The Pros And Cons Of Getting Paid Only Once Per Month

by Hank

One of my Soldiers recently changed his paycheck to receive only one payment per month instead of the standard two, the traditional paychecks of the first and the fifteenth. I even had forgotten that this was an option, and it is one that I think is only used by a few members of the military. While I do not personally use the one paycheck per month method of receiving a salary, nor do I recommend it, below are the benefits and negative aspects of such a decision.

The Drawbacks Of A Once A Month Paycheck

It takes discipline to budget your money for four weeks after only receiving a paycheck once a month. Many young people, like my young Soldier, cannot handle the responsibility. It is like a siren song when someone has money available in their pocket or bank account. For many, the urge to spend it is too great. This creates a real problem if you are not disciplined in your budget since certain big ticket items usually occur in both two week blocks of the month. You run the risk of finding yourself out of money by the 15th with no paycheck in sight for two weeks and a car payment looming.

What Can You Do To Help Ease The One Paycheck Pain

There are a few things that you can do to ensure that you do not run out of money towards the tail end of the month if you get paid only once a month. One great tip is to shift as many of your big budget items like your mortgage, credit card payments, car payment, insurance payment, and others to the first week of the month. Most banks and financial companies will let you decide on the due date if you are in good standing with them. After you have paid all of your bills in this manner, you will have a great sense of how much spending money you will have for the rest of the month. This alone could be a great budgeting tool for the miscellaneous category, mad money, and spending money portion of your monthly budget.

Have A Written Monthly Budget To Ease The One Paycheck Pain

Everyone should have a monthly budget, and every budget should be written down in advance. Financial planning guru and debt reduction expert Dave Ramsey says that every dollar that you receive from your paycheck needs to be allocated in advance and in writing. Every dollar needs to have a name. Many of mine say mortgage, car payment, insurance payment, and the like. But, there should be no confusion as to how much money is going to each job in your written budget. Having a written budget in this way will help you allocate your money whether you get paid once a month or twice.

The Benefits Of A Once A Month Paycheck

I am trying to think of the benefits of a once per month paycheck instead of the traditional two paychecks per month. And, I cannot think of a single one. Nothing good comes from getting paid once per month. Everyone should choose the twice monthly option.

Do you agree? Sell me on why you like getting paid only once a month? I’d love to debate it.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy December 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm

This is an interesting question. I wasn’t even aware of the option. We don’t live month to month, so I think the benefit of not running out of money isn’t really a benefit. In fact, I don’t see that as a benefit so much as a type of insurance against overspending for the undisciplined.

I initially thought it might be like giving the government a 2 week interest free loan, but since it’s a paycheck for the past month, that doesn’t really apply. The only benefit I could see would be in tracking spending versus amounts available in your account. With two paychecks, there is more up and down movement in amounts available, whereas with one paycheck, it should be easier to follow with one spike per month.

My wife and I put as many of our expenditures on a credit card as possible to take advantage of the cash rewards, then pay the balance off every month. If we know what balance will be coming out a few days after that paycheck arrives, less the amount we have budgeted for items we cannot put on the credit card each month, we know exactly how much “discretionary” money we have. We could then more easily add those amounts to investments, savings, or indulgences knowing precisely how much we have, rather than trying to hit a moving target.

I will actually have to give this quite a bit of thought as I think it could help us better allocate our monthly excess. Thanks for the info.

Michael December 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

The situation dictates when it would be a good time to choose whether a once a month or the tradition twice a month pay should be used. The majority of the Senior leadership of my company choose the once a month pay plan. I like this pay plan opposed to the twice a month because my bills are all paid on the 1st. Being paid once a month allows me to pay my bills all at once without being late and also gives me an oversight of how much will be left for savings and personal expenditures, like perishable and non-perishable items and going to the movies. Budgeting isn’t that hard when you understand that whatever is left after bills is all you have until the next month. This allows you to put aside how much to spend each week. Where as, when I was lower enlisted, I got paid twice a month. My bills were still paid on the 1st, but after paying my bills on the 1st, I would have almost no money left until the 15th. Also when you deploy, if you have a family it’s easier on them to get paid once a month to help eliminate the added stress of paying bills and running the chance of not money until the 15th after bills are paid. Since the Soldier is deployed and, at most times, unable to pay the bills, it now falls on the spouse to pay them. No one wants to leave their spouse in a situation where they maybe financially unstable after one paycheck and not the other. My personal opinion is that the once a month paycheck would be good for those senior in rank who know how to budget money and those Soldiers that are able to prove they can budget their money, whether it be going to a budget class or overall experience. I don’t think that a Soldier just entering the military should be using the once a month pay option until the Soldier shows that he/she can effectively budget money. As you can tell I’m in the US Army, if you are reading this and not in the Army, then please substitute Soldier for whatever service you are in. Hopefully my opinion has helped shed some light on the pros of getting paid once a month.

