The Paycheck Guessing Game is Over
July 3, 2011 7:47 AM   Subscribe

For you hourly employed people, how do you keep track of what your paycheck will be?

It's gotten to the point in my hourly paycheck job that I really want to know what my paycheck will be. Before this job I never had to worry about it because all of my jobs were either technically hourly but I was guaranteed a certain pay per day worked or based on publication stuff and I could get a paycheck whenever I wanted.

I just want to know what my paycheck will be. I tried using Excel before but I just couldn't make a habit out of updating the sheet. That would be a little harder now I'm getting into overtime rather consistently and I don't know how I could build that into the spreadsheet anyway.

If I have to, I'm willing to just let the extra from OT pay to just be a bonus.

I have an XP machine, but am looking to get an iPod Touch and/or Android phone in the near future.
posted by theichibun to Work & Money (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you're going going to build the habit of updating something, then you're going to find it nearly impossible to track.

I use an Excel spreadsheet that looks something like the below:

| Start time | Finish time | Total | Breaks | Hours Worked | Actual Pay

Hours worked shows the hours I've worked in hours:minutes (5:45) and actual pay shows me it in full hours:quarter hours (5.75)

The left hand column looks like:

-----------
Week 35
-----------
27
-----------
28
-----------
29
-----------
30
~~~~~~
1
-----------
2

This denotes the work week I'm in and the date. A cell to the bottom right totals up all of the Actual Pay and shows me how many hours I've worked. The next cell to the right removes my core hours and shows me how much overtime I've done. The next two cells multiply their respective totals by my hourly wage to give me a figure in currency that I earned that week.

Each payroll month is displayed in one worksheet. At the end of every payroll month, a cell collates all of the Actual Pay & overtime pay and displays what overtime I've done and how much I will be paid in total the following month.

Because I don't work set hours, I use mine to keep track of when I'm supposed to be working or have a day off. I only have to update the sheet once a month when I get my rotas, so I know at least how much money I will get at the end of the following month (not including any short notice overtime). Let me know if you want a copy.
posted by Solomon at 8:06 AM on July 3, 2011


Well whether you use a computer or a smartphone you'll have to keep track of your hrs and update dilligently if you want a reasonably accurate figure. But if you are generally going into overtime territory can't you just use your "standard" hrs and work on that basis?

How does your employer log your hrs? Whenever I had an hrly job I had to sign in and sign out on a computer terminal. If I wanted to I could interrogate the system to find out how many hrs I had worked that month at any time.

Having said that I never did that. I just worked out what shifts I'd worked, how many hrs that was and what gross pay that would be...normally in my head. This was pre smartphones, actually it was pre mobile phones...and it cheered me up to work it out on the way home when I was shattered and wondering why I was putting myself through it. Worked ok. I suppose if my employer had been that way inclined they could have forgotten the odd hr and I would have been out of pocket but they were always extremely accruate about that kind of thing so I never bothered developing a more exact method.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:08 AM on July 3, 2011


if you use Google Docs, try this template:
https://docs.google.com/embeddedtemplate?id=0AqtURj8EhrondDRTQVY4Z2lwQ01CMzVVUzNDNHRKdFE

Overtime is usually (regularPay * 1.5) per hour. So to build the spreadsheet, you could have days in columns, and hours worked in rows. Have one row for regular hours, and another row for OT hours. The final columns should have the totals: total regular hours, total OT hours, total regular pay, total OT pay.
posted by cellojoe at 8:08 AM on July 3, 2011


Figure out what you get after taxes per paycheck, then divide it by the hours you've worked. Voila, that's your actual pay per hour. With that number you can figure out what you're earning on-the-fly.
posted by Slinga at 8:54 AM on July 3, 2011


Yeah, having worked part-tine / hourly / as an independent contractor, I think this is just something you get used to mentally tracking. The only one that can be hard to figure out is the initial, because of withholding, but after that just remember the hours you're working and the multiplier. Try to get on a regular (biweekly) pay schedule if possible, and deposit your checks without getting cash back so you have complete records.
posted by charmcityblues at 9:14 AM on July 3, 2011


If you're earning something less than $12 an hour, and have a simple tax/deductions situation (no dependents, no tips, etc.) the easiest way to get a very approximate idea of what your paycheck will look like is (Hours * Rate * .80) - this worked for me for most of my jobs from 1997 through 2007 in several states. OT should be 1.5 per hour - only CA requires double time under specific conditions, as far as I know.
posted by SMPA at 9:16 AM on July 3, 2011


koahiatamadl: "But if you are generally going into overtime territory can't you just use your "standard" hrs and work on that basis?"

Damn, one thing I forgot to put in is that I'm splitting time between two different positions that get a different pay rate.
posted by theichibun at 10:17 AM on July 3, 2011


That's easily solved in Excel. Just have start and finish times for jobs One and Two, calculate the hours and multiply those calculations by your hourly rate. Add those two figures together and you'll get what you'll be paid each week.
posted by Solomon at 10:28 AM on July 3, 2011


How would I get it to account for overtime though?
posted by theichibun at 10:44 AM on July 3, 2011


If the company you're working for uses ADP for payroll, they have a paycheck calculator.
posted by hobbes at 11:03 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh.. apparently ADP has made their payroll calculators available to the public as well.
posted by hobbes at 11:05 AM on July 3, 2011


How would I get it to account for overtime though?

Account for all your hrs at the standard rate and add an extra couple of rows at the bottom:

Overtime row to compute hrs that qualify as overtime and pay uplift for those hrs:
Actual hrs > standard hrs = overtime hrs, multiply ot hrs by the differential between the overtime rate and the standard rate (the overtime rate-standard rate)

Total - compute total based on the subtotal (pay for all hrs at standard rate) plus overtime rate differential.


Keep a separate record for each job/role.

Set up your spreadsheet to have as many rows as you could possibly ever need in any given pay period. The overtime row and the total row never get touched - they are formulas. Copy the sheet every mont and delete the actuals and start to populate again.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:16 AM on July 3, 2011


Overtime row should actually use this function to make sure it gives you a nil value if you have worked less than your standard hrs that period.

=if(A>B,A-b,0)*(C-D)

where
A= cell with total hrs worked in period
B= your standard hrs
C= overtime rate
D= standard rate

Suggest you define B to D somewhere as cells and use the cell references in the function so you can simply overwrite that one cell and won't have to mess with the formula if hrs or rates change.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:37 AM on July 3, 2011


I would just use a free Android app. Start it when you clock in each day, turn it off when you get to overtime, and download from the website at the end of the week or whatever. Overtime would be a bonus with this method, but it is very simple.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:17 PM on July 3, 2011


I've been there: trying to keep track of how many hours at which location --- and at one period in my life, that could have been 5-6 different facilities w/correspondingly different pay rates!

Admittedly I'm old-school though: I used a pocket calendar (the kind with a box for each day, not a line) and a pen. In each day's block I entered the facility abbreviation, hours worked (i.e., '8a-6p') and total number of hours for the day (8.75 or 10 or 9.25 or whatever). When I received the paycheck for that facility, I circled the number of hours as an indication that yes, I'd been paid for it. Cheap, easy and effective --- really, I don't see the need to get fancier than that, with spreadsheets and whatnot.
posted by easily confused at 12:44 PM on July 3, 2011


Just for anyone keeping up with this, turns out that they didn't have my higher rate in the system right. When I asked them to change it they decided to just raise my rate for everything so not only am I paid the same hourly wage for whatever I'm doing, it's a number that's really easily multiplied.
posted by theichibun at 8:58 AM on August 3, 2011


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