Paycheque frequency: what’s your preference?

Ever known anyone who, upon getting a new job, freaked out after finding out the company works on a monthly pay cycle?

I get that budgeting is a deeply personal thing and managing your finances when money is coming in on a relatively infrequent basis can be tough. It seems that as a rule, most of us would prefer to be paid more frequently (in smaller amounts, obviously) whenever possible.

At a previous job, one colleague learned that most of us were getting paid on a fortnightly basis, and after finding out, tried to negotiate with HR to get on the same cycle. Given that this was months and months after said colleague had joined the company, the answer was unsurprisingly no (if you’ve coped that long, you can keep coping!). I’m not sure how this works as a general rule – most companies, especially smaller ones, operate on one single pay frequency, but this particular organisation had a lot of unionised employees and as a result, pay cycles for different staff ranged from weekly to fortnightly to monthly.

I’ve been paid on pretty much every kind of cycle there is over the years (including monthly in arrears for mystery shopping assignments – always fun) and I’m pretty confident I could cope with any pay frequency today.

Here’s a little rundown of my pay vs rent (my biggest expense) history

  • Weekly pay / weekly rent
  • Fortnightly pay / weekly rent
  • Fortnightly pay / fortnightly rent (on opposite weeks!)
  • Monthly pay / fortnightly rent
  • Monthly pay/ weekly rent

Every new adjustment took a little bit of work. But eventually, I got used to it and made it work, largely because I like to operate on a weekly cycle. Even when rent wasn’t weekly, groceries, petrol, etc still were. Every pay day I transfer my money into my savings account, then transfer out money in weekly increments to cover that week’s outgoings. (And because rent is pretty much never paid monthly by anyone in New Zealand, I don’t get these ‘bonus’ paycheques in the two five-week months of the year that you Americans always go on about. Sadface.)

If I had the choice, I honestly don’t know what my preference would be today. Ideally, I guess it would be one that matched up with my rent payments – aligning your income with your biggest expense is always handy.

How often do you get paid?

26 thoughts on “Paycheque frequency: what’s your preference?

  • Reply Vanessa March 22, 2013 at 08:02

    Seeing as you have to pay rent weekly, I’d imagine that that’s why it’s the most popular option (I also find the weekly rent thing to be so, so strange).

    Personally, I like being paid weekly because I get to update my spreadsheets and savings accounts etc. more frequently. Once I dropped down to fortnightly I noticed that my attention to my financial accounting waned — out of sight, out of mind, I guess

  • Reply krantcents March 22, 2013 at 09:00

    Currently, I am paid monthly. In the past I have been paid weekly, biweekly and semimonthly. I like semimonthly the best because it paid me currently. I was paid through the date paid.

  • Reply Just One Boomer (Suzanne) March 22, 2013 at 09:50

    From a budgeting perspective, one has to be disciplined about covering bills, no matter the schedule on which one is paid. However, when workers are paid monthly, the truth is that your employer gets the use of more of your money by making you wait longer after you have earned it to actually receive it. The converse is true if you pay rent weekly. Since most monthly rent payers pay a month ahead, if you pay by the week, you keep the use of your money longer. (Back in the day, one could actually earn enough bank interest on savings that this could make a significant difference. Now, not so much).

    Although it is not exactly the topic of this post, here’s another piece of unsolicited advice from a semi-retired Baby Boomer. Try to live below your means. Don’t live up to your income — or even worse, up to your credit limit.

  • Reply SavvyFinancialLatina March 22, 2013 at 10:08

    To me it doesn’t matter as long as get paid on a periodic basis. We have good cash flow and always have money to cover our expenses.

  • Reply Mrs. Pop @ Planting Our Pennies March 22, 2013 at 10:15

    Most of the jobs I’ve had have either been bi-weekly or semi-monthly. Personally it makes no difference to me at all.

  • Reply snarkfinance March 22, 2013 at 10:39

    I prefer monthly. My first job out of college paid monthly and it simplified all my budgeting tremendously. I paid all bills right off the bat, made all auto investments afterwards, and then the remaining portion was “fun” money. Easy as pie. No variations in odd weeks, no “stretch periods”. i wish I could go back to it.

  • Reply Tony@WeOnlyDoThisOnce March 22, 2013 at 10:43

    The main drag is when it fluctuates, or when our expenditures fluctuate. Once a routine is established, most cycles tend to work. Great post!

  • Reply American Debt Project March 22, 2013 at 10:44

    You know what I would like is to be paid daily, like a settling of accounts at the end of every day :). My best friend is a teacher who gets paid a full year salary in 10 months, and they are paid once a month. That would be tough for me. I like biweekly much better than the 15th and the last day of the month, it always felt so irregular, you never felt like you were getting paid on time, although at least you always had money for the end of the month bills.

  • Reply CashRebel March 22, 2013 at 11:07

    I get paid 26 times per year, and of have to say that it’s always a nice surprise on those 5topics week months. I also think it helps people who are bad at saving because they get an unexpected boost. Since my cash cushion is so large, I really don’t care when I get paid. It’d all good

  • Reply mochimac March 22, 2013 at 13:05

    Monthly, as I invoice monthly.

    I tend not to worry about that income cycle part now, I just have cash on hand.

