How to budget effectively with a freelancer income?

Even if you are earning a freelancer income, good budgeting habits can help you to better make ends meet.

From increasing prices of  to  and the recent step-up in, inflation is a  in Singapore, particularly for freelancers with an irregular income. With core inflation expected to stay around 3%, and consumer prices set to increase further, it is more crucial than ever to manage your budget effectively. Read on for essential budgeting tips and strategies beyond spending less than you earn!

Understand the budget process

Budgeting, in a nutshell, involves the process of creating a plan to manage your money. It entails forecasting future income and expenses and allocating funds to different categories such as savings, necessary expenses and non-essential spending.

As freelancers or gig workers typically earn an irregular income, it is advisable to create a new budget each month. The goal is to ensure that you have enough money for the things you need and want, without overspending.   Here’s how you can get started:

Easy steps to create a new budget

1. Identify all sources of income through your past earnings: If possible, a record of your income earned over the last 12 months would be ideal. Creating a spreadsheet can help you to better keep track. Take note to identify your highest monthly income, lowest monthly income and average monthly income.

2. Account for applicable taxes: There are several obligations under the Self-Employed Scheme. Besides Income Tax, the MediSave contribution is mandatory and computed based on one’s age and net trade income.

3. Identify recurring/fixed monthly expenses: When budgeting, you should account for monthly recurring expenditures before accounting for your variable expenses. For example, payment for your home mortgage loan, utilities bill, childcare services, insurance, etc., are fixed expenses with higher priority as compared to an ad-hoc leisure trip.

4. Set aside extra money for miscellaneous expenses: Irregular expenses are variable costs that don’t occur monthly but can be anticipated, such as annual insurance premiums, car maintenance, or gifts.

When budgeting for your variable expenses, always add a little extra “cushion” to account for unexpected spending. To track your spending, you can sign up for a budgeting app or consolidate your accounts in your preferred bank app. Most bank apps offer the option to help you manage your finances.

5. Save whenever you can:It has been found that savings can help households to cope with income instability and unexpected expenses. Hence, even if you are earning a freelancer income, it is beneficial to save when you have money left over after your expenses are covered. By creating savings goals, you will also be more driven to put aside that money towards financial goals such as your child’s higher education or your retirement.

As much as freelancers may like to pay themselves first, it can be stressful and unrealistic to automate a set amount of savings each month. Instead, you may want to save different amounts of money based on your spending habits. E.g. you save more when you receive a work bonus or save less when you have an unexpected bill to pay.

To make the most of your savings, consider Tiq CashSaver, a capital guaranteed endowment plan upon maturity. It provides a lump sum payout at maturity1, guaranteed yearly cash benefits and non-guaranteed yearly cash benefit that provides you the flexibility to start saving from as low as S$125 a month2.

Whether you’re saving for your child’s education, planning a vacation, or cultivating the habit of regular savings, you can begin today with an amount you’re comfortable with, knowing your savings are secure even if unexpected events occur. Learn more.

6. Build a buffer: A vicious circle will continue in the direction of its momentum until an external factor intervenes to break the cycle. When it comes to income instability, prolonged financial stress induced by irregular income can lead to health issues over time, which in turn creates further financial stress.

That’s why changing your mindset towards money and improving financial literacy is crucial. To break the vicious cycle of income instability, you may want to build an emergency fund to protect against a lean season.

How to stick to your budget process?

Similar to dieting, creating a budget and sticking to it can be challenging for many people. This is especially so when your income or spending is inconsistent. The key to sticking to your budget is consistency and willingness to adapt as your financial situation changes. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  • Be realistic – Set SMART goals with clear and achievable financial objectives. For example, instead of saying “I want to save money,” a SMART goal would be “I want to save S$1,500 for an emergency fund in the next 6 months by setting aside S$250 each month.”
  • Monitor and categorise expenses regularly – Instead of leaving it till the month-end to consolidate all your expenses, which can feel overwhelming or lead to further procrastination, consider taking note each time you spend so that you can better monitor and assess your financial situation.
  • Prioritise spending based on goals and values – To stay motivated on budgeting, don’t be too hard on yourself. Ranking your expenses based on their importance and alignment with your values can eliminate unnecessary spending and keep you on track.

    As Melissa Browne, author of Budgets Don’t Work (But This Does), said, “I believe that finances are personal. In the same way that it’s not about dieting but rather eating well, I don’t believe it’s about budgeting but rather spending and investing .” The right insurance savings plan could set you on the path towards greater financial freedom. With Tiq CashSaver, you can start saving with what you have today while protecting future dreams.
  • Constant reviews and adjustments – Regular budget reviews provide a comprehensive overview of your income and expenses, helping you understand where your money is going and identify unnecessary expenses. Having a clearer picture of your financial status would also enable you to make informed decisions, evaluating the feasibility of new expenses or investments.
  • Reward yourself – When you reach a budgeting milestone, yourself with something small. This positive reinforcement can boost your motivation. Allocating a small portion of your budget for   can also prevent feelings of deprivation and helps you stick to your budget for the long term.

