min read
· Posted on
February 21, 2024

How to make your budget work for your pay cycle

Trying to align your budget to your pay cycle can seem tougher than trying to keep a houseplant alive without the right strategies.

What's the key learning?

  • The first step is tracking your expenses and their timings
  • Where possible, adjust the timeframe of your expenses to match your pay cycle
  • Set up automatic payments for the expenses you can
  • Remember to have a buffer incase some months are more spendy than others
  • It's a good idea to save separately in a different account

Ever feel like your money's doing the cha-cha slide right out of your bank account? You're not alone! 

Making a budget stick to your pay cycle is like convincing a toddler to eat their veggies - pretty darn tricky, but doable with the right strategy.

Whether you get paid once a month, once a fortnight, or once a week, it’s all about having a system for your bills.

Queue: Bills, Bills, Bills by Destiny’s Child.

You might switch pay cycles if you’re moving from one workplace to another, or if your workplace is changing its payment cycles (which is reaaaaal confusing).

And managing a change in pay cycles can be more unsettling than reading the instructions on an IKEA pack.

But assuming you’ve already got a budgeting process in place, adjusting for a change in your pay cycle is easier than it looks.

  1. Track your expenses

Don’t stress, this doesn’t mean you need to note down every single iced oat latte or gin and tonic you buy…we ain’t about the “track every dollar you spend” life.

But, when you’re changing pay cycles it helps to get the lay of the land of your income and expenses first.

You might already have a sense of your expenses in your budget which is great, but it’s always a good idea to revisit it in case things have changed.

Start by listing all your recurring expenses, when they’re paid, and how frequently.


  • Rent, $1500, 2nd of every month,
  • Health Insurance, $130, 12th of every month

This should be easy peasy for your consistent expenses like rent/mortgage, subscriptions, monthly insurance payments, or your internet bill.

But a little tougher for inconsistent expenses like your groceries, water and electricity bills, or one off payments like your car servicing.

To account for these, you’ll need to do some detective work - run through your bank statements from the past 2-3 months to get an estimate of your inconsistent expenses.

It’s also a good idea to categorise your expenses too eg. needs, wants, and ‘future you’ (but if you prefer a different method to categorise, you do you boo).

  1. Adjust the timeframe of your expenses

Let’s say you’re transitioning from a fortnightly pay cycle to a monthly one, then you’d need to divide your expenses into monthly amounts rather than fortnightly. 

So if you spend $200 on groceries a fortnight, you’ll now be allocating roughly $400 a month to groceries. 

Or if you want to be reaaaaally technical (because there are more than 48 weeks per year): 

  • $200 x 26 fortnights = $5,200
  • $5,200 / 12 months = $433 per fortnight

Or if you usually spend $150 a fortnight on ‘wants’ like eating out or shopping, you’ll now be roughly budgeting $300 a month.

  1. Set up automatic payments for your regular expenses where possible

Now you might already have some of your payments set up as direct debits. 

If not, you can call up - most providers are happy to set up your payments as direct debits.

Ideally set the payments for immediately after your pay comes through, so you know exactly what you’re left with for your other expenses.

You’ll probably also have bills on longer cycles, such as quarterly utilities bills or annual insurance premiums.

You can either divide these payments (or their estimated amount) into monthly portions that you allocate and save each time your pay comes through.

Or you can set up a separate account to transfer the monthly portion of these payments so you don’t get a shock when the bill comes through.

Once you’ve set up automatic payments for all the possible expenses, you should be left with a total amount you’ve budgeted for your needs, your wants, and your investments/savings (or other categorisation method) per month.

  1. Have a buffer

Life can be unpredictable - you might find yourself being a bit more spendy for a month or two because you’ve really been hitting it off with your Hinge date.

Or overshooting your budget because you’ve had to call a plumber and pay for a car repair in the same month.

Set aside a buffer of say 10-15% of your income each pay cycle for irregular expenses that you can’t really plan for.

  1. Save separately

When the lolly jar is right in front of you, you’re gonna get your hands in here.

And when spending is as easy as tapping your phone or watch onto a screen, you can easily end up dipping into your savings without even realising it.

Keep your savings in a separate savings account that you’re not transacting from.

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