  • Reply Theresa March 22, 2013 at 13:41

    I got paid monthly once and once only in my career, when I worked in London, and it was hooooorible. After paying rent and bills, by the end of the month I hardly had any money left. Of course, I wasn’t nearly as good as not spending money as I am now, but it was hard.

    Fortnightly is the way to go, yes ma’am! So much easier to save!

  • Reply Cassie March 22, 2013 at 14:16

    I prefer biweekly, but that’s also likely because I’ve never been paid on any other schedule. It’s also convenient, because my mortgage comes out biweekly as well.

  • Reply Tushar @ Everything Finance March 22, 2013 at 15:47

    I’ve always been a fan of biweekly pay periods, because then we get the extra pay period a year -sometimes too. If you get used to budgeting biweekly, it’s like a nice little bonus. But that’s just what I’m used to.

  • Reply KK @ Student Debt Survivor March 22, 2013 at 16:16

    Same as cash rebel, I’m paid 26 times per year. At first I didn’t like it because my checks are slightly smaller compared to being paid 2 times per month, but it doesn’t really matter now because I have a pretty good sized savings account.

  • Reply Stephanie March 23, 2013 at 05:00

    Perhaps I am the oddball of the people commenting on your blog, but for me, money is not an issue, and has never been an issue. I don’t have any habits that consume lots of money and regularly save 30-40 percent of what I make and have a lot of savings. As a result, I have no preference how often I get paid, as long as they’ve got some sort of direct deposit. Otherwise, I prefer to get paid monthly so that I can make fewer trips to the bank.

  • Reply The Norwegian Girl March 23, 2013 at 06:58

    I`ve never heard of weekly pay in Norway, here everything is monthly. monthly pay, monthly rent, monthly bills. It is difficult though, making money last an entire month, but you get really good at budgeting!

  • Reply Michelle March 23, 2013 at 15:18

    When my finances were a hot mess it was really helpful to have a biweekly pay period. Or, when I was working two jobs and getting paid every week it was even better. I have been paid monthly for the past 7 years so I am used to it now. My cash flow is better too so I don’t feel anxious about when I’m getting paid.

  • Reply The Asian Pear March 23, 2013 at 17:37

    I’ve been paid weekly and now bi-weekly. I prefer every 2 weeks than every week. Before it was due to my chequeing account having a limited number of transactions, but my new bank doesn’t. I still prefer every 2 weeks as it gives me time to figure where the money’s coming and going. And pay day is a day to reevaluate.

  • Reply Linda March 24, 2013 at 02:23

    I’ve never been paid less than bi-weekly for any job I’ve worked in 30 years. As a receptionist, gas station cashier, department store gift wrapper, etc, etc, I always got a paycheck every two weeks. I get paid 26 times per year in my current job, which results in those nice little “bonus months” every once in a while. Even better is those last one or two paychecks of the year where I’ve already maxed out the required Medicare tax, and get super-sized paychecks! 🙂

  • Reply Funny about Money March 26, 2013 at 04:40

    When the Great Desert University switched from monthly to biweekly (“fortnightly”: so much better, since “biweekly” actually means twice a week…), we were told how great it was going to be that we would get those two “extra” paychecks a year. Give me a break! What it really meant was a pay cut in the other ten months a year. It also meant the university could bank and earn interest on the accruing money owed to employees.

    Also, the outfit the university hired to manage payroll had a “lagging pay” system, meaning we were always a week or two behind on pay. This made it easier for them to short people who were laid off.

    After a bit, I learned to live on the reduced pay. I put the so-called “extra” checks into savings — good thing, too, since that money went a long way toward supporting me post-layoff.

  • Reply Kasey March 26, 2013 at 10:36

    I was always paid twice a month and it worked out great as my bills are due every month on the same day. Now I am paid every two weeks and am struggling to make it work
    . digging-my-way-out

  • Reply Leigh March 26, 2013 at 13:58

    I’m paid monthly. My mortgage and most of my other bills are monthly as well, so it works out really well. I’ve been paid biweekly and semimonthly in the past, but this is definitely my favorite. A nice lump sum once a month and then I can divvy it out however I feel like with minimal interaction really required from me to make my system’s wheels turn nicely.

    I’ve always paid rent monthly though, same with all my bills. I guess groceries are sort of weekly except that some weeks are more expensive than others, so it does sort of even out throughout the month. My electricity bill is by the day, so I do budget that based on the number of days in the month and it’s bimonthly, but everything else is a fixed-ish amount per month.

  • Reply My Money Design March 28, 2013 at 05:33

    I think I’ve always just gone with getting paid every two weeks. Anything other than that would just feel weird 🙂

  • Reply Sarah March 28, 2013 at 13:45

    I’ve been paid weekly and I’ve been paid monthly, and I much prefer monthly. All my bills are monthly, so I have it set up that they all go out on the same day my pay goes in. At the same time a bit gets swiped into my savings, and the rest is for spending on whatever. Saves me the bother of budgeting.

  • Reply Steven J Fromm April 1, 2013 at 05:20

    It should not matter if you have got your finances in order. But for many with such a bad economy, bi-weekly is the best way to go and more frequently if they are in bad financial shape.

  • Reply Mac @ financecareservices.com October 12, 2017 at 20:03

    If we choose monthly, it will better for us and we can save some extra expenses. My rent and other bills are monthly and it is fine for me. Thanks!

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