How to Make Money Last When You Get Paid Once a Month

As a family, we have always lived off only Tom’s income. This always allowed us additional spending money — and debt payoff money from my income. I am so thankful that we have stuck to this method over the years and I believe we saved ourselves a lot of additional financial hardship by doing it this way. However, one of the toughest struggles we faced was to make our money last the entire month. You see, Tom gets paid one time at the very beginning of the month. We weren’t always great at budgeting this money and often found ourselves with nothing left 2 weeks into the month. Yeah…2 weeks. Now we have perfected our system and have great tips on how to make your money last when you get paid once a month.

*This post contains affiliate links. Although I may make a commission, all recommendations are my own.

Do a budget analysis

If you are struggling to make your money last throughout the month, (even if you get paid more than once a month,) the first thing to do is a budget analysis.

I have a great printout for this in my Fun Sized Budget Bundle that will help you break down your budget, analyze your spending, and help you create a solid budget that works.

When doing a budget analysis it’s important to go through your last 3 months of spending to find areas where you are wasting money. That could mean unplanned shopping trips, liquor store, fast food or any other spending that isn’t necessary.

Once you take a moment to realize how much money you are spending on unnecessary things throughout the month, you begin to see a lot more clearly why you are not able to make money last.

Create a solid budget

Creating a solid budget that works is something I recommend for everyone. Especially if you only get paid once a month.

If you are only getting paid once a month, a budget is crucial to helping you survive the entire month without having to rely on credit cards, digging into your savings or eating cracker crumbs for dinner. Trust me, we’ve been there.

There are additional budgeting sheets in my Fun Sized Budget Bundle where you can perfect your budget and make sure you are staying within your financial means.

The first step when starting your budget is to take your monthly pay and then subtract all of your bills.

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Get paid, schedule your bills.

Paying your bills is a top priority when you only get paid once a month.

We personally schedule all of our bills to come out on the 1st of the month., because Tom gets paid at the end of the previous month. So, if he gets paid on the 30th, our bills will then come out the 1st.

Make sure you are immediately paying off your bills. No matter when you get paid.

The last thing you want to do is over-spend throughout the month and not be able to afford an important bill payment.

Budget for savings, gas, spending money and emergency funds

If you don’t have an emergency fund set up, it’s crucial that you make that happen. The recommended starter emergency fund is $1,000. Here are some tips on how to save this.

Saving an emergency fund

If you don’t have an emergency fund set up, it’s crucial that you make that happen. The recommended starter emergency fund is $1,000. Here are some tips on how to save this.

An emergency fund is necessary to help you make your money last when you only get paid once a month. It can help prevent you from needing to spend part of your paycheck on an emergency. Worse yet, it can prevent you from racking up credit card debt.


If you are completely debt free, it’s important that you are adding money into a savings account each month. My top recommended savings account is the Savings Builder with CIT Bank that requires only $100 per month and will give you an interest rate of 2.45%.

See all savings accounts that pay you to save.

Gas budget

When you go through your last 3 months of spending, make sure to calculate the average amount of money you spend on gas each month.

You can do this by adding up your total spent each month, adding the cost of all three months together and then dividing by three.

To set up a successful budget that works, finding out how much you spend on gas each month is going to be crucial. Make sure you budget for a little cushion here as well. You don’t want to find yourself with an empty tank and 5 days still left in the month.

Spending money

If you are struggling to make money last when you get paid once a month, chances are part of it is because of unplanned spending on fun things.

I am a firm believer in having spending money set aside in your budget. I think it helps you reach your goals and keep your finances on track. Plus, your budget should be something that helps you control your money and gives you permission to spend.

Check out this awesome post from Dave Ramsey’s daughter, Rachel Cruz on why a budget is your best friend when it comes to fun money.

Split your grocery budget into weeks

Grocery shopping without a budget or a plan is a major mistake people make, especially for those who only get paid once a month.

We are so guilty of this! Years ago when we would go grocery shopping, we would just head to the store and buy whatever we wanted at the time. There was no meal planning, no budget and no plan.

You might be able to guess that this didn’t leave us with very many groceries by the end of the month. Or very much money.

Meal prepping

While I have gotten much better at my meal prepping and budgeting skills throughout the years, I know not everyone is good in this area. If you are wanting to create healthy meals for your family on a budget, visit the $5 Meal Plan.

The $5 Meal Plan was created by a busy mother of 4 to help other moms make healthy, budget-friendly foods for their families. Learn more here.

Breaking your budget into weeks

When you get paid once a month, break your budget down into weeks. This will help to make your money (and your food) last. And it is a pretty simple method.

  1. Calculate a grocery budget for the month ($100 per person in your household or around 10% of your income.)
  2. Once you have your total budget amount for the month, divid this number by 4 (the amount of weeks in the month.)
  3. When you go grocery shopping make sure you are calculating your spending in order to stick to your weekly budget amount.

I know that this can sound tough when you are used to just being able to shop for whatever you feel like. But, there is a very simple way to help you get organized and stay on budget when it comes to grocery shopping.

Helpful shopping posts:

Do a Pantry Inventory

Next time, before you go shopping, take a second to do a pantry inventory. I have a printout in my Fun Sized Budget Bundle for this, but you can always just grab a piece of scratch paper.

Browse your pantry before you head out to go grocery shopping and make note of all the foods you already have in your pantry. Then, come up with ideas for meals that you can make using the items that you already have.

In any situation, the best way to make money last is by working with what you’ve already got!

Once you have a few meal ideas planned out, you can create a grocery list by filling in what items you will still need in order to complete all of your meals! So simple!

Stick to it

Living on a budget, especially when you get paid once a month, can be tough. The important thing to do: make sure you stick with it!

It may take you a few months to get the hang of your budget and you will definitely have to do some tweaking. Just stick with it, I promise.

Be smart with your money and find a budget that works. It’s the best way to make your money last when you get paid once a month and will help create long term results.


  1. DNN | 24th Feb 19

    I used to be a spendaholic, but frugal nowadays.

    • Renee | 24th Feb 19

      It’s definitely the better way to live!

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