dce December 31, 2010 at 7:40 pm

There’s no good reason to only get paid once a month.

While there are some good arguments (which Michael covered) regarding being sure you cover the “big stuff” first, this can be better done by allotment. Set up your rent or mortgage, car payment, any of the big ticket items that are often due near the beginning of the month for an allotment, either directly or to a separate checking account that’s used for nothing but the recurring, big ticket, always the same amount expenditures.

What’s left after the allotments for the big stuff is then automatically equally divided into the twice a month paychecks.

It’s what I do.

Lacey January 10, 2011 at 6:19 pm

The only benefit I can see, is that you would get an actual LES each time and could pinpoint errors. I can’t tell you haw many times I have noticed something “off” with our paycheck during mid-month and then have to make a trip to finance to figure it out since there is no detailed info to look at.

Hank January 11, 2011 at 10:24 am

Lacey,

You are right that the mid-month LES is very lacking in details. So, if there is a problem, it is hard to pinpoint. But, receiving only one paycheck and therefore one LES at the beginning of the month will not solve that problem either. Instead, you will only find the error after four weeks instead of after two with a mid-month. I still think that there is almost absolutely no benefit to a single paycheck.

Amanda January 19, 2011 at 1:03 pm

My husband has been in the Army 30 years and he has always had one paycheck per month, and I wouldn’t change it. In fact, I”m going to propose to my workplace to change our paydays to every month rather than every two weeks.

To me it makes more sense to be paid once per month when bills also arrive once per month. Now he gets one paycheck on the first, and we know exactly what we have to pay bills; once the bills are paid, the rest is extra for whatever.

Another good reason is there is less chance for error, both on the military side and the servicemember side. Being paid twice per month, I see 24 times per year that DFAS could make a mistake when sending paychecks, or that I might write down the numbers incorrectly in my checkbook, rather than 12 chances for mistakes when being paid once per month.

A minor good reason for getting paid once per month is to get used to it now, since your military retiree paycheck will be just once per month, as will Social Security if it’s still around.

Andy’s comment above about giving the government a two week interest-free loan was interesting, but I’m looking at it a different way. In the one-paycheck-per-month version, the pay is for the entire previous month (e.g., May 1st’s paycheck is for the month of April). With two paychecks per month, is that still for the previous month, or is it for the prior 1/2 month? If it’s for the previous month, then the paycheck on the 15th would, in essence, be giving the government an interest-free loan for two weeks.

Michele January 19, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Been in 17 years and I have never gotten mid-month pay. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s natural for me to handle everything up front, use electronic payments through my bank for bills and track weekly expenditures. Allotments are a good tool to make your routine payments, but I prefer electronic payments instead (if your bank has a good, free system). Much easier, and you don’t have to make a trip to the S1 or finance to start or stop them.

I half believe the whole concept of mid-month equaling the govt getting a bit more interest on your money…I have not really looked into the billing cycle and timing of it all to see if it is true.

I am a little amused at the anti-one paycheck comments. I don’t think one is better over the other, it’s all a matter of preference. You can still mis-spend your money either way. I tend to check my accounts and verify bills almost every day, though, and I’m completely comfortable with EOM pay only.

Kerry February 13, 2011 at 9:18 am

Wow.. I thought I was the only person doing this. I’ve been getting a monthly pay check since 2007 and it is great because it allows me to pay all my bills on the first of the month and i’m not worried about missing bills that may have scattered due dates throughout the month.

I also take out a money budget for the month of $1000.00 to pay for hair cut, gas, etc. This is an excellent way to manage money.

