Whether you get paychecks weekly, biweekly, or monthly, budgeting weekly is a great way to take control of your money and save more.
Want to know how to budget weekly paychecks?
It may sound tricky, but creating a weekly budget can be straightforward and effective once you know how. It's also a rewarding way to manage your money, cut expenses and make progress financially.
In this article, we talk you through the steps on how to budget weekly paychecks successfully.
How to succeed at budgeting weekly
Creating your budget is like trying to exercise more – the benefits are obvious, but it’s hard to get into the habit.
We make the process simpler by breaking it down into easy-to-follow steps.
1. Write down how much you earn weekly
This step is really important.
Unless you know exactly how much you earn, it’s impossible to create an accurate budget.
Make a note of the figure on your payslip after deductions such as tax and any pension contributions. If you have more than one source of income, list them all and add up the total.
If your income varies each week, use an average from your previous three months’ earnings.
2. Work out your weekly expenses
The key to learning how to budget weekly pay is to work out exactly how much you spend each week, down to the last cent. You can either write your expenses on paper, create a spreadsheet, or use an app.
Go through at least three of your recent bank statements and highlight each outgoing transaction. Total them up to get a final figure for your weekly expenses.
It’s important to analyze how your spending may change due to external factors such as the weather and season. Not only will what you buy change, but quantities and how often you purchase items will vary.
For example, your leisure budget may increase significantly during the summer months when the weather is good, and you want to spend time outside.
3. Split your expenses into essential and non-essential
Next, categorize your expenses into the following areas.
- Rent/mortgage payments
- Bills and food
- Healthcare and medication
- Debt repayments including credit cards and loans
- Car repayments, fuel, and insurance
- Entertainment and leisure
- Eating out
Essential spending is the things that you have to pay for, no matter what. Non-essential spending is usually things that you want rather than need.
4. Prioritize outgoings by their due date
Add the due date for each payment to your list of essential outgoings. You can then work out which bills need paying during certain weeks of the month. This will form your budgeting weekly plan.
For example, in week one you may have a car insurance payment due and in week two your gym membership may be due.
Top tip - if you have lots of outgoings due in one week, try to change the due date to another week to make your expenses more distributed and manageable.
For big payments, split them into smaller partial payments for the following month. For example, let’s say you have a monthly mortgage expense of $1200. Each week, put aside $300.
Smaller payments on your weekly paycheck budget are much more manageable when you’re paid weekly instead of trying to find the full amount in a week.
5. Reduce unnecessary spending
Does your spending equal more than your income? If so, it’s time to start reducing your outgoings.
The best place to start is your non-essential spending list. Cut down on the areas that are costing you the most. For example, are those takeout coffees pushing your dining out spending category into one of your biggest spending areas?
Decide on a realistic figure for each of the spending categories that you’re comfortable with.
6. Set savings goals
Saving money should be a part of every budget, regardless of your earnings or budgeting method.
The most effective way to save on a budgeting weekly plan is to make it part of your fixed expenses. So if you have $25 spare after your essential and non-essential weekly spending, allocate that money to your savings fund.
Common reasons why Americans struggle to save money include the cost of living and bad spending habits. Whilst a few dollars a week may not sound like much, it will soon add up.
$25 a week is $100 a month, which is $1,200 a year. What would you do with that money? Whether you’d spend it on a vacation or pay off debt, it’s important to have goals to motivate you to save.
7. Choose your weekly budgeting method
Now you’ve got your weekly budget sorted, it’s time to choose a budgeting method to help you stick to your carefully considered plan.
There are lots of different ones to try, including:
The 50/30/20 budget popular, simple budget plan that really works. 50% of your income is for your needs (essential spending) and 30% on wants (non-essential spending). The remaining 20% of your weekly budget is then used for savings or to pay off debts.
If you find the 50/30/20 plan too challenging, the 70/20/10 method works in the same way but dedicates more of your weekly earnings to your outgoings.
Zero-based budgeting plan
With the zero-based budgeting plan, all of your money is assigned to different categories such as housing, food, entertainment, debt, and saving until you reach $0 of your weekly earnings.
If you have any funds left over in any of the categories, the money can be rolled over to the next month or moved to a category that needs a higher budget.
Studies have shown that cash-only budgets are more motivational because it’s harder to part with physical cash than using your bank card each time you want something.
