This post may contain affiliate links, please read my Disclosure policy.
Budgeting when you work on tips as a server, waitress, barista or bar tender
Are you a server starting to become more financially aware and want to set saving goals?
Starting a budget can help in achieving your goals.
Budgeting for your income and expenses when your income is based on cash tips doesn’t have to be difficult.
You can control your income by creating a budgeting system that works for you. Also, by automating your savings.
As a server working on cash tips, one day you can make zero dollar and the next you can make in the thousands.
Yes, it happens that sometimes you may serve someone famous like an actress or politician or a large group who is generous with the tips.
Developing your budget based on these unpredictable cash flows is not easy, but doable.
Don’t get bug down by trying to work with a perfect budgeting system like the Cash Envelope or the Zero-based budgeting.
You can start by taking stock of where you stand now and start to budget as a server.
How to Budget as a Server Working on Tips
Estimate your Income
Grab Pen and Paper or use a Calendar
Take a deep breath and start tracking your income day-by-day. This may not be the most exciting thing to do, but you need to realize where you stand.
Tracking your income for three to four weeks will help you understand on average how much money you’re bringing in. And, that’s essential to start budgeting as a server.
You can grab our 20121 Free calendar so that you can jot down your daily money intake or use a notebook.
Make a note of your cash and charge tips daily. Also, note the number of hours you worked.
Once you average out your tips for this period, start using that average as your estimated income for your budget.
Estimate your Expenses
Grab our Excel Monthly Budget Template
Make a list of your essentials like rent, gas, food, electric bill, TV, internet, cell phone, insurance etc.
Note your discretionary expenses, these are the things you don’t need but are nice to have. Separating expenses between discretionary/flexible and essentials help you save from the discretionary pile.
Record all expenses on a budget template.
This Excel budget temple is an easy to use spreadsheet. There is no need to write formulas. Just input your income and expenses to get your monthly budget.
Another option is to use our paper budget sheets, if you prefer to write things down with pen and paper.
Free Spending Printables includes expense tracker, bills tracker and best trackers. Use these as another option to track spending.
Find Clever ways to Save
While you’re trying to figure out your budget, you can start saving money from your tips and salary.
- Set aside 15-25% of your daily take in for taxes and for saving.
- Save your money in the bank daily – keep deposit envelopes and slips in your car to make the deposits easier.
- Pay your daily expenses using cash.
- Save your change in a piggy bank or in a bottle.
- Do a money saving challenge – Save $1,000 with this saving challenge
- Check and see if you can get free money – best ways to get free money
- Do you have some free time? take up a side hustle to make extra cash
Find a Side Hustle
You’re probably already using a lot of waking hours working as a server. But, if you can find time to work a side hustle it can really boost your budget for more spending and saving.
You can put all your earnings from side hustling away on an emergency fund or on any other goals yo may have.
If you have some internet and computer skills there are many tasks you can chose to do to earn extra cash.
Most of these side jobs can be done remotely from home or other places.
If you like to write, freelance writing is a popular side job you can start doing. Here is a list of freelance writing gigs.
You can also make money with photography on your spare time. Here is a list of sites that pay for your photos.
Doing quick internet tasks on your days off can help you increase your server’s income. Here is how to earn money and get pay via Paypal.
What if you don’t feel like writing a formal budget?
If you don’t like to get bug down on the details of writing a budget, there are actions you can take to accomplish your spending and saving goals.
Set aside 15 to 25% of your daily cash intake and save it. Put away this money.
Use the remaining money for your expenses.
Anything that’s left over otherwise not saved, deposit it in your checking account at the end of the month.
Starting out to save money when you’re working as a server on tips is a great first step.
You are better off learning to set and use your own budgeting system. This will help you understand where your money goes and where you can trim expenses.
But, having a formal budget is not essential as long as you put money aside for daily or weekly savings.