Budgeting software for biweekly paychecks?
May 22, 2014 9:39 AM   Subscribe

This question was posted three years ago, but none of the answers seemed to have worked out and technology moves so fast that I thought I'd check in. Is there a budgeting program that will let me do a biweekly budget?

Preferred features include: app (for iphone); ability to set up recurring bills on a monthly basis too (e.g. my Netflix is billed on the 8th, so that biweekly budget should include Netflix while the other doesn't). Syncing with bank accounts is essential; if I wanted to manually enter transactions, I'd just use Excel.

I've tried YNAB and Mint, but have found them unfriendly towards biweekly paychecks. The previous poster got more financial advice than I think they anticipated, so just to be clear: I have a savings account and am not living paycheck to paycheck, and I do live my life and think of my finances on a biweekly basis so monthly budgeting just doesn't really work well for me.

Does this software/app exist?
posted by c'mon sea legs to Work & Money (6 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Biweekly paychecks is nearly the norm in the US. All of these programs are fine with whatever frequency of income you have, but they do set budgets on a calendar month (28-31 days). This is because most people think of budgeting big monthly bills like rent, mortgage, loan payments. It also means you only reconcile your budget and accounts 12 times a year.

Are you looking for something that would let you budget 50% of your rent from one check, and 50% from the next? These bills happen every month, and importantly, not every month will contain 2 pay periods. Thus, if your month was a 3 paycheck month, you wouldn't need to budget 50% of rent from paychecks 1 and 2 and 3.

Importantly, the interval of your budget is an arbitrary abstraction. If you're not living paycheck to paycheck, it doesn't really matter what interval your budget is in.
posted by fontophilic at 11:51 AM on May 22, 2014

I get paid biweekly and found ynab to be awesome once I actually sat down and watched the darn videos and read in the forums. I kept trying to budget my old way and that wasn't gonna work.

If you would like me to show you what I did, please memail. I cannot evangelize enough about ynab bc it is the only thing in 20 years of working that has helped me actually manage my money.
posted by sio42 at 12:04 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

YNAB handles this. Their blog on fortnightly paychecks.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:10 PM on May 22, 2014

I also thought YNAB wouldn't work very well for biweeklies, but the tutorials had some good solutions. I chose the method of budgeting according to the total that comes in most months. For the two extra-paycheck months, we distribute some where extra is needed, and dump the rest into our emergency fund. (I don't remember the other options; sorry.)
posted by moira at 9:38 PM on May 22, 2014

Best answer: c’mon sea legs memailed me, and i replied, and they have asked me to post my answer to them in the thread since it was very helpful to them.
this ended up being longer than i expected...YNAB seems complicated until you get to that A-HA moment. then it's easy.

this video helped a lot

i'm not sure if it's in this video or not, but you can name the category "Rent ($790 - 1st)" so you know it's $790 on the first of each month.

look thru the forums for budgeting with a biweekly paycheck.

the BIGGEST hurdle is to understand difference between forecasting and budgeting.

YNAB wants to say what you're doing with the money you have NOW. (there's also a nifty feature called fresh start, which i have used several times, that just wipes out your transactions but keeps the budget. i had to do this until i got the knack of budget vs forecast.)

this guy's eureka moment kinda helps….


for example i have an "everything else" category. that is where eating out, starbucks, random ass target crap that is not household or groceries, clothes, kindle books - everything else that is not bills or other monthly/annual/whatever expenses (car ins, rent, cell phone).

i'll search some more for the other videos and posts that helped, but all i can say is, i personally watched the two or three videos that helped several times each, not just once. i had to really give up the idea of "saying here's where all my money this month is going" and instead say "here's where the money i have right NOW is going".

each budget category is like a jar or envelope. you put your money that YOU HAVE NOW in it. you can't put money you don't have in a jar. the budget category name (the label on the jar) - you can put a number on it...like "everything else $150". i know that i want to only spend $150 per month on that. so this paycheck i'm gonna put $70 in that jar (and next paycheck, i'll put in $80, but RIGHT NOW i'm only putting in $70, from this paycheck). as i spend in that category my budget category balance will decrease. if i go over, i'll move some money from another jar over to that one, but it's still all the money i have right NOW.

the category name shows the amount i'm aiming for. the middle column shows the total actual transactions. the balance shows how much you have left in that category – not your account.

so i have just put $70 in my "everything else $150" jar. i go out and get a latte. i put a transaction in my phone while they are making it for "Starbucks, $3.44, account: checking, category: everything else". my category balance is reduced by $3.44, showing i have like $65 left in that jar. my checking acct is also reduced $3.44.

later i go out and find a nice top at tjmaxx. i use my credit card. "TjMaxx, $15, account: Discover, category: everything else". my category balance is reduced by $15, showing i have $50 left in the jar, and my discover balance is increased by $15.

WATCH THE CREDIT CARD VIDEOS. holy crap i did not get that for a loooong time. but using the jar idea makes more sense. because even tho that $15 wasn't "real" money, i want to pay it off right away, so it technically is coming out of my jar. i have a couple thousand in credit cards, but the videos really help you understand how you can use the cards at the same time as paying them down and keep it all straight. (they understand about rewards cards. that's why i use mine. cash back bonus helps pay down my balance, even if just a little.)

i realize this all probably sounds confusing, but it's a completely different thing than Mint or Quicken or just plain old excel.

i'm sure i'll think of something else, but feel free to memail back. we could even do a google hangout or something if that would help and i can show you exactly what i'm doing and what i'm thinking as i do it.

i make a decent amount of money and was bouncing my rent check because i couldn't keep track of what i was spending. YNAB has made that stop happening (after a few rough starts). so i'm soooo interested in helping someone else understand how it works.
posted by sio42 at 7:00 AM on May 23, 2014 [7 favorites]

Just in case it's not clear...

When I put $70 in my "everything else" jar for this pay, when the next pay comes around, I'll up my amount budgeted by $80 to $150, which is my goal for the month. So I'm not making two separate categories - one for $70 and one for $80 - it's just one jar.

A little trick ... when you click in a budget amount cell, hit the minus sign key (on my keyboard it's between the zero and the +/= key), it brings up a little calculator on the screen in the program so you don't have to do math in your head.
posted by sio42 at 12:42 PM on May 23, 2014

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