Managing your budget with part-time work

There is a growing trend in Canada towards part-time work or the “gig” economy. Some people choose part-time work, but many others are forced to take part-time jobs because they are unable to secure full-time employment. To keep your household budget on track, part-time work is indeed viable, but it does present some challenges that require planningpart-time work

Understand that your income fluctuates

“It’s one thing to set your budget around a set paycheque, but when your income fluctuates, it can be very hard to stay true to your plan,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.

“In order to accommodate these fluctuations, try to budget as much as you can based on the low end of your income.  During pay periods where your pay is higher, take advantage of the extra income to pay down extra on debt or put into savings,” says Schwartz.

Separate fixed and variable costs

When setting your budget, in addition to breaking down your spending into line items, also break out the set costs (e.g. your rent/mortgage, loan payments, etc.) vs. variable payments (utilities, groceries). It will help you anticipate areas in which you may need to leave extra “wiggle” room.

Work two jobs

If you are finding that you’re not generating enough income from your part-time job, what about taking on another part-time job additionally? Putting the two together can help get you close to full-time income.

Two jobs can be a challenge from a scheduling point of view, so make sure that you take on jobs with hours that don’t conflict.

Budget for benefits

The reality is that with part-time work, generally you don’t have any health care benefits. This means that you could be on the hook for costly out-of-pocket health care expenses.

Consider earmarking extra savings in cash, or consider purchasing health care coverage privately.

Pay extra attention to savings

With part-time work, you are even more reliant on your savings. You need a solid emergency fund in order to avoid turning to credit when unexpected expenses arise. You also need to save more for your retirement. Part-time work usually means no company pension to turn to in retirement, so saving more for the long term is essential as well.

Don’t stop looking

If you really want full-time work, don’t stop looking. Part-time work is a great way to fund your household during your job search.

What’s more, part-time work can give you a chance to gain additional experience, perhaps in areas that are of interest to you, but aren’t necessary conducive to your career path.

The upside

Part-time work can often lead to better work-life balance, with more time to devote to family, friends and hobbies.

Part-time work is often an excellent solution to avoid (or at least reduce) the substantial costs of child care, with parents working off hours to each other.

Is your part-time income creating budgeting challenges? Have you experienced a job loss and can only find part-time work?  You need to build a solid budget to avoid accumulating more debt. We can help. Call one of our trained credit counsellors at 1-888-294-3130 or check out our free online debt analysis.

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