Multiple clients, multiple paychecks
I'm a freelance writer, which means I don't have a single monthly income that arrives on the same, predictable day. For example, at the moment, I am working for five different clients, who each pay different amounts on different dates throughout the month. And I don't know which dates they will be, in some cases!
How do I factor this into using YNAB? Do I just estimate my monthly income and hope for the best? All ideas welcome.
You should look back at your average monthly income for the past year or so and consider that your maximum monthly amount.
Fund your needs first, then savings, then your wants. If your income is above average, set aside the "above the average" amount in a holding or deferred income category, so you can use it to make up for shortfalls in income in a low income month. If you haven't built up the deferred income, cut back on your wants in a particular month.
Be very deliberate about determining need vs. want. A need is an obligation, one you have to pay whether you get paid or not (this includes bills under contract, auto loans, etc.). A want is optional or a bill you can cancel at any time.
As a freelancer you need to be mindful of taxes and making sure you are setting aside money for retirement.
On another management note, here's some information on how to use YNAB to track accounts receivable. https://www.youneedabudget.com/calling-all-freelancers-and-small-business-owners-heres-a-simple-way-to-make-sure-you-get-paid/
and here's the 8-part series on variable income: https://www.youneedabudget.com/category/variable-income/
WordTenor beat me to the punch with the variable income series, so here's a link to the You Can Budget with Variable Income workshop! :)
It will help you understand how the highs and lows of variable income can fit into a monthly budget and seeing it done live allows for any questions you'd like to ask!