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How do you manage your budget on a commission-based income?

My DH provides the majority of financial support for our family, but he has a small ($600/month) base pay and the rest is commission-based. With the instability in the market and economy his paychecks fluctuate by up to $400/month sometimes. If you are in a similar situation, how do you manage your family budget?

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Asked by bltcahill at 4:25 PM on Apr. 23, 2009 in Money & Work

Level 1 (3 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • What kind of sales? When I did media sales I knew what my commission was far in advance based on my sales projections. I could base a budget on what fell into my "certain" category...contracts that were already written and had to go to air.

    But I'll be honest....I did a draw because it was better for me to try to beat the draw.

    Answer by gdiamante at 4:29 PM on Apr. 23, 2009

  • Wow, I'm not really sure what to say here. I would suggest you make up a "must" budget with all the things you MUST pay and the average payment for each. Then make up a second one of things that would be nice or extras or where extra payments can be made. Then stick to the "musts" when he has a low income month and once those are met on the other months get out the "extra" list.

    My business is 100% commission based. But I make residual commissions off of everything so I know that the least I will make is what I made last month... It always goes up from there each month.

    Do you work? Maybe you should look in to something part time if not. Something that will alow you to work and earn more on the months when he earns less... And work and earn less when he has a good check... Check out for suggestions.

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 4:33 PM on Apr. 23, 2009

  • gdiamante: he is a retail manager. he's seen sales go down and returns go up as people get more and more wary of their spending.

    sabrina: I do work part time, and our budget as it is now doesn't allow for us to use daycare or even pay a sitter to allow me to work more. DH and I work opposite schedules so one is nearly always home with the kids. Our MUSTs are pretty much our entire budget. We have managed to get credit-card free and have a (very) small savings, which we will be dipping into this month to cover rent and about 4 bills.

    My question is, I guess, what is the best way to budget when you don't know exactly what you're going to have to work with?

    Answer by bltcahill at 4:41 PM on Apr. 23, 2009

  • My SO is an assistant manager in retail and he's got a commission based pay also. It's difficult, but there's a certain amount of commission he pretty much always makes, and then from there some paychecks are better, but his store is the busiest in the district, so that's to be expected. But I work online to supplement, I don't get paid a ton, but I can contribute $100-$200 per month with what I do, so that helps. You should look into something like that for yourself.

    Answer by motherofanaries at 5:31 PM on Apr. 23, 2009

  • Some people recommend looking at last year's income and budgeting from there- but with the current economy that might not be quite as helpful. We're not exactly in the same boat as you, but with my husband sometimes working overtime, and sometimes not even full time, we have to be flexible so...

    Write down your basic expenses. Those get paid first- and you know what they are.
    Figure out how much you need for variable expenses like food, fuel, utilities, etc.

    When you get paid, make sure those are taken care of first. Then we say, if he makes $25 over that, that money can be used for entertainment for that month. If he makes enough to cover entertainment, then we'll put extra in savings, if he puts enough for savings and entertainment, then we'll put some money towards _____ (fill the blank.)

    If he makes more than you expected, don't blow it. Save it for unexpected expenses, and/or a bad month.

    Answer by Erica_Smerica at 6:12 PM on Apr. 23, 2009

  • I'm a single income family and work strict commission but manage. If I see I'm running behind or someone on my team is I just throw a party or offer an incentive to earn more sales from customers. I've worked other sales jobs and there are ways to work with the economy you just have to get creative! Also a good trick is to make your budget around the worse case scenerio months! Good Luck!

    Answer by usbornebooksdh at 10:46 PM on Apr. 23, 2009

  • My hubby used to work commission as a mechanic with NO base pay so money was definately not the same. Basically when the checks are good you save for when they are not good. Always try to keep a little nest egg in the bank for bad weeks and seasons. That is really the only sensible and logical way to handle commission. If you are struggling week after week for a long time then it's time to set a game plan to add a side job or work at home opportunity. The home opp that I have allows me to build a monthly residual income and I get paid my residual commission for the month even if I don't work. So an opportunity that offer monthly residual income is perfect for commission households. There are a few companies that offers the residual commission so you will just have to find the one that is a good fit for you. Good Luck and happy budgeting.

    Answer by Granna2006 at 11:21 PM on Apr. 23, 2009

  • What I would do is take the lowest of the low that he sees in his paycheck based on commission and make sure all your expenses falls into that budget. Anything extra he earns because sales were good that week BANK just in case things get really bad. You'll have to make a list of all your monthly bills and expenses and see what you can drop to be able to stay within that budget. So, if he has a base pay of the $600 a month and let's say he earns just $600 a month in commissions, you'd have to be able to pay all your bills and food on just $1200! If he happens to make $1400 the next month, bank that extra $200 incase you have a month where you only get $1,000!

    There are always places where we can cut back. There are a lot of things we pay for every month that really aren't NECESSARY: Cable, Internet, cell phones AND a land line, take out pizza, manicures, hair cuts/dye, when times are tough hard cuts have to be made!

    Answer by Mom2Jack04 at 10:55 AM on Apr. 24, 2009

  • look at this homebased business for great income  Would love to have you join us as we grow this business.



    Answer by jmcan at 1:23 PM on Apr. 24, 2009

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