Woman smiling at desk with calendar.

How to Budget Biweekly Paycheck [2024]

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According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 43% of American workers receive their pay on a biweekly basis – meaning they get a paycheck every 2 weeks. 

If you’re part of that “biweekly brigade,” then I have a question for you: How are you setting up your budget? Because you might benefit from using biweekly budgets. After all, they’ll match your paycheck schedule.

In this article, I’ll walk you through the “how to budget biweekly paycheck” conversation. 

This is a strategy that can reduce spending and increase savings – which is just what you want from a budget!

What Is a Biweekly Budget?

A biweekly budget involves planning your spending in 2-week intervals. It’s a great strategy if you get paid every 2 weeks since you’ll know ahead of time how to divvy up each paycheck.

For lots of folks, switching to a biweekly budget makes financial planning a whole lot simpler. Gone are the days of calculating how much you’ll make on a monthly or annual basis. 

The only problem is that lots of bills are due every month. But don’t worry. It’s simple to find a solution! You can just assign certain bills to the month’s first paycheck and then assign other bills to the month’s second paycheck. 

If you get paid every 2 weeks, then your cashflow already operates at a biweekly rhythm. Why not create a budget that operates the same way?

Monthly income and spending reports on the Rocket Money app.
Try using a personal finance app like Rocket Money to learn how to budget biweekly paycheck.
Source: Rocket Money

How Does a Biweekly Budget Work?

If you’re searching the internet for “how to budget biweekly paycheck,” then you’ve probably heard of biweekly budgeting – but you might be a bit fuzzy on the details.

Well, let me explain!

The basic idea of the biweekly budget is that you plan your spending in 2-week chunks. That’s where the “bi” in “biweekly” comes from. Why 2 weeks? Because that’s how often many people receive their paychecks.

So when your paycheck comes, you’ll know exactly where all the money is going. It could look something like this: Ah, $2,200. Perfect! $100 for the water bill, $900 for rent, $500 set aside as savings, and $1,500 to spend!

And then, that “$1,500 to spend” could be broken down into smaller categories to make your budget even more precise. 

The main issue with a biweekly budget is that not all expenses occur on a biweekly basis. In fact, lots of bills and payments are due monthly. That’s not a deal-breaker, but it does make things a bit more complicated.

People solve this problem by assigning each monthly payment to a specific 2-week period (and to a specific paycheck). That way, you’ll basically place monthly expenses into your biweekly time scale.

You can also put your savings strategy on a 2-week schedule. How? One option is to try the biweekly money saving challenge.

How To Budget Biweekly Paycheck

Biweekly budgets are meant to simplify your finances – but that doesn’t mean they create themselves. To adopt this new strategy, you’ll have to take some basic steps.

So, here’s how to budget biweekly paycheck and improve your financial health in the process.

1. Make a List of Your Monthly Expenses

Before you can decide how to break up your biweekly paychecks, you need to figure out exactly where your money is going. 

There are two types of expenses you should account for:

  1. Fixed expenses (which you pay consistently, often on a monthly basis)
  2. Variable expenses (which change month to month)

Fixed expenses usually include:

  • Rent or mortgage payments
  • Car payments
  • Loan payments
  • Insurance premiums
  • Childcare
  • Subscriptions (streaming services, gym memberships, etc.)

Common variable expenses include:

  • Groceries
  • Clothes
  • Home repairs
  • Auto repairs
  • Restaurant meals
  • Entertainment
  • Expenses related to hobbies 
  • Medical bills

For the fixed expenses, you should be able to determine exactly how much you spend each month. But for the variable expenses, you’ll have to find an average. You can do this by looking through bank or credit card statements and calculating average monthly expenditures. 

And of course, you might not want to build your budget around how much you’re currently spending. The goal is to save more money, right? Look for places where you could cut your spending back a bit, and then write down how much you’d like to spend in each category. 

2. Decide How Much You Want to Save

If you’re wondering how to budget biweekly paycheck, then your goal is probably to save some money. That’s why you should factor regular savings into your actual budget. 

So, before getting into the nitty-gritty of creating your budget, decide how much of your income you’d like to save. 

There’s no magic percentage of earnings that everyone should set aside. Ultimately, it depends on your goals and financial situation. 

