Managing bills effectively on a fluctuating wage

Wednesday, 20/05/2015

A growing number of people are now finding that their income from employment varies considerably from week to week. Temporary contracts, self-employment, zero-hour contracts and agency work can all mean that your bank balance is in an uncertain state of feast/famine. In these circumstances, finding the necessary monies at the end of each month to pay off a series of monthly direct debits can be a real challenge. Find out how to manage this difficult task more successfully with these highly effective suggestions.

Mix things up a little

Rather than pay all your bills at the end of the month, try staggering direct debits, setting up one or two to come out each week. This avoids the need for heavy outlay in a short period of time, which can be particularly difficult to achieve if income varies unpredictably.

Consider PAYG or a series of little payments

Many utility firms now allow payment in a series of mini-instalments, provided an acceptable amount is paid by the end of the month. Bill payers can contribute as little as five or ten pounds, but in several instalments rather than just one. Some people also find that buying groceries more frequently rather than undertaking one larger shop enables them to more closely tailor their expenditure to the amount of money that’s coming in, rather than spending more than they can afford.

Don’t borrow if you aren’t certain you can repay the loan

When times are tough it can be tempting to opt for instalment loans or other forms of short term borrowing in order to make ends meet. Whilst instalment loans are a useful choice in an emergency or to cover some essential but unexpected outlay, they shouldn’t be used as a way of propping up an insufficient income.

Managing on a variable income is a difficult task, but the tips above should help you stay on track and avoid the problems which falling into debt can create. By prioritising essential debts and adopting creative spending strategies it’s possible to make your budget work for you, even if you can’t enjoy a regular monthly salary.


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Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk