While budgeting your money can go a long way toward improving your finances, so can establishing a payday routine. A payday routine is a series of steps you take right after you get paid to ensure your monthly expenses are covered and you're making progress toward financial goals.
Having a regular plan for your paycheck allows you to take charge of your money in a way that works best for you. With each paycheck you can decide whether you will pay off bills, slash down debt, save extra funds or invest your money.
"The idea is to build a habit of managing your money that eventually becomes your lifestyle," said Brittney Castro, a certified financial planner for money management app, Mint.
And part of that habit building, Castro says, includes creating a routine well before payday actually hits. By having a plan in place, it can help prevent you from overspending or splurging.
Here's how to establish a payday routine:
Start with a budget
Setting up a budget ensures you can make the most of your paychecks by knowing how much money is coming in and going out.
While creating a budget can feel laborious, it can also set you up for success when it comes to tracking your spending, saving money and paying for expenses, like bills or occasional splurges for special events like holidays or birthdays.
So what makes the perfect budget to accompany a payday routine?
"Don't forget to include real life in your budget," said Kumiko R. Love, founder of The Budget Mom, and "prioritize your financial goals."
Real life expenses could include home improvement costs, spending for special occasions or even unexpected life events.
Accounting for these type of expenses while also making sure you have enough money left over to meet your financial goals can help curtail unnecessary splurging.
Love further suggests creating a budget that accounts for the least amount of income you could receive. This is to ensure your budget is always within the threshold of the income you can make.
Create a road map
Don't wait till your paycheck arrives to decide what to do with it, said Love.
Start mapping out your plan before the money comes in.
"The plan really has to happen before payday," she said. "That's where a lot of people get in trouble. They wait to create a road map for their spending or budget, until they get paid."
A good place to start is reviewing your last pay period to get a better understanding of how much you made and the breakdown of your paycheck. Having a sense of these numbers before payday will come in handy as you map out both your payday routine and budget. You should also review your budget and financial goals before you get paid.
By doing this, you can ensure you don't blow through your paycheck once it hits your bank account, Castro says.
"Most of the time, when you have clarity and awareness with your money and spending patterns, it helps you stay on track by living within your means."
Also, be sure to pay attention to the other items listed on your paycheck -- not just what you made that pay period.
"Understand what group benefits you may receive and pay for, how much you may be contributing to a retirement plan and how much your employer is matching, and your tax withholdings," said Castro.
This will give you a clearer sense of where you money is going, areas you can increase or reduce your contributions and, more importantly, to ensure accuracy.
Your road map should also include any financial goals you may have such as paying off debt, saving toward an emergency fund or exploring a side hustle to bring in more income.
Execute your routine
Once you've nailed down your budget and road map, it's time to put your payday routine into action.
Love suggests taking 15 to 20 minutes each pay period to implement your routine.
"Have the plan sitting in front of you when you receive your paycheck, so you have a clear road map of where you need to throw your dollars," she said.
One common payday strategy is paying yourself first. In other words, prioritize your savings by automating your bills and savings every month. From there, you can track your spending for that pay period, make any necessary changes to your budget and review your progress on your financial goals.
You can also try implementing the cash envelope method. Simply put, you divvy up your income into envelopes that represent different spending and expense categories, such as groceries or gas. The point is to only spend the available cash in each envelope for each category until the next pay period.
"It gives you a better sense of what's going out and what's coming in over an extended period of time when it comes to your money," said Love.
Stick with it
Financial habits like payday routines are meant to be maintained. But sticking with a routine can be difficult. Life can get busy and unexpected expenses can pop up.
One approach that Castro suggests is scheduling regular check-ins with your finances. You can set them as recurring events in your calendar so you commit to them no matter what, she said.
"The biggest pitfall people tend to face when establishing a payday routine is simply starting off strong but then straying from their routine," Castro said. "You have to stay committed and motivated to maintaining your money routines until they become a habit."