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3 Things to Look for on Your Pay Stub

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3 Things to Look for on Your Pay Stub

A pay stub reveals more details than you may think.


When was the last time you read your pay stub? Do you even know where to access it if you did want to review it? It’s safe to say that most of us are happy when that direct deposit hits our accounts, but that’s about as far as we get in terms of “reviewing” our pay stub.

Can you confidently answer these 3 questions about your pay stub? If not, it may be time to start getting in the habit of regularly reviewing it! We suggest at least once every 6 months.

1.       What am I paying for? Unfortunately, we can’t dodge every payroll deduction. Taxes, child support, and defaulted student loans are automatically deducted like clockwork. We do, however, have some flexibility with voluntary deductions such as 401(k) contributions, insurance plans, and that other employee benefit you signed up for years ago because you thought it was a good idea at the time.

How much have you paid toward that subsidized gym membership that you never use? Or what about that pet insurance you’re still paying for despite switching providers months ago? (True story from one of our clients!)

Or better yet, what about that line item that reads ‘Other Benefits’ that you have no clue what it is you’re even paying for?

2.       How much is being withheld for taxes? Are you paying too much or too little? No one wants to end up with a high tax bill, but don’t get too excited by a large refund check either because all that means is that you gave Uncle Sam a year-long interest-free loan which may have been better off invested in your retirement accounts or used to pay down debt.

Your paystub will tell you how much you have paid so far year-to-date for taxes. This will help you decide whether you should update your W-4 with your employer.

3.       How often am I getting paid? This may seem obvious, but that isn’t always the case. State laws require that employees are paid at regular intervals, which include weekly (52 paychecks), bi-weekly (26 paychecks), semi-monthly (24 paychecks), or monthly (12 paychecks). Knowing how frequently you get paid can simplify budgeting and cash flow for your house.

For example, someone who wants to contribute $6,000 to their IRA over the course of the year may set up automatic contributions of $500 per paycheck if paid monthly or ~$115 per paycheck if paid weekly.

The Bottom Line: 

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Your pay stub reveals a lot of useful information. It can help you keep track of where your money is going and be used as a resource to effectively budget and manage your household cash flow. It’s openly available to you – use it wisely. Honest financial mistakes happen, but some are more costly than others.

Even with an entire HR team behind you, it’s still wise to know where your money is going because at the end of the day, you likely won’t get refunded for that gym membership just because you forgot to cancel it (true story – we caught that line item for a client too!).


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This data is for informational purposes only and Capital Benchmark Partners, LLC ("CBP") is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned nor endorses them. CBP is not endorsed by any third party entities for their inclusion in this article nor is compensated for mentioning them. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable but the accuracy of the information cannot be guaranteed.

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