    With Tiq CashSaver, you can receive a steady flow of supplementary income3 from the end of your 2nd policy year, or you may accumulate your yearly cash benefit to further grow your savings at the prevailing interest rates4.

  • Stay accountable – Self-discipline can be tough, especially when one is struggling with an irregular income. Sharing your budgeting goals with a close friend or family member can bring you support and ensure you are committed.

Effective budgeting with a freelancer income

A survey conducted by Rakuten Insight in March 2023 found that about 85 percent of respondents in Singapore reported that rising prices of groceries had the most significant impact on them. In addition, 54 percent of respondents stated that inflation in utility costs was the most challenging to deal with.

While many of the financial hardships that low and middle income families are struggling with can’t simply be addressed with a budget, adhering to a structured budgeting process can give you an idea of your spending, and allow you to make adjustments to work towards your financial goals.

Effective budgeting can also help one to better manage financial instability and stress, especially for those with a freelancer income whose workload and income vary monthly.

Whenever you are ready, you could start saving monthly from as low as S$125 with Tiq CashSaver, a capital guaranteed endowment plan upon maturity that offers yearly cash payouts and protection for your family’s future. Some freelance work that involves working outdoors comes with greater risk of injuries or illnesses. Tiq CashSaver also provides protection for Death and Terminal Illness. Learn more.


1 Upon maturity if the policy is still in force, the maturity benefit payable is the sum of the following:  a) the guaranteed maturity value; and b) performance bonus (if any); and c) yearly cash benefit and non-guaranteed yearly cash benefit accumulated with us (if any); less any amount owing to us.
All bonuses are not guaranteed. This is a participating plan and actual amounts may vary depending on the performance of the participating fund that the plan is invested.

2 Based on a premium term of 5 years and yearly payment of S$1,500 (rounded to the nearest dollar).

3 Receive a guaranteed yearly cash benefit starting from the end of the second policy year until the policy matures, as long as the life insured is alive and the policy is in force. The guaranteed yearly cash benefit is 3.9% p.a. of the face value, while the non-guaranteed yearly cash benefit is 2.5% p.a. of the face value based on the illustrated investment rate of return of 4.25% In comparison, at an illustrated investment rate of return of 3% p.a., the non-guaranteed yearly cash benefit expected to be adjusted downwards depending on the future outlook of the Participating Fund.

Please refer to the policy illustration for the non-guaranteed yearly cash benefit amount at the investment rate of return of 3% p.a. and 4.25% p.a. respectively. The two rates are used purely for illustrative purposes and do not represent upper and lower limits of the investment performance of the Participating Fund.

4 The guaranteed and non-guaranteed yearly cash benefits accumulated with us will be at the prevailing interest rate. The prevailing interest rate is non-guaranteed and we may change the interest rate at any time by giving you thirty (30) days’ written notice.

Information is accurate as at 26 June 2024.

Please refer to Tiq CashSaver Product Page for full Terms and Conditions.

This policy is underwritten by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd (Company Reg. No. 201331905K).This content is for reference only and is not a contract of insurance. Full details of the policy terms and conditions can be found in the policy contract.

As buying a life insurance policy is a long-term commitment, an early termination of the policy usually involves high costs and the surrender value, if any, that is payable to you may be zero or less than the total premiums paid. You should seek advice from a financial adviser before deciding to purchase the policy. If you choose not to seek advice, you should consider if the policy is suitable for you.

This policy is protected under the Policy Owners’ Protection Scheme which is administered by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation (SDIC). Coverage for your policy is automatic and no further action is required from you. For more information on the types of benefits that are covered under the scheme as well as the limits of coverage, where applicable, please contact us or visit the Life Insurance Association (LIA) or SDIC websites.

Tiq by Etiqa Insurance Pte. Ltd.

A digital insurance channel that embraces changes to provide simple and convenient protection, Tiq’s mission is to make insurance transparent and accessible, inspiring you today to be prepared for life’s surprises and inevitabilities, while empowering you to “Live Unlimited” and take control of your tomorrow.

With a shared vision to change the paradigm of insurance and reshape customer experience, Etiqa created the strong foundation for Tiq. Because life never stops changing, Etiqa never stops progressing. A licensed life and general insurance company registered in the Republic of Singapore and regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Etiqa is governed by the Insurance Act and has been providing insurance solutions since 1961. It is 69% owned by Maybank, Southeast Asia’s fourth largest banking group, with more than 22 million customers in 20 countries; and 31% owned by Ageas, an international insurance group with 33 million customers across 16 countries.

Discover the full range of Tiq online insurance plans here.






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