Three Paycheck Months in 2021: What to Do With Your Third Check

If you get paid biweekly, twice a year you'll get three paychecks in a single month instead of two. Find out when those three paycheck months occur in 2021. Learn what to do with that third paycheck as well as the monthly budget trick that will help you maximize that extra check during the triple paycheck months.


What would you do if two extra paychecks fell out of the sky every year?

Paychecks don’t really fall out of the sky of course, but you can sort of make that happen if you get paid biweekly. With biweekly pay periods, twice a year you’ll get three paychecks in a single month instead of two. Here’s how it works:

Biweekly vs Semimonthly Payroll Periods

If you get paid semimonthly, on the 15th and 30th of every month for example, that’s twenty-four paychecks a year.

If you get paid biweekly, say every other Friday, that works out to twenty-six checks a year.

Getting twenty-six paychecks per year means there will be two months each year where you receive three paychecks instead of two.

So which months are the three paycheck months in 2021? That depends on when you receive your first check this year.

Three Paycheck Months in 2021

2021 is a bit of an odd duck.

January 1st is a Friday and a holiday so you might receive 3 paychecks in January 2021. Or you may get paid December 31st of 2020 depending on how your employer handles payroll. If you get paid on December 31, that makes December 2020 a three paycheck month, but not January 2021.

Three Paycheck Months in 2021 Starting January 1

If you would normally get your first paycheck of 2021 on January 1, your 2021 three paycheck months are July and December. January might be as well, but it depends on whether you actually receive your check on January 1. 2021 Three Paycheck Months Starting January 1, 2021

2021 Three Paycheck Months Starting January 8

If you get your first paycheck of 2021 on January 8th, your three paycheck months are April and October. 3 Paycheck Months in 2021 Starting January 8th

What If I Don’t Get Paid on Fridays?

If you get paid every other week, but not on Fridays, you can see from the pictures above it’s pretty easy to figure out your three check months. Grab a calendar and a pen then start circling starting with the day you got your first paycheck in 2021. That’s all there is to it!

How to Take Advantage of a 3 Paycheck Month

Employers aren’t in the habit of just handing out extra paychecks a couple of times a year, unfortunately. But here’s a simple monthly budgeting technique that will make that third check feel like a windfall: create your monthly budget based on your usual two paychecks a month.

If you do that, all your expenses for the month will be covered since you budgeted for them based on a normal, two paycheck month. When that third paycheck arrives, you’ll find yourself with extra cash. If you haven’t started budgeting yet, a three paycheck month is a perfect time to create your first budget.

Treat that money like a bonus. You can do whatever you want with it, but here are some ideas to get you started:

What to Do With Your “Extra” Paychecks

  • Start an Emergency Fund – Ideally, you have three to six months worth of expenses stashed away in case of emergencies. If you don’t have an emergency fund, that third paycheck should get you off to a good start.
  • Pay Down Debt – Getting out of debt is always a good idea. Paying down any outstanding credit card or loan balances with that extra paycheck will save you on interest and help you retire your debt earlier.
  • Make Extra Mortgage Payments – Put those extra paychecks toward your mortgage if you’re not planning on leaving your home any time soon. You’ll pay off your home early and reduce the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. Make sure the money is applied toward the principal instead of next month’s payment. Check with your mortgage lender first as some charge prepayment penalties.
  • Save it for Upcoming Expenses – Earmark the money for any large upcoming expenses you know are coming. Knock out your insurance premiums for the year, take care of any car or home repairs you’ve been putting off, or save it for a down payment on a house.
  • Save for Retirement – If you have a Roth or a traditional IRA, make a contribution. If you don’t have a retirement account, use the money to open one.
  • Splurge a Little – It’s OK to treat yourself a bit since you won’t be going into debt or missing any payments to do it. A new outfit, a vacation, or Christmas gifts for others. Frugal fatigue can set in when you’ve been living on a tight budget for a long time. If you have an emergency fund and your financial house is in order, I don’t see anything wrong with spending a little of it.
  • Get Ahead of Your Bills – You can use the third check to transition your budget to the half payment method to even out your bill payments. Or you could use that extra paycheck to get one month ahead on bills.

Getting Three Paychecks in a Month

Three paycheck months offer you many options to better your financial situation. You can pay off debt, take care of a major expense, or make your future a little more secure.

Taking a trip or buying a new outfit with a portion of the extra check won’t wreck your budget. That third check is a good opportunity. When those three paycheck months roll around, be intentional with your money no matter how you decide to use it.


Frequently asked questions about 3 paycheck months and biweekly pay periods.

What Months Do We Get 3 paychecks in 2021?

If you receive your first paycheck of 2021 on Friday, January 1st, January 2021 is a three paycheck month. New Year’s Day is a bank holiday so you might be paid December 31, 2020, making December 2020 a three paycheck month instead.

If you get your first 2021 paycheck on Friday, January 8, your three paycheck months in 2021 are April and October.

Does Getting Paid 3 Times in a Month Help?

Yes, getting paid 3 times in a month helps. If you base your monthly budget on two paychecks, during a three paycheck month you can use the third check for whatever you want. You can save that extra paycheck or use it to help reach your financial goals.

How Many Paychecks Do You Get in a Year?

If you get paid bi-weekly, you receive 26 paychecks per year. Since bi-weekly payroll cycles happen once every two weeks, there will be three pay periods in a month twice a year.

How Many Paychecks Do You Get in 2021?

In 2021, there are 53 Fridays. Some employees who get paid biweekly will receive 27 paychecks throughout the year.

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