As the weather gets colder, there are fewer projects to be done outside. Most construction trades have a period throughout the year when things are slower, and concrete work is no different.
Different markets and regions have different weather patterns and corresponding slow periods, but whether the slower time in your area is two months, or just one, it’s important to have money in the reserve so you don’t find yourself in a tricky situation when there’s less work to be done.
Here at A-1, we want to make sure that we take care of our employees by providing as much work as possible during those periods, especially by scheduling shop time and maintenance tasks to get ready for the next peak season.
However, because the amount of work during slower times is never a guarantee, we’ve put together this guide on creating a budget for the uncertain winter months along with tips to help you save money.
If you’ve never set up a budget for your expenses, it may seem tricky on the surface. However, it’s a crucial tool for organizing expenses and saving money, and it’s actually quite easy to create one.
Write Down Your Typical Expenses & Income
The first step in creating a budget is taking note of your typical expenses and income. Write down your recurring expenses - rent, car payment, groceries, cell phone, gas - and your income. You can also put a “miscellaneous” line on your budget to prepare for unexpected expenses.
You can create a weekly budget or monthly budget, depending on what works best for you.
When you compare your expenses and income side by side, you’ll see if you are already saving money, or if you’re spending more than you make.
We are going to use the following charts as hypothetical numbers for an example budget.
|Slow Season Savings||?|
Calculate How Much You Need
Once you see how much money you’re making vs. spending, you’ll be able to calculate how much money will need to save to be comfortable during slower periods.
Taking the number you got from adding up your weekly or monthly expenses and multiplying it by the amount of estimated slow time should give you a rough idea of how much you will need to save to be comfortable during that period.
In the budget example above, you’ll see that the expenses total $1,605. If your location is anticipating a slower period with uncertain hours for one month (or 4 weeks), you know you’ll need to have $1,605 saved to comfortably cover your expenses during that time, in addition to your emergency fund or regular rainy day savings.
If your location expects two months (or 8 weeks) to be slow, you’ll likely need to save up $3,210 ($1,605 x 2) to comfortably cover expenses during that time.
It’s important to note that we try to provide our employees with as much maintenance and shop work as possible during the colder months, and we still do interior jobs during this time, but it’s better to be prepared in advance in case the amount of work is less than anticipated.
Plan to Save
Once you have your typical expenses and an idea of how much money you’re bringing in, you can subtract your expenses from your income to see how much money is left over that you can divide between Regular and Slow Season Savings accounts.
But before you begin putting money in the two savings accounts, you first have to calculate how much you will need to save each month for the slow season.
From the budget example above:
Income Total: $2,745 - Expenses Total: $1,605 = $1,140 Left Over
If the expenses during the month (4 weeks) of slow work are $1,605, that means you would have eleven months of income to cover one month off. So $1,605 divided by 11 equals $146 per month you’d want to put in your Slow Season Savings account.
In this example, there is $1,140 left over after all expenses are paid that can go into savings. At least $146 of that should go into the Slow Seasons Savings account each month ($36.50 per paycheck) so you can get to a comfortable balance, and the rest can go into your regular savings account.
If 2 months of slow time were anticipated, $3,210 would be necessary to cover those expenses. In this scenario, you would have ten months of income, to cover two months off. So $3,210 divided by 10 equals $321 per month ($80.25 per paycheck) you’d want to put in your Slow Season Savings account.
In reality, most people have more expenses than in this example. You will need to calculate the amount of money you have left over every month, how much time you would like to plan to cover with savings if needed, then find how much time you will need to spend saving.
1. Put Money Aside From Each Paycheck
In order to be prepared for periods of less work, it’s essential that you have money saved up to cover your expenses or act as a cushion in case you need it, and putting aside money from every paycheck can help you build up that reserve.
The easiest way to do this is by setting it up to direct deposit a portion of your paycheck into your savings account automatically. In most cases, you’ll be able to designate a certain dollar amount or a percentage to go into different accounts, like a checking account for spending money and a savings account for your cash reserve.
2. Make a Separate Account For Savings
Keeping your savings money separate from everyday spending money will help you see it as your reserve rather than readily available for spending. It’s important that you only use the money in your savings account for emergencies or things you have planned for, like budgeted expenses during slow periods.
Make sure to always be aware of what percentage of your savings account is long-term savings and what percentage is designated for slow months, or have two separate savings accounts to help you stay organized.
3. Think About Wants vs. Needs
If you have a big savings goal in mind, it can help to think about what you actually need to spend money on vs. what you would like to spend money on. When thinking about it this way, you may be less tempted to spend impulsively.
4. Use Free Budgeting Tools
There are many free tools available for you to get your budget off the ground. Google Sheets is a popular choice because it’s versatile; you can make it as simple or as complicated as you’d like, and there are many tutorials on YouTube that can help you set it up.
There are also budgeting apps and websites, like Mint, that connect to your accounts to track and categorize your spending automatically, helping you know how much is going in and out.
Dave Ramsey, one of the leaders in financial wellness, offers free resources and budgeting tools as well.
5. Take Advantage of Employer and External Resources
Here at A-1, we want to see our employees achieve financial wellness, and we try to minimize the burden of downtimes as much as possible.
To help with this, some A-1 Locations have the added benefit of financial wellness programs through their payroll provider. This includes general financial tips, counseling, and budgeting help.
There are also various online resources available for free, including websites like NerdWallet, Investopedia, and many YouTube tutorials and videos discussing the topics of financial wellness, saving, and budgeting.
As a concrete laborer or construction worker preparing for slower winter months, it’s important to always be aware of how much you’re spending and how much you’re bringing in with a budget so that you can plan ahead and know how much you’ll need, and need to save, for the future.
Without this tool, saving money and being prepared when there may not be as much work to do can be incredibly difficult.
Here at A-1, we want all of our employees to thrive and achieve financial success, and that’s why we feel that it’s so important to create resources like these.
If you haven’t already and you’re interested in applying for a position as a concrete repair technician with A-1 Concrete Leveling, click the button below to find an open position near you!
Want to know more about the job? We have plenty of other resources in our Careers Learning Hub. Check out some of these related topics:
- A Day in the Life of a Concrete Repair Technician
- How to Stand Out and Get Hired as a Concrete Worker
- The Pros & Cons of a Career in Concrete Leveling