Are you making a lot of money, and do you have relatively few expenses? In that case, you should aim to save a decent chunk of your paycheck – maybe up to 50%. But if you’re struggling just to make ends meet, then there’s nothing wrong with setting a more modest savings objective.

3. Create a Calendar for Paychecks and Expenses

The biggest challenge in the “how to budget biweekly paycheck” discussion is the fact that you need to sync a biweekly plan with lots of monthly expenses. But you can overcome this challenge with a remarkably simple tool: a calendar!

Any old calendar would do, but if you prefer a digital calendar, that’s 100% okay. Just find what works for you!

Once you have your calendar, mark the dates of your coming paychecks (along with the expected amount). Then, mark your various bills and payments (along with the approximate cost). 

This will give you a clear visual of money coming in and going out. 

4. Plan Two Biweekly Budgets for the Month

This is the heart of the “how to budget biweekly paycheck” conversation – the part where you actually make your spending plan! 

You can use a piece of paper, a digital spreadsheet, or a special budgeting app like YNAB or Rocket Money. Again, it’s a matter of personal preference.

  • Rocket Money manages subscriptions and cancels unwanted ones.
  • Receive financial breakdowns and alerts for spending.
  • Utilize autopilot savings and concierge services for financial assistance.
  • Access credit reports, lower bills, automate budgeting, and track net worth.

Start by looking at your next incoming paycheck, which should be visible on your handy-dandy calendar. List the expected income at the start of the page or spreadsheet. This is the money you have available to spend or save over the following 2 weeks.

Then, look for the fixed payments that fall during that 2-week period. List these payments on the budget (meaning you’re “assigning” them to that particular paycheck).

Next, list the money that you want to save during the 2-week period. These are funds that you should move into a high-yield savings account or investment portfolio (learn about the best way to invest money).

Then, list the various “variable payment” categories along with how much you plan to spend on each of them during the 2-week period. This is where the goal-setting comes in. List amounts that are realistic while also keeping you disciplined.

At the end of this process you should have a plan for the entire paycheck, with each dollar going toward fixed payments, variable payments, or savings. 

Do the same thing for the second paycheck, and you’ll have created your first month’s worth of biweekly budgets!

5. Account for Non-Monthly Expenses

Not all expenses fall neatly into a biweekly or monthly schedule. What about college tuition? Or unexpected medical bills? Or annual vacations?

Don’t worry; these expenses don’t totally throw off the “how to budget biweekly paycheck” discussion. You just have to make sure you’re planning for them, too.

Here’s what I recommend: Create a special savings account for non-monthly expenses (or note that a certain portion of your general savings is earmarked for this purpose).

Let’s say you’ve got a trip planned for Puerto Rico. 

When setting aside money for savings, keep in mind that, say, $1,500 of that money will eventually be used for the trip. Will spending that money keep you from meeting your ultimate financial goals? Then adjust accordingly – either by canceling the trip or by tightening your belt and cutting some variable expenses from your biweekly budget so you can save a higher percentage of each paycheck.

6. Constantly Monitor Your Progress

Setting up your budget is definitely the hardest part. And if you’re reading an article on “how to budget biweekly paycheck,” you’re probably starting from scratch.

But even after that initial job is done, you still have a lot of work ahead of you.

A budget is only worthwhile if you stick to it. The idea here is to build sound financial habits. And the only way to make sure those habits are taking hold is by monitoring your progress.

Are you saving as much as you’d planned? Are you staying within your spending limits for different categories? Are you accounting for all expenses in your budget planning? If you’re not answering these questions, there’s no way to know whether your budget is actually successful.

Luckily, you don’t have to do all this work on your own. There are budgeting apps that can help you track your spending and meet your goals. Rocket Money is one of my favorites – and you can learn more by reading this Rocket Money review.

  • Rocket Money manages subscriptions and cancels unwanted ones.
  • Receive financial breakdowns and alerts for spending.
  • Utilize autopilot savings and concierge services for financial assistance.
  • Access credit reports, lower bills, automate budgeting, and track net worth.

Is a Biweekly Budget Worth It?

A biweekly budget is worth it for anyone who receives a paycheck every 2 weeks. It will simplify the budgeting process, allowing you to spend (and save) money as you receive it.

The biweekly budget also forces you to pay closer attention to how you’re spending your money. With a standard monthly budget, some of your income can get lost in the shuffle. But with a biweekly budget, you’re making a plan for every dollar you earn.

