Budgeting 101: For Hospitality Workers

  1. I set my own schedule and set boundaries for when I could and could not work. What this did was create structure in my life. It’s much easier to predict how much you’re going to make when you work the same shifts. I respected my time by refusing to work shifts that didn’t make the money I needed. I only worked one 14 hour day a week. It was the most I could work while not completely burning myself out for the rest of the week.
  2. I stopped going out after work. If you are very close with your co-workers, then set clear boundaries and expectations for when you will go out. $40 Ubers at 4 am add up. Rounds of drinks for everyone adds up. You can’t build routine when you feel hungover on a Wednesday morning after a night of drinking until dawn. How are you supposed to accomplish any of your other goals if you have no energy?
  3. I underestimated. Because I had a consistent work schedule every week, I could guess based off shifts in the past how much I would make. For example: Every Monday for a 5 hour shift I would roughly make $35 an hour post-tax. I would guesstimate my expected income to be $5 less than I historically average, meaning I would budget based off of $30 an hour. Any extra money past the expected income would go towards my debt or savings. TIP: Base every estimation off of post tax. The simplest way to figure this out is to divide the total by .67. Each state is different and it is always helpful to ask your employer specifically how much tax is taken out. If your company doesn’t take out tax then make sure to take out at least 20% of each paycheck for taxes.
  4. I worked out before my shift. The easiest source of overspending is stress. When you are in a better mental state you make smarter financial decisions. I made it a point to work out before almost every shift. It kept me grounded, focused and relaxed. I noticed a massive difference in my mood, which would limit my temptations to blow money on useless activities.
  5. I practiced gratitude. I was thankful for my job. I wanted to teach yoga but I wasn’t making enough money to do it fully while trying to tackle my debt. I made the conscious choice to go back to waitressing and used every single dollar I made to pay off my debt, save for 2 months rent, go to weddings, and teach yoga without fearing how I’m going to survive. Waitressing was a tool and helped me in my time of need. When my energy would deplete I would remember that waitressing afforded me the incredible gift of financial independence.
  1. Write down your 3 month historical expenses.
  2. Set your own schedule. Figure out how much money you need to make, and shape your schedule around that. Factor in days off on the scheduler.
  3. Predict monthly revenue by writing down expected income each week.
  4. Come up with a 12-month debt payment plan. How many extra shifts do you need to work a month to pay off your debt in a year post monthly budgeted expenses?
  5. If you are not in debt, create a 12-month emergency fund savings plan. How many shifts do you need to work a month to save enough for 8 months of unemployment post monthly budgeted expense?



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AJ Wolbrum

AJ Wolbrum

AJ is a Financial Freedom Coach and the founder of Beyond The Green Coaching. https://www.beyondthegreencoaching.com/