One of the most nerve-wracking and worrying things about being self-employed is the lack of a steady wage - one month you might be rolling in cheddar, then the next you're living off baked beans.
I get asked a lot about budgeting and what to do as during quiet months, so here are my top tips. Some of them may seem obvious, but are worth taking note of anyway.
Work out how much money you need to survive
Work out the bare minimum you can survive off. As in, bills, food, travel and a little bit of fun money (fun is needed even more when you're broke!).
Now that you know this amount, you can work out how far you are from being able to survive this month - we often actually underestimate how much money we have available, so you might find that while you won't be heading off on any shopping sprees, you'll have enough to pay the bills.
If you don't quite meet the minimum amount, is there any work you can take on that will pay you quickly, like a favour to a friend? Do you have any savings you can dip into? Anything you can sell on eBay/Depop?
Or maybe some overdue invoices you need to chase up...
Track your invoices
It's hard to remember which invoices have been paid and which ones you're still waiting purely from memory.
So, don't! Use an invoice tracker - here's one I made for you - to keep an eye on which clients have paid you and which haven't. This will minimise the chances of forgetting about payments you're waiting on and missing out on potential money, and if you find yourself skint and see that actually, you're waiting on a few invoices you'd forgotten about, chase them up!
Look for patterns in your income and prepare accordingly
If you're tracking your income (which you should be!), after a while you'll likely notice that there are certain months or periods where you have more income than others. As an example, some bloggers notice that they have less work in the summer because more people are outside enjoying the warmer weather than in the winter where most of us are indoors and there are lots of commercial holidays.
So if you notice that certain months are busier than others, save some money in those months to give you a cushion in the months where work is a bit thinner on the ground.
Pay yourself a salary
This is something that I practice myself. I keep all my business income in a separate bank account and transfer an amount to my personal bank account each month. It works because it prevents you from spending all that lovely money when you have a busy month and leaves you with some left over for the quiet ones.
By all means, give yourself a bonus or a raise when you want to - but remember that there may come quieter months, and make sure you're aware and prepared.
I'm a financial coach and mentor helping female business owners to gain the knowledge and confidence they need to manage their finances successfully and have a positive relationship with money. If you're ready to take control of your finances, click below to find out how I can help you.
I also have a range of amazing business resources which you can use.