Everyone loves payday, especially those that account for their hard-earned money! If you’re noticing that the money buzz is pretty short-lived, it may be time to implement some good payday habits to help keep your finances in check. Keep scrolling for some smart tips on how to make the most of each paycheck.
Build a budget
This is *the* most important step to making the most of each paycheck, so if you haven’t built your budget yet, now’s the time! Check out some handy budgeting apps (Rocket Money is a great option!), and get it done!
Start with zero
The first thing you should do when you get paid? Transfer all of your leftover money from the previous check elsewhere. You can transfer it to savings, your investments or even apply it to a credit card balance. This step isn’t for everyone, but if you’re in this situation when you get paid, it can definitely help you in the long term.
Check your accounts
If you’re almost exclusively cashless, your checking account is probably littered with small-dollar expenses. This also increases your chances of experiencing fraud or duplicate/unexpected charges. It may be a little too overwhelming to check this once a month, so make it a habit to do a weekly or biweekly scan to be sure you recognize all of your charges. This is also a smart way to ensure you’re not paying for any subscriptions you’re not using! Many banks and credit card companies are also offering new automatic account alerts, so check your notification settings to see if this can be automated.
Review your check
Mistakes happen, so review your payslip to check your deductions, retirement contributions, benefits, etc. We often take for granted that everything is presumably fine, but making sure there aren’t any big variances is important. This step also helps you know if you need to change your benefits, retirement contributions or withholdings.
Every dollar has a job
Not all good payday habits work for everyone, but one that everyone can benefit from is “zero-based” budgeting. When you get paid, find a job for every dollar earned. Generally, savings and investment payments should come first. But if you’re having to dedicate more to a higher cost of living, then start with bills. If anything is left over, consider it “fun money”: funds that are allocated toward smaller spending goals. You could also elect to put a portion toward any debt or unplanned expenses.
Split up your bills
If you get paid biweekly and find that your end-of-the-month check disappears by the time the weekend arrives, it may be best to split your larger bills. For example, split your rent/mortgage or any other large bills in half — one half on the first-of-the-month check and the other on the 15th of the month. You may find this is much more manageable.
Stick to your routine
Remember: these good payday habits only work if you’re consistent! Set aside 15-20 minutes before each payday to create a roadmap, look at your budget and do anything else you need before your check arrives. You’ll find that if you stay committed and motivated, these steps will become a habit that will strengthen your finances over time.
PSA: Saving money doesn’t involve completely locking down your credit cards and checking account. Read our favorite sneaky ways to save money!
Allison Wheeler is a writer, Bruce Springsteen enthusiast, and sixth-generation Texan living in Denton, Texas.