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Who doesn’t want free money?
Let’s face it, pretty much everyone wants more money. It can help you get out of debt faster, pay your bills on time, save for vacation or retirement, or finally upgrade your wardrobe.
What would you say if I told you that you already have access to free money? Would you believe me?
The true magic of living on a budget surfaces twice a year when the planets and stars align, and there are three pay days in one month.
Let’s talk about the beauty of the ever elusive three paycheck month and how you can use this free money to turn your finances around!
Learning to Budget
I first discovered the magic of a three paycheck month in 2013, which also happened to be the first time I started budgeting. In case you’re wondering, it was no coincidence.
Before I got myself on a budget, I had no idea how much money I made each month, or how much I spent. This was a huge disadvantage for successfully managing my money. When you live on a budget, you put yourself in a position to find extra money just laying around. I’m not even joking about that.
The first couple months of tracking my expenses and entering my spending into a spreadsheet was pretty exhilarating. I know that sounds nerdy, but when I get into something, I tend to go all in. I decided to start a budget and went all out.
I read all kinds of blogs and articles on how to set one up from scratch, I downloaded apps to help me track my spending, and I talked about it to anyone who would listen.
You may not feel the same excitement about budgeting, but to experience the joy of extra paychecks requires you to use a budget to track your expenses.
Most standard budgets operate with two paychecks to cover all expenses. If you’re looking to start a budget, this is a great approach since every month has two paychecks. If you feel overwhelmed or don’t know how to create a budget, you can download my free budgeting course. 😉
Opening My Eyes to Discover Free Money
I suppose you want to hear about the free money I promised. The first person to mention 3 paycheck months was my wife Jenna shortly after we started dating.
We started budgeting together very early in our relationship so money talks were pretty common for us. One month Jenna got really excited because she got three paychecks, which meant free money!
I was really confused at first. I’d been getting paid every two weeks for as long as I could remember, and I never seemed to have extra money. If fact, I never seemed to have ENOUGH money. Could I really have been missing out?
If you get paid every two weeks, you have access to free money too! But if you’re not on a budget, you probably don’t even realize it.
Making Plans for Extra Paychecks
Once I discovered I had free money in my budget, I was excited to put it to good use.
I like to plan ahead, and as a result mark every payday in my calendar. This allows me to look ahead and mark three paycheck months. In 2018, this will be March and August. This works out extremely well since our baby is due at the start of March, so we’ll be able to cover any extra baby expenses and my wife’s reduced maternity leave pay.
If you’re on the opposite pay cycle, your three paycheck months will be June and November.
Since our budget operates monthly, with two paychecks to cover all of our expenses, our third paychecks are 100% extra money. We don’t need this money at all to cover our monthly expenses. It’s really important to make a plan for this money or you will spend it without realizing you even had it, like I used to.
How We Spend Our Extra Paychecks
How you spend your extra paycheck depends entirely on your current priorities and goals. We’ve used this money in so many ways, and have experienced so much goodness and blessings.
We Made Extra Payments to Our Student Loans
Extra paychecks were one of the biggest accelerators to become debt free. Whenever these months rolled around, it was like pouring gasoline on a fire. We made a huge lump sum payment of a couple thousand dollars and excitedly calculated how much closer we were to being debt free.
Extra paychecks were crucial to helping us pay off $73,000 in less than four years.
We Added to Our Vacation Fund
When we got married, we planned a delayed honeymoon to Mexico, and a 5 year anniversary trip to Ireland. Sadly these vacations wouldn’t pay for themselves, so we were diligent to save money to make them realities. In addition to contributing extra money to student loan payments, we tucked extra money aside in our savings account.
We never put an entire extra paycheck toward vacations, but felt it important to save a couple hundred extra dollars with our third paychecks.
We Saved Money to Buy a House
Ever since we got married, we dreamed of buying a house and starting a family. However, we needed to pay off our student loans first. Once we got within a year of being debt free, we started focusing more attention on buying a house.
I probably don’t need to tell you this, but buying a house is expensive and requires a good amount of money down. We came drastically short of our goal of 20%, like Dave Ramsey recommends, but had a solid 5% and got an incredible interest rate due to our good credit.
We focused two extra paycheck months entirely on our house savings. That helped us save over $3,000 in addition to our other savings!
Are You Ready to Take Advantage of Extra Paychecks and Start Finding Free Money?
If you’ve been avoiding starting a budget, now is the time to suck it up and get cracking. With the help of your new budget, you can utilize extra paychecks and find free money to achieve your financial goals. Your debt won’t stand a chance!
Let me Know in the Comments!
Have you experienced that magic of extra paychecks? Do you need a budget spreadsheet to help you get started? Click the button below to start finding free money!
Our budget and goals changed our lives. I hope it can change yours too.
As an Educator and Personal Finance Blogger, Jamie has helped hundreds of families learn how to budget, save money, and pay off debt (go here to subscribe and start your debt free journey). Read our debt free story, “How We Paid Off $73,000 of Debt in Less Than Four Years”.