Is it a lot of work? Yeah, sometimes. But that’s kind of the point. 

If you’re someone who wants to budget but tends to slack off, the biweekly budget could be exactly what you need to keep you disciplined. 

The biweekly budget is also a great option for anyone who really wants to boost their savings. The more precisely you plan and limit your spending, the more money you should be able to set aside.

And here’s the thing about the money you’ve saved: You can often make it grow. How? By investing it! 

You can also use digital resources to invest your savings and grow your wealth. Acorns and Fierce are fantastic options that practically put the investing process on autopilot. 

Check out this Fierce Finance app review to see what’s so great about the platform. 

An investment projection on the Acorn app.
Acorns is a personal finance app where you can invest your savings from a biweekly budget. 
Source: Apple App Store

Pros and Cons of a Biweekly Budget

Now I’ve answered the “how to budget biweekly paycheck” question, but there’s another question you might be asking: Is this strategy even a good idea? 

It is, but it brings some complications, too. Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of using a biweekly budgeting system. 

Pros

  • Your budget will match your pay schedule. Do you get your paycheck every 2 weeks? Then this could be the budget that makes the most sense for you.
  • You’ll pay closer attention to your finances. With the biweekly budget, you’ll make 2 budgets a month instead of 1, which means your finger will be on the pulse of your spending.
  • You can adjust your budget quickly. If you don’t like the way you’ve allocated your money, you can change course with your very next paycheck.

Cons

  • It can take time to set up. You’ll have to coordinate biweekly paychecks with monthly payments, which requires some playing around with a calendar. 
  • Some months have 3 paychecks – which disrupts the pattern. This isn’t a big deal, but you should find a way to use that extra paycheck appropriately – like saving or investing it. 
  • It can be hard to account for one-time expenses. You’ll have to find creative ways to work the expenses from vacations and medical emergencies into your biweekly budget. Saving that occasional 3rd monthly paycheck can help. 

Commonly Asked Questions About How to Budget Biweekly Paycheck

How Do You Budget When Paid Biweekly? 

There’s a simple answer to the “how to budget biweekly paycheck” question: Create a biweekly budget! That means you’ll plan your spending in 2-week chunks, assigning monthly expenses to one of the 2 paychecks you’ll receive most months.

How Much Should I Save If I Get Paid Biweekly?

Financial experts often suggest saving 20% of your paycheck. But you can adjust that rule according to your goals and financial situation. Struggling to get by? Feel free to choose a more realistic goal. Making bank? Then get a bit more ambitious with your savings. 

What To Do When You Get a Third Paycheck? 

You should use a third paycheck to fortify your finances. That means something different for everyone – but in general, smart strategies include paying off debt, adding to an emergency fund, contributing to a retirement account, and investing.   

How Do You Live on a Biweekly Paycheck?

You can live on a biweekly paycheck by adopting a biweekly budget. That means you’ll create a spending-and-saving plan for every paycheck you receive. You’ll use one paycheck for some monthly expenses and the next paycheck for others.

What Is The 50 30 20 Rule of Money?

The 50 30 20 rule calls for putting 50% of your income toward “needs,” 30% toward “wants,” and 20% toward savings. It’s a great strategy for anyone who wants to start saving money while continuing to meet existing obligations. 

And if you’re looking to really buckle down and save as much money as you can as quickly as possible, check out the 60/30/10 rule budget

Biweekly Budget App?

There are some awesome budgeting apps that can help you maintain a biweekly budget, including Rocket Money and YNAB. Rocket Money is especially useful because it will also help you manage your subscriptions.

  • Rocket Money manages subscriptions and cancels unwanted ones.
  • Receive financial breakdowns and alerts for spending.
  • Utilize autopilot savings and concierge services for financial assistance.
  • Access credit reports, lower bills, automate budgeting, and track net worth.

To learn which budgeting app could best help you manage your finances and boost your savings, check out these comparisons of Rocket Money vs the competition:

Then use a net worth tracker to see how your new financial strategies are paying off. 

How To Save Money on a Biweekly Paycheck?

You can save money on a biweekly paycheck by creating a biweekly budget. Instead of budgeting on a monthly basis, plan your spending in 2-week chunks that match up with your paychecks. This should help you spend less and save more. 

It also pays to find out which savings account will earn you the most money