How Do You Treat Payday?

In the restaurant I work at we have a label for a particular day or two of the month:

Payday Friday

A couple of things happen on Payday Friday.  We’re busier, people tend to buy more expensive items (like barista drinks over drip coffee and sandwiches over bagels and pastries), and I have to get change for people with hundreds literally every 5 minutes!

In short, Payday Friday is usually a little more hectic.  Now, working in retail or food service makes it easy to observe how people spend money.  But if you work in an office, I’m sure your coworkers have their own routines you can easily catch on to (going out to eat, online shopping, and conversations about new cars, weekend and vacation plans, etc.)


I have my own payday ritual.  It goes something like:

  1. Check paystub (I’m hourly so my pay fluctuates slightly).
  2. Record income in YNAB and budget
  3. Pay Bills!
    1. I have a couple of bills automatically deducted, like initial student loan payment and Netflix.  Rent I pay manually, as well as any fluctuating bills.
    2. Credit cards I pay manually.  I always pay them off, but I’m already logging into my accounts to make sure nothing fishy is going on so I just pay them off then.
  4. Make transfers for any savings goals.  Right now we’re saving up for a downpayment for a house (still far off but we’ve decided we’d at least like to start) so I make that transfer, then maybe an extra student loan payment or a transfer to my IRA depending on how I’m feeling.
  5. Live!

Basically my spending habits don’t change – there’s nothing in that routine of hitting up the mall, going out to eat just because I got paid, or generally needing to “Treat Myself”.

Part of it is because I’m weird and get a lot of satisfaction out of paying bills, balancing accounts, and budgeting.  I also get a lot of satisfaction from seeing my account balances go up and my debt balances go down.

I also try to build a lot of satisfaction into my daily life.  I still go out to eat, occasionally get excited about buying something new, and don’t mind spending money on something fun.  Why does payday have to be the only day you get to enjoy life?  Payday is the day I do all my responsible, adult, boring money stuff – budgeting, paying bills, saving.  It’s one day of that stuff vs. 13 of actual living!

Why live for paydays when you can live in between them?

4 thoughts on “How Do You Treat Payday?

  1. Oh man I never thought about this! But back in the day when my money was super-tight, I would totally treat myself on Payday Friday. It was like the one day of the month that I didn’t have to worry about money–ever-so-briefly, of course. I obviously got out of that habit because I wasn’t doing well financially, but I can see how people fall into this bad habit.

    1. Great point, there’s already a lot of emotions tied to money and I’m sure the feeling of security that comes from having enough money in the bank is more powerful than we give it credit for!

  2. I love pay day because I love making payments to credit cards (all 0% interest for home renovations) and putting extra into savings!

    I think it’s so important to build fun into daily life. As you pointed out, it can help keep from splurging.

    1. Do you make your credit card payments manually?

      I’m all for automating parts of your financial life, but I really enjoy the ritual of moving money around on payday, especially towards goals. Physically logging into my accounts and paying bills and seeing the balances change over the course of a half hour while I sip my coffee is something I enjoy the hell out of!

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