It is hard for me to believe, but this time last year we were sorting through all of our belongings, around half of which ended up being given away or thrown away. My husband was about to quit his full-time position as a software analyst and we were embarking on a move from Michigan to our new 2 acre homestead in Texas.
When we arrived I had some part-time work lined up, but for the most part we knew we would spend the next few months making just enough to eat and work on a few projects on the homestead. We had important reasons for not wanting to become entangled with a corporate job, many of which are beyond the scope of this article, but one of them was being able to choose how we spent our time and being able to build our homestead.
In this past year I have about tripled my “working” hours in writing and my husband’s work is mostly taken up in building the homestead. Needless to say we aren’t receiving a direct deposit of the same amount into our bank account every two weeks like we were last year.
But, like last year, we still try to budget. While this looks drastically different than the usual budgeting in which you sit down, write down your income, write down your expenditures, and go from there scenario; it actually works in much the same way.
Budget Only What You Have
We can’t sit down and say “Friday we get a paycheck for $x,” but what we can say is “We just received a payment of $x.” This fits really well into our no-debt philosophy in that you don’t count on money you do not have. Once you have it, you budget that amount only.
Put Priorities In Order
Once you have your payment you need to decide what your top needs are. These are your priorities. You might have food, rent, and giving at the top of that list. Other things like clothing you might be able to go without, unless you have money leftover after your higher priorities are taken care of.
Save or Invest
Also in the priority list for us is investing. We are investing in our homestead as a way to create a sustainable living situation that will allow us to not need money for food, water, etc. later on. So, for instance, if we invest in a fence to keep animals out of our gardens or orchards then we are investing in food production which will then eliminate a substantial part of our grocery bill for years to come.
You might also use this money to save for a project or purchase in order to stay out of debt. Or, perhaps you will sock it away as savings for a rainy day.
Realize that Once it’s Gone, it’s Gone
I think this is something to consider for those who do earn a regular paycheck as well as those of us who don’t. Once you spend that money you don’t know when the next paycheck will be coming in, so spend it wisely. Take care of all of your basic needs first. Sock away enough to take care of your family and your community if things get really tough.
Whether your paycheck comes biweekly or (seemingly) randomly, I find it helpful to remember that we are given these resources and need to properly steward them.