Budgeting sucks.

We’d all rather spend money as we want, splashing out and enjoying life. But unless we’re Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk or some other zillionaire, that’s just not the reality for us. We all have to learn to live within a budget.

Budgeting can be further complicated for people with irregular incomes. You pick up a contract, or you have a few weeks off between jobs. How do you budget when your income varies month-to-month? Or year-to-year?

Our Wellness program has some suggestions:

Budget using your average income. Look at the trend of what you make year-to-year (or month-to-month) and average it out. Then build your budget from there.

Budget using a holding account. Basically, you take every dollar that comes your way – salary, tax returns, bonuses, everything – and put it into a holding account. Then you pay yourself a base salary out of that account, based on what you can afford. This lets the balance of the holding account build during good months, so you can meet your bills in tough ones.

Use two budgets. One for good months, one for tough ones – but this can be tricky, so you need to be disciplined during the leaner times.

Done right, a personal budget can help us focus on what we can do, not what we can’t. And that alleviates a lot of potential stress and anxiety, which is helpful for our mental health.

Each week, ICBA’s Jordan Bateman reflects on what we’ve learned as we participate in ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program. ICBA’s Workplace Wellness Program is helping more than 80 companies and 8,000+ construction professionals better understand mental health. This program is free for all ICBA members – check out icba.ca/wellness for details.