Struggling to stick to a monthly budget (or even make one in the first place)? Consider creating a biweekly budget instead.
If you get paid every two weeks (or twice a month), it may be easier for you to manage your money this way, because it takes into account that no week of spending is ever the same. Some weeks you may be extra frugal and responsible, and other weeks you may have an unexpected expense or decide to treat yourself. If your budget is biweekly, it allows you to “start fresh”, mentally, sooner than a monthly budget does, and acknowledges that we should be more agile with our money.
This is one way to do it:
- Write down the typical amount of take-home pay on one paycheck.
- Go through your bank statements to find all of your fixed monthly expenses and divide each number by two: For example, rent/mortgage, car payment, loans, cable/internet, groceries, entertainment.
- Subtract the total number from your paycheck amount, and put that into a savings account. (You can also make biweekly payments to bills such as your credit card to get ahead of the due date.)
- Subtract any “goal” money, such as for your savings account or holiday fund (personally, I have a goal amount written in my planner so I remember to put money toward it), and put that in a different savings account.
- Whatever is left over is what you have to spend for the next two weeks.
Following this template, you’re accounting for 24 paychecks over the course of a year. If you get paid biweekly, you’ll actually get 26 checks each year. You can save the “bonus” checks, or use them to pay off debt or put toward your mortgage.
It also allows you to put aside money ahead of time for larger bills and goals as opposed to using one paycheck as, say, your “rent” check, and trying to make the other one stretch throughout the entire month.
There are other ways to do this – You Need a Budget, for example, suggests taking out all of your fixed expenses (such as rent and your car payment) from the first paycheck of the month, so that you can use the second paycheck more fluidly. But it all comes down to managing your money in a way that makes sense to you.