, it should represent an ideal month this school year, so it’s not exactly meaningless. Let’s take a look.

FYI: this custom budget template (and a pen & paper version) are available for free.

The unknown piece of this equation is, of course, the income. $2,500 is what I expect for a normal month, but it’s an estimation, and my first paycheck of the year will be different for a number of reasons. My anticipated savings, as you can see above, are VERY different than they normally look. This is because I’m going to have less take-home pay to work with, so I’m saving up for smaller things I would normally cash flow, like grad school and car repairs. I’m also saving monthly for summer this year, so that takes up $320 out of my income each month. My gift & business funds are the same, and my travel fund will most likely be at $170.

My fixed costs changed a bit. Firstly, I decided to cancel my Audible subscription as I’m no longer giving my money to Amazon and supporting their unethical practices. I still have my Prime membership until January 2021, so after that point, I’ll be totally done spending money there. But until then, I’m cancelling Audible and looking for different online shopping options when a need/desire to purchase something arises. Secondly, I got a much more accurate number for what I spend on Hattie per month: it’s $140 for all of her food and medication total, so $70 for my half. If you’re looking to adopt an older dog, this is probably a good idea of how much it costs monthly to support your pup, not including having a sinking fund for vet emergencies (which can be super expensive).

As for my variable expenses, I’m keeping things mostly the same. I decreased my “other” category slightly, but my gas and food categories have been pretty accurate for the last few months, so I’m keeping them the same. While I’ve gone underbudget the past few months, I still like having a little wiggle room for food and other things, and sending the money to savings if I don’t end up using it.

How to adjust when things change?

If, by some beautiful happenstance, I take in more money than I anticipated, it will go towards my savings (specifically, rebuilding my car fund). More likely, I’ll bring in less income than anticipated. In this case, the first thing I will cut down is my other category, and then I can skim some money off the top of certain savings accounts that aren’t urgent (travel, business, and my car fund rebuild). Seeing as Christmas is coming, my gift fund will stay the same if at all possible. Grad school and summer are also time-sensitive, so those will be kept as they are.

Here’s to hoping that my estimates are not far off 🙂

Rachel

P.S.

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And if you need more guidance with goal setting, mindset shifting, and budget brainstorming, you can purchase my Money Map Workbook for just $9 –> Get Your Money Map Workbook

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