Not all months have a set four weeks and if you plan and budget for four weeks at a time, some months may be harder than others.
There are ways to plan around and ideas to help if you’re caught short of cash during a 5 weekend month.
As most months have four weeks, a lot of us fall into the trap of thinking to manage our money on a weekly basis.
If you’re paid monthly, this can cause you problems as the 52 weekends in a year aren’t divided up equally between the 12 months. This means that some months have five weekends, rather than the usual four.
What if you’ve only budgeted for four weeks and don’t get paid until nearer to the fifth weekend? You may well be panicking now and wondering how you’re going to survive the extra time until next pay day.
Planning for five weekend months
If you’re paid monthly, the trick is to plan ahead but don’t worry if it’s already too late.
These tips to help you to stretch your money that little bit further so you can survive it. Plus get you ready in advance for when five weekend months crop up next.
Look at your budget differently
If you currently think of your budget in terms of spending “£x” per week on groceries, this is where you can come unstuck with a five weekend month.
For example, if you’ve put aside £50 per week for your groceries you’ll probably think of this as £200 each month and budget accordingly. This will work for you for most months.
It brings you to a yearly total of £2,400, but it misses out the fact that not every month has a magic four weeks.
If you take that same £50 per week and multiply it by 52 to account for every week of the year, your budget will come in at £2,600 per year.
That extra £200 per year can make all the difference when a five week month comes around. If you’ve worked out your budget on this basis, you’ll have bit of extra freedom to see you through a longer than average month.
Put small bits of cash aside
If you’ve not got a lot of spare cash in the average month, you’re probably not going to be able to build up a sizeable emergency fund.
However, it’s not as hard as you think to put aside enough to see you through an extra weekend in a five weekend month.
There are a couple of options to do this:
Set up an emergency jar
Put any spare change your family has in a jar that isn’t dipped into unless funds are very low.
You’d be surprised how much it could add up. These odd bits of savings could be enough to let you buy staples in a five weekend month.
Skim your bank account
You can follow the same principle in your bank account by rounding down to the nearest round number. Skim this money and transfer it into a separate account for use in an emergency.
In practical terms, if you’ve got £112.50 in your bank, skim the £2.50 into your saving account. It will leave you with an even £110 and you won’t be likely to notice a few quid missing. As with an emergency jar, it could soon mount up.
These tips can help you to build up a small buffer for things like a five weekend month.
Also read: 5 Ways to Save Money Without Even Trying
Get paid weekly?
People who are paid each and every week sometime budget quite differently.
If you plan your budget week to week then you’ll usually see no difference. However, but if you plan monthly you’ll have more cash in your pocket.
Instead of spending the lot, look to overpay your debt, mortgage and or add more to your savings.
Surviving a 5 weekend month
It’s all very good planning in advance to an extra week a month here and there, but if you’re totally forgotten there are some ways to help you get through.
Use what you have
Just eat whatever is in your freezer and cupboards and don’t buy anything else on top of this. We have done this many times and it’s not only great to clear out older food items, but saves a ton of cash.
Look at what you’ve got and create a meal plan to keep you going.
The idea is that you make the most of what you have so that you don’t have to buy much in the way of extra groceries. You may need to buy some fresh foods but you won’t be spending big because you’ll already have most of what you need.
If you try to buy a bit too much with each of your shops, you’ll have the makings of a store cupboard. You can use it to see you through to the end of a five weekend month.
Make sure you’ve got staples such as pasta, rice, pulses and tins of vegetables in your store cupboard. You’ll then have the basis for lots of meals, so it’s a great idea to keep these in stock as much as you can.
Spices, garlic, onions, frozen vegetables and chopped tomatoes are great additions too as they can be thrown in to a lot of dishes.
Cut back on your spending
Cutting back for one of the weeks leading up to the dreaded fifth weekend gives you freedom in your budget to compensate for any extra spending you hadn’t prepared for.
For one week, only buy the absolute essentials on your grocery shopping for a particular week. Then you should be able to cover buying fresh foods and falling back on your store cupboard for the most part.
If you need to free up some funds to build up a store cupboard, you may need to do this for more than one week.
Be savvy with your fresh buys
Even if you have your store cupboard, you’ll probably need to buy some fresh items such as milk, bread and fruit.
You cut costs by looking for fruit that is in season. Some seasonal veg may be a little different to your normal choices, but they are usually the most cost effective option.
It is possible to live on a very tight budget. It’s not always fun but it is possible.
Don’t get into debt
While getting a quick payday loan may seem like a good idea when you’re really skint it is not a good idea!
I’ve been there, got the t-shirt, ruined my credit score, faced spiralling debt into the 10s of thousands and met my fair share of bailiffs.
Instead, try to work with any budget you do have and buy cheaper food items you may not have considered before.
You may find this useful: 9 Alternatives to Payday Loans
Ask for support
Sometime reaching out to ask for help can feel like you’re admitting to failure. It’s not. It shows you are stronger than you realised.
If you ask family and friends for help, then they’ll be sure to rally together to lend a helping hand. Don’t necessarily ask for money but maybe ask for them to take you for a top up shop.
Explain why you don’t have enough money to see through. Tell them what you’re planning to do so it doesn’t happen again. Being truthful and open will get a load off your shoulders. You may find yourself surprised about how much support you really get.
One year for my birthday, my sister bought me a present of two massive bags full of food. Rather than porridge every day, she spoiled us with a fry up, pancakes, jams, breads – all sorts. It was enough to bring me to tears and one of the most thoughtful gifts a person could ask for when they have no cash.
For day to day help with reducing your supermarket spend, or if you need some help and support for a tight food budget, then come and join our closed community on Facebook. If you want to put in an anonymous request, then just private message one of the page admins and they can ask on your behalf.
Get professional advice
If you find yourself struggling each and every month and your budget isn’t stretching, then it’s well worth reaching out for some free professional support.
You are also able to speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau who can make a referral to a food back using a voucher.
Getting through a five weekend month can be tough, especially if you’ve not had chance to factor it into your budget.
Ideally, this will be something that you plan for in the future, but sometimes it can just creep up on you.
With a bit of forward planning in the time leading up to the dreaded fifth weekend, you can plan for it and help your money to go a bit further.
Do you have any extra tips based on your own experiences of battling through a 5 weekend month?
Ricky Willis is the original Skint Dad. A money-making enthusiast, father, and husband to Naomi. He is always looking for unique ways to earn a little extra.