Waitress Budget

7 Feb


Hi there! As most of you know, I make my money from waiting tables. I’m an artist at heart, but I like to eat, so does my dog. So I adapted. When I first started waiting tables ( a bazillion years ago) I would just spend my cash, almost directly after each shift. It’s so easy to feel like you have money when you are making cash everyday. It’s totally different from getting a paycheck that you have to make last a week or two. Ten days before my bills were due I would start picking up extra shifts and putting away all my cash for bills. I was always broke, stressed and cranky. Going to work feeling like you really need the money (right now!) is a perfect way to make you hate your job.

I wait tables because I feel like there is no reason for me to put 40+ hours a week into a job that will zap all of my time and creative energy for a portion of the money that I make now. Also I am pretty good at what I do, I love people, and I love the art of making people happy. I have yet to find the thing that I can do to support myself that combines these things with my passion for creating. It’s the whole reason that I dream of a food truck. In the meantime this is my server budget formula. Because it’s hard to adapt when you don’t get a regular paycheck.

Add your monthly bills together, divide them by four. This is the amount of money that you need to be able to put away each week. If you think this seems impossible, then you are not making enough money.

After you decide what you need to make per week, you can then divide that number by the number of shifts that you work per week. That number is the amount that you need to put away each shift to make your per week quota.

If you work a few slow shifts and a few busy shifts then its okay to adjust the amount that you put away day-to-day. Then you can put away more money on your more profitable shifts and less on the other days. Some of you may make your weekly amount in one shift! In that case you can just put it in the envelope and then the rest of your money is basically free for whatever you want.

The easiest way to do this is to gather some envelopes and label them.




Don’t let this scare you. You can put your bill money into your bill envelope, then divide what’s leftover into two more piles. I try to save as much as I can but I know I need an entertainment budget too. I just split up the money according to how much I want to spend and how much I want to save. Sometimes I have leftover in the spending envelope when I go to the bank so I just put it in my savings. Sometimes I spend more than I expected and I take a little out of the savings envelope before I go to the bank. It’s just an adjustment.


If you don’t have much money, I started my savings envelope by just putting away dollar bills. If I made $83 then $3 went in the savings envelope, $85 and I put nothing. $87 and I put $3. Get it? It’s small, but when you don’t make a lot it’s an easy way to stash a little cash. I got the idea years ago from a friend that would put away anything over an increment of ten. If she made $85 she would put away $5. If she made $87 she would put away $7. If she made $90 she would put away nothing. Get it? You can do it however you want. It’s just smart to save.

Can we talk about change? The first time I decided to keep all my change I was bar tending at a little dive bar that had tax built into the prices. Everything was priced by the quarter. $3.25 for a beer, $5.25 for a burger. So people would leave me their change a lot. At the end of the night I would usually cash it all in, but I started putting it all in a jar. After six months I had $700. In change. I know!! So don’t discredit the value of change.

Most importantly in your waitress budget, or any budget, is to pay off your debt. If you eliminate additional payments then you have more free money for yourself. I paid off all my debt a few years ago and it has been amazing. Eliminating payments can cut your monthly bills in half. I used a snowball effect, paying off the smallest and then rolling the old payment onto the next debt until it was all paid off. It’s easier than you think. Live within your means or work more! Happy budgeting!


2 Responses to “Waitress Budget”

  1. blogturtle February 8, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    nice fun drawings. keep it up.
    art is good for the mind and soul 🙂

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