Summer is often the best-paying period of the year for seasonal workers. You have to be well organized to compensate for the slow winter period. Here are our tips to manage your budget!
“Personally, my strategy is simple,” explains Félix Charbonneau, diver and seasonal worker. “I took my least-paying year and divided it by twelve, and that’s my monthly budget. If have a better year, it’s a luxury that I leave for next year. This lets me avoid too many expenses when I have good months and guarantees that I will have good stability during the winter.”
This technique is an excellent starting point, according to Sylvie De Bellefeuille, lawyer and budget and legal adviser at Option Consommateurs. “A budget is certainly an additional challenge for seasonal workers, since they are in a situation where income is not stable,” she says. And be careful, because although most of them have access to unemployment insurance in their slow period, this is not automatically the case. “And unemployment benefits only cover a part of income. It doesn’t cover it all.”
Discipline, discipline, discipline
It is especially important for a seasonal worker to have an overall view of his annual budget… and to resist temptation. “In periods when the money is coming in you can have a tendency to spend more since you have had to hold back or because you have debts,” notes Sylvie De Bellefeuille. “The problem is that when the time comes that money gets more scarce, you have more difficulty.”
The adviser confirms that the key to success is to try to plan your budget over the long term. As Félix Charbonneau explained, a good way is to take the annual average of your income in recent years and divide it from a perspective of budget forecasting. “When the money comes in, don’t spend it all right away. You have to create reserves,” Sylvie De Bellefeuille says. “You have to be very disciplined. However, it’s not always easy to be rational with money.” Note that affording luxury is quite possible. It’s simply necessary to plan it… or at least make sure that you are able to afford it.
Another practical trick is to spread an amount for “planned contingencies” throughout the year. But what is a planned contingency? These are expenses incurred mainly before holidays and at the beginning of the school year. Although they come back every year, they are often overlooked in the budget calculation, in favour of rent and fixed expenses.
Now, to your calculators!