If you’re paid bi-weekly, then you’re probably familiar with the “magical” 3 paycheck months. Twice per year, you should receive an “extra paycheck” which sounds great when trying to make some progress on your debt.
But all may not be what it seems when it comes to the 3 paycheck months…
WHEN ARE THE 3 PAYCHECK MONTHS IN 2023?
Let me start by saying this: there are a lot of variables in determining when the three payment months fall. It largely depends on the specific day and week you are paid.
To pinpoint your 3 paycheck months, find your first payday of the year and go through your calendar, marking each pay date. Twice in the year you’ll discover months where you will have 3 pay days.
For 2023, let’s say you’re paid on Fridays. If you are paid the first week of January, your 3 paycheck months will be in March and September.
If you are paid the 2nd week of January, your 3 paycheck months will be in June and December.
WHAT IS THE 3 PAYCHECK MONTH?
The 3 paycheck month is a financial phenomenon that occurs when someone receives three paychecks in one month instead of the usual two.
This can happen for a variety of reasons, but most commonly it occurs in months with 31 days, like January or March. The extra paycheck can be a nice windfall, but it’s important to remember that it’s only temporary.
The 3 paycheck month is often used as an excuse to overspend, but doing so can put you in a difficult financial position when the next month rolls around and you’re back to your normal pay schedule.
Instead of using the three paycheck month as an opportunity to splurge, try to use it as a chance to save a bit extra or eliminate some debt. That way, you’ll be better prepared for the leaner months ahead.
THE CHALLENGE OF THE BI-WEEKLY PAY STRUCTURE
Look, I get it, you can’t control when you are paid. Extra paychecks sound amazing. But I personally can’t stand the bi-weekly paycheck system.
Simply put, it’s a pain in the butt when it comes to cash flow.
Let’s say you’re paid every other Friday. That means every 14 days you receive a paycheck. Unfortunately, we know that there are more than 28 days in most months.
That means you’re not paid on the same date every month. You might get a paycheck on the 1st one month, then the 5th, then the 10th, etc.
This can be a cashflow nightmare, especially if you have bills due on the 1st but your first check doesn’t come until the 10th.
Let’s look at it this way. Coming up soon, many of you will get paid 3 times (the 2nd, the 16th, and the 30th). Our brain immediately thinks “Jackpot! Extra paycheck!”
If we use the check on the 30th as our extra check, then we won’t receive a check in the following month until the 13th (which basically ruins that month).
So what should we do?
THE MORE RELIABLE WAYS TO GET EXTRA PAYCHECKS
SOLUTION #1: MARK YOUR CALENDARS
We know you should get 2 extra paychecks per year. Go through your calendar and decide which check will cover the first half of the month, and which check will cover the 2nd half of the month.
As you go through the calendar, you’ll find some times when it makes sense for you to get the bonus paycheck without throwing off your monthly budget. Mark these dates in your calendar so you’ll be prepared when they come up.
Here’s how to set up your calendar:
SOLUTION #2: TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR PAY
Another option (and my favorite) is to open another checking account.
This account is your “direct deposit account.” Its sole purpose is to hold your paycheck for you.
With this method, you would change your direct deposit at work to put your paychecks into this new account. Then, on the 1st and 15th of the month, transfer your check from the direct deposit account into your regular checking account.
This is you choosing your paydays. It helps with cash flow as you will always have money coming into your account on the 1st and 15th.
The best part? Twice per year when you go to transfer money from the direct deposit account to your main checking account, you’ll notice a surplus. That’s because you received your “extra paycheck.” You can take that excess cash and toss it on your date, put it in savings, or buy a new TV.
Here’s how to set up your calendar:
MORE TIPS TO GET AHEAD FINANCIALLY WITH YOUR EXTRA PAYCHECK
The three paycheck month can be a great opportunity to get ahead on your finances – if you know how to make the most of it. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your money during three paycheck months:
- Make a budget. This is crucial in any month, but especially important when you have three paychecks coming in. Knowing exactly where your money is going will help you avoid overspending and make the most of your extra income.
- Save, save, save. One of the best things you can do with a 3 paycheck month is to use it as an opportunity to beef up your savings account. Put away as much as you can into savings so that you have a cushion for unexpected expenses down the road.
- Use it to pay down debt. If you have high-interest debt, such as credit card debt, a 3 paycheck month is a great opportunity to make a dent in that balance. The more you can pay off now, the less interest you’ll accrue over time.
- Treat yourself! Just because you’re being extra mindful of your spending doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself a little bit. Use some of that extra money to treat yourself to something special – within reason, of course! A little bit of indulgence can go a long way toward keeping you on track financially.