So while the best answer is to budget (along the line of the answers to this question) and use a second, preferably interest-bearing, account to even out the pain of monthly bills, I'm curious if anyone has come up with a programmatic way of determining two days at opposite ends of every month that fall within different paychecks on a given year's bi-weekly (26 pay period) schedule?

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    I'm not sure what you're asking - can you give a concrete example of what you're looking for and how you intend to use it? – D Stanley May 3 '17 at 19:47
  • For example, on a bi-monthly schedule, you knew your first paycheck (or transfer to secondary account) covered bills with dates 1-14 and your second paycheck (or transfer) covered 15-EOM. When you move to bi-weekly, there are two extra paychecks per year, constantly shifting your payday as a date of the month. – SeanFromIT May 3 '17 at 19:50
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    Sure, but are you looking for months that have three paychecks, or just the date ranges for each paycheck? I did bi-weekly budgeting in Excel for many years but I'm still not cure exactly what you're trying to do. – D Stanley May 3 '17 at 19:53
  • Trying to avoid manual budgeting in Excel ;-) – SeanFromIT May 3 '17 at 19:54
  • Any two days 14 days apart (e.g. 1st and 15th) will be in two different bi-weekly pay periods except when Feb has 28 days. – D Stanley May 3 '17 at 19:57

If you're trying to make sure that your big expenses don't fall into the same two-week pay window, just use the 1st and the 15th, that will ensure that your big expenses are separated into the two paychecks. Whether the bill is due early or late in the pay period shouldn't really matter.

  • I like the simplicity here - N+1 where N is the period between paychecks. Will hold for any other answers before accepting. Thanks! – SeanFromIT May 3 '17 at 19:57
  • @DStanley Since the pay could rotate across all the days 1-14, then 15-28, it only happens occasionally. Maybe that's when the emergency fund comes in handy... – Nathan L May 3 '17 at 19:59
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    @DStanley, one year the paychecks come on Feb 1, Feb 15, so that second check falls into the same pay period as Mar 1 bill, but the following year the paychecks come on say Feb 2, Feb 16, the bill from Feb 1 falls into Jan 19 paycheck, the bill from Feb 15 falls into Feb 2 paycheck, and the bill from Mar 1 falls into Feb 16 paycheck. This is only a problem roughly every 14th year. – Nathan L May 3 '17 at 20:14
  • @NathanL I see what you're saying. I stand corrected. – D Stanley May 3 '17 at 20:17

This boils down to a cash flow management problem and there are software solutions for this out there. I am unsure of cost or quality, but that is the gist of the problem you are trying to solve. The software probably makes use of some operational research math, which is pretty intensive and not well documented in order to maximize cash flow.

There are much simpler, short cut ways of doing this. One is to always have at least one paycheck in your checking. Another might be to have the largest series of bills that are due in a single 14 day period in the checking. There are a few others, but in my opinion they all run too close for comfort.

The reality is that people regularly suffer minor unexpected expenses. Some refer to these as emergencies, but that word gets used far to freely for things that should be expected. Rather than turning those emergencies into disasters (by borrowing to solve them) it is better to have cash on hand. Without that cash on hand it makes it hard for a person to move forward in their financial life.

Additionally there was an academic study that was published recently that showed that cash on hand had a high correlation to a person's financial happiness. This WSJ article might provide a link to the study I was thinking about.

Some may think that this does not answer the question. I think it does: You should not be cutting it that close. Have some cash on hand. At least 1000, perhaps more depending on your stage of life. You will be happier, and you will meet your goals quicker.

  • I agree with the spirit of your advice (and would recommend >1000 for any adult) but you're right, this is not the specific answer I was looking for. :-) – SeanFromIT May 3 '17 at 20:12
  • I avoided this advice in my answer, but my own method is to allocate money earned in the current month for spending in the next month. That means I keep 2 paychecks in reserve (I'm paid semi-monthly) in my checking account at all times before moving much of that money to long-term savings when it does finally get allocated in the budget. – Nathan L May 5 '17 at 13:55

Some credit unions (especially ones that serve aerospace workers) offer loans with bi-weekly repayment plans. These plans are designed for people who receive bi-weekly paychecks.

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