Three Paycheck Months in 2020 and What to Do With Your Third Paycheck

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 2020 and what to do with that third paycheck as well as the monthly budget trick that will help you maximize that extra check.


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 2020? That depends on when you received your first check this year.

2020 Three Paycheck Months Starting January 3

I get paid every other Friday. I got my first paycheck of the year on January 3rd. So for me and anyone who gets paid biweekly and got their first check January 3, our three paycheck months are January and July:

Biweekly payroll calendar starting January 3, 2020

2020 Three Paycheck Months Starting January 10

If you get paid biweekly and you got your first check of 2020 on January 10, your three paycheck months are May and October:

Biweekly pay periods 2020 starting January 10

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 2020. 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.

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’re aware of. 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 is real so 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.

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. Be intentional with your money no matter how you decide to use it.

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Three Paycheck Months in 2020 and What to Do with that Third Paycheck