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!