For the envelope budgeting method, you will need an envelope for each of your spending categories. Then, fill each envelope with the cash that you need for that weekly spending area.
For example, if your weekly budget for groceries is $60, withdraw $60 from an ATM and put it in the relevant envelope. After all the money from each envelope is spent, you can’t add any more for that week.
Benefits of a weekly paycheck budget
Knowing how to budget weekly pay may seem challenging, but it’s a skill worth learning.
Here are three big benefits of budgeting weekly.
Become aware of your spending habits
It’s easier to set and achieve weekly goals than it is monthly. This is because there are far fewer transactions coming out of your bank account over a weekly period than during a month of spending.
This makes your expenses more manageable and is an effective way to take control of your spending.
Life can present you with unexpected financial situations. A good budget is flexible, so you can adapt your finances accordingly without needing to reach for a credit card or worry about how you will afford to pay for a home repair.
The great thing about a weekly budget is that if you overspend one week, you can simply adapt the following week’s budget to help you cover the cost.
Simplify your savings
Take your weekly paycheck budget and make a note of the amount you have left over for savings. This is how much you have left to save for anything you’d like. Simple, right?
What makes a good weekly budget?
There are three factors that determine the success of your budget:
- One that is achievable
- One that is personal to you
- One that is flexible
Setting yourself a budget that is too strict will only result in disappointment when you end up overspending.
Just because your friends are sticking to a certain budget, it doesn't mean that you should. A budget should be based on your individual earnings, outgoings, and financial goals, not somebody else's.
Above all, a good weekly budget needs to be flexible to account for unexpected financial situations such as a car repair. If your budget is too strict, you're likely to increase your debt and reduce your savings efforts.
Make confident financial decisions and save more for your future with a carefully considered budget.
Tracking your weekly budget
So now you’ve set your weekly budget and know how to budget weekly pay, it’s time to create a plan to track it.
There are a variety of budget trackers to choose from, each one a great financial motivator and time saver to help you keep track of earnings and outgoings, debt, and savings progress.
Consider using one of the budget tracking methods below. Pick one that suits your style and needs, and have fun using it.
Use an app to save time and manage expenses on the go
Budgeting apps are quick and easy to set up and accessible 24/7.
Here are some of our favorites and their benefits.
Credit Karma money management tool
Credit Karma is free to download and you can link your accounts to give you an overview of your financial situation. You can track spending and net worth, as well as your credit score.
PocketGuard is a great app to use if you want to simplify budgeting weekly. You can connect all of your accounts and track bills easily. Enter all of your outgoings, and the app will automatically work out how much you have left for bills and your savings.
Consider Fudget if you’d rather not sync your accounts and would prefer an app with a simple, calculator-style interface. You can make lists of earnings and outgoings and track your balance at the touch of a screen, but you won’t be able to do fancy things such as categorize your spending.
Regularly check your account statements
The most effective way to stop falling back into bad financial habits is to regularly check your progress against your budget.
This doesn’t have to take lots of time or effort. Simply spend a few minutes at the end of each week looking back at your spending and making adjustments if required.
Explore other expense tracker options
Budgeting books are ideal for people who like to write everything down but want their notes organized and in one place. One of the biggest benefits of budgeting books is that it’s hard to ignore any bad spending habits that you may have.
Prefer to use Excel? If you know how to use the software correctly, you can easily create a budget planner that is created for your unique needs.
Printables are another popular option because there are lots of different styles and templates to choose from. They have simple layouts that can be filled in quickly to calculate income and track weekly expenses.
Check out our library of free personal budgeting courses and resources to help you take actionable steps on tracking your budget.
Start your weekly budget today!
Now you know how to budget weekly paychecks successfully, it's time to put your new knowledge to good use.
If you want to improve your finances, budgeting weekly is the best approach to help you achieve your goals. But nobody is saying that it will be easy.
Set some time aside each week (a Sunday evening works well!) to sit down, grab a drink and create your weekly budget using the tips in this article.
If you have a day that doesn't go so well, don’t beat yourself up. If you bought that banned takeout coffee or treated yourself to a new top, that’s ok.
The crucial thing is that you don’t give up on your budget. Adjust it to accommodate your financial slip-ups and keep moving forward. As you do, continue to find out more about achieving financial goals!