The January 2024 end-of-month pay period is going to be exceptionally long. Like nearly three weeks long! Every time we have a long pay period, Facebook explodes with conversations on this subject, and they provide a fascinating look into how people handle their money. Most of it is sad. So let’s figure some things out now so you won’t be struggling at the end of January.
Actual Military Paydays
Because every month is not 28 days long, and because banks don’t work on weekends and holidays, military pay doesn’t always come on the 1st and 15th of the month. Any time that the 1st or 15th falls on a weekend or holiday, the actual military payday goes to the previous business day. If a weekend and a holiday fall together, the actual military payday can be up to three days earlier. Usually, these things sort themselves out over the course of the year, with military paydays usually coming 14-17 days apart. But every once in a while, the calendar falls just right (or wrong) and they are a lot closer together or a lot further apart.
This January 2024 End-of-Month Pay Period
So why is this one long?
The 15 of January 2024 is on a Monday, but that’s the Martin Luther King Day holiday. So the regular payday is pushed back to the previous business day: Friday, 12 January 2023. Any banks or credit unions will also push back their “early deposit” dates. You might see your actual deposit on the 12, the 11th, or even earlier.
But the next regular payday isn’t until Wednesday, 1 February 2023. That’s 20 days from the previous payday. And it’ll be adjusted for the same early deposit policies. (Fun fact: a Monday holiday on 15 January is the only way to get to a 20 day military pay period. It doesn’t happen very often.)
What’s The Big Deal?
On one hand, it isn’t a big deal. You’re still getting the same amount of pay and allowances for a month.
On the flip side, situations like these tend to identify who is struggling and who has a good handle on their financial situation.
There are valid arguments on both sides, with some folks saying that there is no way that even good money managers can stretch a paycheck for three weeks, and with other folks saying that any issues are solely a problem with your spending. Neither side is 100% right or 100% wrong, but It can be useful to see how a long pay period impacts your finances, and use what you learn to make little improvements for the future. Click To Tweet.
From a long viewpoint, there shouldn’t be a financial problem with a long pay period. Regardless of how the paychecks fall in a year, the year is still 365 (or 366) days long and there are still 24 paychecks in those same number of days. You have the same number of rent payments, and car payments, and credit card payments whether your pay comes 10 days apart or 20 days apart. Either you have the financial capacity to make it through a 31 day month, or you don’t – when the paychecks come shouldn’t matter.
But when you drill down, there can be some individual difficulties. Let’s say your grocery budget only covers 16 days of groceries – how are you going to eat for those 3 extra days? Logically, it is easy to say that you should have some left over from the last time we had a shorter pay period. But when you’re pinching pennies, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.
What You Can Do For A Long Pay Period
If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, start planning now to get through this month. Cut back your spending, and use the tips in 85 Ways To Get Through A Long Pay Period to ensure that you won’t be short on any essentials at the end of the month.
What You Can Do For The Future
If this month is going to be tight for you, get through the month and then start planning now to avoid problems during future long pay periods. Build up your emergency fund, build a spending plan around a 31 day month, pay off debt, and do all the other basic things that build a solid financial foundation. Meet with the financial educators available at your installation’s family readiness center. Take a class. Read a book. Send me an email. I promise your life will be so much easier!
A long pay period is a great way to measure how you are doing with your finances. If you don’t even notice, you’re probably doing a good job. Maybe it is a bother but not a big deal. That probably means that you are doing OK but have room for improvement. If a long pay period is an emergency, you need to make some major changes now. Improving your financial footing now can prevent unexpected difficulties when those long pay periods happen again.