Jason June 13, 2011 at 3:30 am

I choose to be paid once a month for a simple reason: simplicity.

If you have a budget and stick to it, it shouldn’t matter if you get paid 1, 2, or 30 times a month.

All my money gets deposited on the 1st, and within 2-3 days, all my monthly obligations are settled. My wife and I each get X dollars for spending money and that’s that. We fund our IRAs, savings, and other investments right up front.

No good reason to do it once a month? Pssh.

Casey September 1, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Can anyone tell me how to get this done? My husband is in the navy and nobody in his command knows how to do it or even that it could be done.

Elizabeth September 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Personally once a month pay is the best way to budget every month. You pay all your expenses at the beginning of the month including savings and whatever you have left is your fun money. At one of my jobs we got paid every week. Well that was nice, it was a pain to budget because you cannot pay all of your bills at once and surprises can happen. If you have all your pay at the beginning of the month, pay all of your bills no surprises can happen.

Linda Fields June 11, 2014 at 11:18 pm

I am an army wife of 22+ years so I am no stranger to living paycheck to paycheck. If you had asked me which I’d choose, 2x a month paycheck or 1x per month 6 years ago or longer, hands down I would have picked 2x per month. I have always been the budgeteer in our family, but that’s not enough. The spending must be under control and there really must be enough money to go around so there is a cushion for the unexpected things which I like to call: life. Life gets in the way all the time, especially for us in the army and/or married to it. But the question and statement made was about finding the pros for getting paid once a month. There really are many but it’s not for everyone. You and your spouse must first be disciplined about your money. You must keep a budget and stick to it. Me, for example, I pay ALL of our bills first before anything else but I also know how much money is left over for all of our needs and I always allocate fun money, money for the savings account, and life’s unexpected surprises to name a few. And how many of you wives, if you do the budget, have husband’s that come home needing all kinds of military “stuff” on the fly? It can add up… all that stuff you didn’t budget for, that’s why you have your unexpected pile of money in your budget for just that! But still, it doesn’t yet answer the question, “Are the any pros for getting all your military pay at one time per month?” My answer is, “Yes, I think so, if you are ready for it.” For my husband and I, he will be retiring in a few years, once he does, his retirement pay will be only once per month, so what better way for us to get used to it then to start now! That’s pro number one… get used to it now while we have more money coming in because once he retires, that money will be cut dramatically. Pro number two… when you get all your money at one time, you can not only can take care of all your bills for the entire month and let all that stress go, but you can take the money you have left over and use it for any emergency or vacation that might happen your way. This is the military, how many unexpected’s happen? Exactly my point! Wouldn’t it be nice to have the money available instead of having to wait for it next pay period? And what about those on the spot sales? You won’t miss those anymore either! Pro number three. Ok, now on to pro number four… I can’t tell you how many times the army has messed up our pay, especially in the middle of the month. We have gone weeks without any money at all or without any explanation as to what happened because we didn’t have an LES to break it down. When you get paid once a month, you have it all right there for you to take the guesswork out. If there’s a problem, you see it and know. Pro number five: have you seen an LES for those who get paid once a month? It’s far more impressive looking and when it’s used for getting loans, I personally thing it has more pull. This is just my opinion since the money is not split. It shows bigger numbers. Yes, it’s all psychological but hey, if it helps you get that car then woo-hoo! I could probably find more pros but I think I listed the biggest ones. My husband and I are about to switch over from 2x to 1x per month. He’s retiring in a few years and we’re living overseas. We’re tired of waiting for mid-month pay to come around and get messed up or delayed because there are so few working in finance here. Yes, that’s another reason when you live overseas. We’re going to make things so much easier by paying for all our bills one day out of the month. Yeah! And never have the stress or headache for the rest of the month thereafter. Then, if an emergency happens, if we have to evacuate Korea or if I just want to fly home on vacation, we have the money to do it without the hassle, yes, another reason (Pro). It’ll be good when we the change is done but we have to make sure we have a nice cushion in place to hold us over until it switches over. That’s the key. Remember, BUDGET and PAY BILLS FIRST, SAVE MONEY SECOND, then leave money for the UNEXPECTED THINGS. Hope this helps! Good luck to everyone! Take care and God bless!

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