Weekly-Patterned Thinking

I spent a few hours yesterday with my massage therapist friend, Bluejay, teaching her the CVS system and dropping in on her friend’s barbecue in a riverside park. Of course we touched briefly on our personal economics, and she mentioned how much she needs to earn each week to scrape by. Interesting, she thinks in terms of weekly too. Most people I know are paid either every two weeks or twice a month, though we tend to think of our larger expenses (rent/mortgage, utilities, credit card bills, insurance, etc) in monthly terms. She and I are both paid on the spot when we work, but daily is a fairly ridiculous way to think of finances.

When I lived and worked in Scotland, Spain and Japan, I was always paid monthly. I didn’t like it because I always had this niggling fear that the company would disappear the day before payday and I’d end up with nothing for the previous 4 weeks’ work and no recourse. And yet, it made really good sense from a budget perspective and, I suspect, made people more aware of sticking to a budget because a payday-to-payday lifestyle involved a rather long stretch of time. Aye, those Scots are a canny bunch (sorry, slipped into my other dialect for a wee moment – doh, did it again!).

I chose weekly because it’s easier to keep my finger on the pulse of my immediate finances. At any moment, I can answer how much I’ve made so far this week, what I made last week and for several weeks before that. To. The. Dollar. Some might think that’s obsessive, others might think freakish. The truth of the matter is that in boom times, it’s a constant reminder of how I can afford my travel addiction and in lean times, it’s a reminder to keep an eye on the pennies as well as the dollars. That’s a slight exaggeration, but you get my drift.

While I no longer get super-stressed about a dire week of business, I’m still trying to find a way to feel comfortable about earmarking any amount for discretionary spending. Not that I’m a shopaholic (unless you include my shop-for-free hobby), but there are things I semi-need that I’ve been putting off. So for those of you who are self-employed or have a sideline or for any other reason earn inconsistently, how do you approach your income needs and goals?

2 Responses

  1. I live one month behind. This month (May) I’ve been spending what I earned in April. In the meantime my May paychecks sit in the bank and wait to be budgeted in June. I budget every last cent— rent, groceries, dining out, savings, retirement, vacation fund, etc until I have no dollars left to allocate.

  2. I budget bi-weekly because I find it easier to keep track of that way. Weekly is too much for me and I don’t even want to think about the stress that would come with trying to track all that on a daily basis. Having a full-time job means I have the luxury of having paychecks that are relatively the same, so that is one less burden for me to carry. However, when I was freelancing, I did find that I kept a closer eye on how I was spending and when. But, with that I was paid after I completed the project, so I was always looking to make sure I had enough to cover the bills or if I needed more work.

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