If you get paid every two weeks, then 4 times a year you actually get 3 paychecks in the month instead of 2. If your first two paychecks are sufficient to cover your bills, then that 3rd paycheck almost becomes like a bonus. But how can you use it wisely?
So here are 8 things you can do to make that extra paycheck really make a difference.
Create an emergency fund
If you have no emergency savings, take the extra pay and stow it away for a rainy day. Many times we get ourselves into credit card debt because we are unprepared when Murphy comes calling. You know that guy Murphy? If it can go wrong it will and always at the worst possible time. Life happens to us all. Things break. Accidents happen. If you have an emergency fund to cover these bumps in the road then emergencies move from a crisis to an inconvenience. Ideally, you should have 3 to 6 months of income saved away. If you aren’t there using those extra pays to beef up your savings is a great way to make sure the extra pays are a blessing.
Pay off a debt
Do you have credit card debt? A car loan? Student loan debt? Medical debts? Use the debt snowball to list those debts from smallest to largest and use that extra pay to start knocking off some of those small ones.
Save for Christmas
Christmas is just around the corner. What if you saved that extra pay and used it to pay cash for Christmas? Wouldn’t it feel great to enjoy the holiday knowing that you weren’t facing 6 more months of payments as you try to pay off all you charged for Christmas? You can do it by saving for Christmas ahead of time.
Save for non-monthly expenses
Home owners insurance. Some utilities like water, sewer, and garbage. Taxes. Subscriptions. Membership fees. Birthday gifts. Auto registration.
These are just some of the items that are non-monthly expenses. These kinds of expenses used to really kill my budget because I hadn’t planned for them. Now I set aside a little each month to cover these non-monthly expenses so that when they come I am ready. You could use those extra paychecks to build up some savings on the side to cover these non-monthly expenses.
Save for a car
Most people believe the lie that you will always have a car payment. I know I did for much of my life.
The problem is the average new car payment in the US is just under $500 a month. I am convinced that car payments are one of the primary things that keeps most average families from ever making any financial progress.
But the reality is you really can save up and pay cash for a car. It just takes a little planning. How about saving those extra payments in a car fund. What would it feel like to walk into the car dealer and lay down cash to buy your next car?
Make an extra mortgage payment
What if you used one of those extra pays to make an extra mortgage payment each year? Did you know that by making one extra mortgage payment each year, you can shave 7 years off a 30 year mortgage?
Use some of that extra money to support a local ministry that is close to your heart. Help support a missionary that your church sponsors. Help out a neighbor that just lost his job. Buy some groceries for a single mom. There are lots of ways you can use that extra pay to make a difference for the kingdom of God.
And lastly, it’s ok to use some of that money to buy something you have been wanting. There is nothing wrong with enjoying some of our hard-earned money. Just make sure you are also doing some other wise things with the money too.
Make your extra paychecks count
The key is to be intentional. The same principles apply to bonuses, inheritances, or any other found money. Make sure you have a plan. Without a plan the money will just disappear and you’ll wonder what happened to it. But if you have a plan, those extra paychecks can really help you jump-start some wise financial behaviors.