If you’re paid every other week, there are normally two months out of the year when you receive three paychecks instead of two.
But as you’re about to find out, 2021 isn’t a normal year for some workers.
3 Paycheck Months in 2021: What You Need to Know
For most of my career as a salaried employee, I’ve been paid biweekly and have received 26 paychecks a year. That’s two more than people who are paid twice a month.
Here’s the simple math:
- Biweekly: 52 weeks ÷ 2 = 26 paychecks
- Twice a month: 12 months × 2 = 24 paychecks
Every year, I pull out a calendar and identify the three paycheck months based on my employer’s pay schedule. But when I reviewed the 2021 calendar for biweekly workers who are paid on Fridays, I realized that it’s not a typical year for everyone.
3 Paycheck Months in 2021 if You’re Paid Every Other Friday
- If your first paycheck of 2021 is Friday, January 1, your three paycheck months are January, July and December. However, since January 1 is a holiday, some employers may process payroll on December 31, 2020.
- If your first paycheck of 2021 is Friday, January 8, your three paycheck months are April and October.
As I mentioned earlier, you normally receive 26 checks a year when you’re paid every other week. But there are actually 53 Fridays in 2021, so some people may receive 27 checks instead of 26.
When I did more research, I learned that this is called a “payroll leap year” and it can result in one more payday than normal.
For some, this happened in 2020. But other people who are paid weekly or every other week will be affected in 2021. This doesn’t impact those paid monthly or twice a month.
Are you affected by the payroll leap year in 2021? If your first payday of the new year is January 1, it’s possible. Your employer’s HR department can give you a definite answer and let you know how the 27th paycheck is being handled.
For now, here’s the information I’ve gathered about the three paycheck months for 2021 if you’re paid every other Friday.
First Paycheck: January 1, 2021
- If your first paycheck of 2021 is on Friday, January 1, you may receive three paychecks that month. The other two are January 15 and January 29.
- However, since New Year’s Day is a bank holiday, many employers will schedule payroll on December 31, 2020. If that’s the case, December 2020 was a three paycheck month for you and January 2021 isn’t.
- July and December 2021 are the other three paycheck months for biweekly workers on this schedule.
First Paycheck: January 8, 2021
If your first paycheck of 2021 is on Friday, January 8, the payroll leap year will not affect you. You’ll only receive two paychecks in January, and your three paycheck months are April and October 2021.
First Paycheck: Friday, January 1, 2021
Paydays for 2021:
- January 1
- January 15
- January 29
- February 12
- February 26
- March 12
- March 26
- April 9
- April 23
- May 7
- May 21
- June 4
- June 18
- July 2
- July 16
- July 30
- August 13
- August 27
- September 10
- September 24
- October 8
- October 22
- November 5
- November 19
- December 3
- December 17
- December 31
First Paycheck: Friday, January 8, 2021
Paydays for 2021:
- January 8
- January 22
- February 5
- February 19
- March 5
- March 19
- April 2
- April 16
- April 30
- May 14
- May 28
- June 11
- June 25
- July 9
- July 23
- August 6
- August 20
- September 3
- September 17
- October 1
- October 15
- October 29
- November 12
- November 26
- December 10
- December 24
Of course, not everyone is paid on Fridays. But you can determine your three paycheck months for 2021 by pulling out a calendar, marking your paydays and finding the months with three of them.
Make a Plan for Your ‘Extra’ Paychecks
To reach your savings goals faster, I recommend that those who are paid biweekly build their budget based on receiving two paychecks a month and nothing else.
This is something that I’ve always done to simplify the budgeting process.
When I create my monthly budget, I set my projected monthly income based on receiving two paychecks and not a penny more.
During the months when you receive three paychecks instead of two, treat the money as a bonus!
Once you’ve identified the months with three paychecks, make a plan for how you’ll spend, save or invest the money. Here are just a few of the ways I’ve used my third paychecks in the past:
- Pay down mortgage principal
- Pay a semi-annual bill like auto insurance
- Pay for a home improvement project
- Add to the emergency fund
- Invest in a Roth IRA
- Save money for Christmas presents
- Book a weekend getaway
What’s your strategy for your three paycheck months in 2021? Let me know in the comments below and see this step-by-step guide to learn about my personal budgeting method.