When That Extra Week Goes Against You

Ever few months, you always hear the shouts of glee from people who get paid every two weeks.  That works out to an ‘extra’ paycheck for two months of the year.

My employer pays twice per month, so there are no ‘extra’ payments for me.

Really, they aren’t extra, of course, but it’s just the way and the frequency that they’re paid to you.  In the end, two individuals making the same salary will end up with the same amount of pay regardless of the payment schedule that their employer has set for them.

But, I digress.

One thing that I don’t ever hear is how this situation can work in reverse and how this can bite you if you’re not careful.

I’ll use our grocery shopping as an example.

We budget a standard amount per month for grocery shopping.  To make it even, I’ll say that it’s $300 per month.  My wife goes grocery shopping every week.

So, the simple conclusion is to say that the weekly budget is $75.  This is true for most months, but if you do the math, this works out to 48 trips per year.

Since there are 52 weeks in a year, this means that there are either:
a) four weeks per year that we go hungry
b) four months per year where we have an ‘extra’ shopping trip.

Well, option a isn’t even an option so of course we go with option b.  Which can hurt if you’re not careful.  If you’re on a strict budget, then you have to budget $60 for those months where you’ll do five trips.  If you’re on a somewhat modified budget, then you’ll probably look at it over the course of a year.

That’s kind of how it works for us.  We might, for example, spend $350 in a five-shopping-trip month but only $270 in a four-trip month.  Or something similar to that.  In the end, if your budget can absorb some of these ups and downs due to calendar events, you should be fine.  But, you should be aware of this because it can sneak up on you.

Not just in the grocery store either.  If you do such things as fill up your gas tank, go out for a Saturday dinner, rent a movie once a week, or any such ‘regular’ activity, you should be aware that certain months will affect your spending, then budget accordingly.

So, while the ‘extra’ paychecks that many love are a great thing, the ‘extra’ costs that we often see on the flip side of the coin are not so great!

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5 thoughts on “When That Extra Week Goes Against You

  1. I have often thought of that Beagle. I was wondering if I needed to 'smooth' that extra expense for groceries across all months and just make my monthly number larger.

    Get ready for the weather!!!

  2. I love 3 paycheck months, however, since I pay my daycare monthly (just cuz it's easier), I totally notice the extra costs when it's a 5 week month. To add insult to injury, those 5 week months aren't always a 3 paycheck month either.

    So yeah, I definitely need a bigger buffer as a result. I haven't noticed it as much with food though.

  3. For us, we really budget for every two weeks. Each paycheck has it's own budget, so these 3-paycheck months don't really affect us.

  4. I get paid once a month so I budget monthly but even when I got paid twice a month I still budgeted monthly. I don't know why people get excited about the 'extra' paycheck when they get paid every two weeks because it is not extra money. They are just getting less money more frequently than those who get paid once a month. Your yearly pay is still the same!!!!

    Another thing I don't understand is the people who get mad when we get paid early. We get paid on the last day of the month except for December when we get paid the second week of the month. My coworkers freak out that we are getting paid two 'whole' weeks early because that 'means' they will be broke for two weeks in January.

    No, you are broke in January because you spent too much at Christmas…NOT because you got paid two weeks early.

    End of rant….sigh.

  5. This is why I budget per paycheck. I get paid every 2 weeks, and 'prepay' my bills into a reserve account in order to balance things. Right now everything is timed to hit on one check instead of spread between the two.

    Luckily I found a comfortable budget amount that works for each check (A and B, if you will) and yet it still leaves me with a buffer that I use for unexpected bills or expenses that wouldn't fit in normally.

    I have never even tried to do a monthly budget for several reasons:

    -who can remember back that far?
    -'monthly' is in no way related to my bi-weekly paychecks, leading to these problems. It seems like a bad idea to swim against the current in this way.
    -the budget gets reset more often which results in several things, including more psychological wins over the year
    -2 weeks is a much easier time frame to think about when you are trying to either not spend in one category, or run out early on and have to survive without. Sometimes our entertainment or miscellaneous budget gets shot in the first weekend, which means we only have 1 cheap weekend to go until everything is reset.
    -the amounts are smaller, and therefore more psychologically manageable. This helps prevent the previous issue from happening.

    Financially, I have 26 cycles per year instead of 12 months. Yes, it makes more work (as in, I have to log into my bank account a min of 26 times a year instead of a min of 12), but it is mentally much more simple.

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