The dreaded third pay check

For those of us that get paid every two weeks, we face an epic battle, that others do not. For us, managing a budget is no easy task. Ten months of the year, things are just fine, but when March and October come around, my whole world turns upside down…I get an extra paycheck.

Although it is definitely a good problem to have, it does make things more difficult than other payment plans. We are really left with two options…

We can break up the two extra paychecks, by twelve, and calculate that in to our online budget app. Say for example you get $2K every two weeks. That means 10 months of the year your income will be $4K, but for two months it will be $6K. You can take the extra $4K (from the two extra paychecks) and divide that by twelve, this gives you $333. For budgeting purposes, you can average your monthly pay to be $4,333. In my opnion this method sucks. It’s a lot of work, a lot of planning, and a waste of time.

I subscribe to the “Booya, extra money” budgeting plan. Instead of breaking up my extra two paychecks over the entire calender year, I simply pretend they don’t exist. If I get $2K every two weeks, then I budget my cash flow around a $4K monthly income. When the time comes for the extra paycheck, I get to do with it what I want. Why? Because I have established spending habits around a $4K income.

If you haven’t noticed…it’s October, which means I’ll have an extra $1,500 coming my way. Perhaps I will buy 1,500 McChickens, maybe I’ll give it away to one of my lucky readers, but most likely I will contribute to my Roth IRA or pay down my student loan. Ah, the life of being a frugal ninja 🙂 I know there are others that get paid every two weeks. What method do you use? Is there a third option I haven’t thought of?

I’m a hypocrite

Yes it’s true. Full disclosure, I’m a big freakin’ hypocrite. I preach the wonders of living on a budget, when in reality, I pretty much don’t. Maybe this makes me a terrible person to go to for financial insight, but I think it just makes me normal. Let’s face it, we all compromise a little bit on financially sound principles every now and then. Even the Dave Ramsey “rice and beans” fanatics dine out occasionally, when that money could have been put towards paying down debt. See, I’m not so bad after all.

Just because I don’t live by a budget, doesn’t mean that I am a reckless spender. Actually it’s quite the opposite, I’m a frugal mother lover. I think my frugality fills in as my quasi-budget. If you have been tracking my expenses, you know that I have a dining out/grocery goal of being under $250 each month. If you really pay attention you will notice I’m almost always under that amount.

My budget may say that I have allocated $250 in spending this month, but I rarely restrict myself from doing something I want because “It’s not in my budget.” I guess what I’m trying to communicate is: A budget (to me) is a lifestyle and not necessarily a set of defined parameters. If I live in a way that reflects my ultimate goal of being debt free and owning a home, I don’t have to count pennies. All I have to do is make as many smart spending choices as possible and do my best to minimize any stupid ones.

So now I’m curious. To those who have a budget: Does it determine all of your decisions? How often do you track your spending to make sure you are within your limits? Am I a crappy financial blogger for saying that I don’t really use my budget that often? I guess this is just another area where I resist the financial norm, and make things personal.

This is the way I live…

So if you are poking around this page that means you’re like me and you like knowing other people’s financial situations. I guess I really have no problem letting people ask questions about my money. Call me crazy, but if you are looking at this article than you have at least SOME interest also.

So here is how this little gem work…

  • INCOME pretty self explanatory. This is my monthly pay from my current job. If you have read my other posts, than you know I also tutor to make some spare change. I decided I didn’t want to include this in the income section of my budget as that income fluctuates each month and I did not want to build my spending habits around inconsistent income. I include the tutoring income at the bottom of the spreadsheet and I underestimate it for each month. I’ve been averaging $1,000 a month, but I still don’t want to change it’s current $500 value…I know that makes my budget less accurate, but less accurate in a good way right 🙂

  • INVESTMENTS, TAXES, and EXPENSES. Again, pretty straightforward so no real need to elaborate. I will mention, however, that I DO have health insurance, but since I am 23 I was able to stay on my parents plan (you know I’m gonna ride that out till I’m 25 and get kicked off their policy). I included a 5% increase section on my expenses because sometimes ‘ish happens (consider it like a mini-monthly emergency fund).

  • GOALS, BILLS, and PRIORITIES. The top right section is where I set out my financial goals on January 1 of each year. It starts with what I had in my accounts on 12/31/08 and I make assumptions as to what my accounts will look like come 12/31/09. The section below this is where I keep a list of my fixed monthly expenses…otherwise I’d be forgetting to pay that darn cable bill. And lastly, below that is where I list of the priority of all of my expenses. I did this so if I’m ever in a situation where a ninja stole all my money and I was fired from my job, I would know exactly how to spend each precious dollar that I had. Basically I put the most important bills at the top.

So that’s my life in a spreadsheet form. Hopefully it makes sense to you all, but if it doesn’t feel free to shoot an email or comment and I’ll let you know how it works.

Enjoy,