How To Budget As a Gig Worker

The financial turbulence experienced by Canadians due to the pandemic has brought numerous challenges, especially for those involved in the gig economy. Albeit, the government provides self-employed Canadians with EI (Employment Insurance) benefits, the unpredictability and economic downturn still make it hard for many gig workers to stay afloat. Before the pandemic, gig workers already dealt with inconsistent income, lack of structure and high potential for burnout. However, on a brighter note, many businesses have transitioned to operating virtually, opening doors for contract and remote workers.

In this guide, we will explore effective strategies on how to budget as a gig worker to help you manage your finances wisely and maintain financial stability even in the face of unpredictable income.

7 Essential Tips for Gig Workers

Here are some strategies to help you manage your money when your income fluctuates.

1. Identify Your Earnings and Expenditure

The first step to creating a budget is determining your earnings and expenditures each month. This may be challenging when your income varies. However, you can start by tracking your expenses and income for three to six months. Consider your debt payment and savings as expenses too.

For instance, if your total expenses for three months add up to $15,000, your average monthly expenses would be $5,000 ($15,000 divided by three).

2. Pay Yourself a Regular Salary

Regardless of the budgeting approach you adopt, ensure your budget balances at the end of each month. To manage fluctuating income, consider creating three bank accounts — one for income, one for expenses, and a savings buffer. Deposit all your income into the income account and transfer your ‘salary’ to the expenses account.

For instance, if your average monthly expenses are $5,000, that’s your monthly salary. For the months when your income exceeds $5,000, transfer the extra funds into your savings buffer account. During leaner months, you can draw from your savings buffer to make up your salary to $5,000.

3. Set Money Aside for Taxes

As a gig worker, it’s crucial to remember that not all your earnings are available income. Set aside a portion of your income each month or create a separate bank account for income taxes. Having this money readily available will help you pay your taxes promptly and avoid unnecessary tax debt.


“A side hustle, or short-term contract job, offers a means for a household to deal with the rising cost of living and cover expenses when traditional employment hasn’t been reliable.”


Additional Strategies

4. Plan for Health Insurance

Health insurance is often overlooked by gig workers, but it’s an essential expense that should be budgeted for.

5. Establish an Emergency Fund

An emergency fund is a safety net that can help you manage unexpected expenses. Aim to save at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses.

6. Invest in Retirement

Don’t neglect your retirement savings. Regularly contribute to a retirement fund to secure your future.

7. Monitor and Adjust Your Budget

Just like any financial plan, your budget should be flexible. Monitor your income and expenses regularly, and adjust your budget as necessary.


Learning how to budget as a gig worker is crucial for maintaining financial stability, especially in an unpredictable economy. By implementing these strategies, you can manage your finances wisely and ensure a more secure future.

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