The Third Weekend – An Odd Budgeting Phenomenon

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The following post is by MPFJ staff writer Travis.  Travis is a customer blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services, and also appears weekly at Enemy of Debt.  Travis candidly shares his personal journey to pay off $109,000 of credit card debt and the tips he’s learned along the way. As a father and husband, he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family.
Regularly scheduled budget talks, looking over recent bills posted to our checking account over breakfast, and planning our spending have become almost daily activities as my wife and I have made tremendous strides in getting a grip on our finances.  We thought we were getting the hang of it, and had all our bases covered, until we encountered something we hadn’t thought of.
The Third Weekend.
The Third Weekend is a phenomenon that happens to us once every three months.  As a software engineer, I get paid bi-monthly.  As this is a our main source of income, it drives our entire budget and spending plan. Since each pay period is about two weeks in length, each budget cycle includes two grocery shopping trips and two weekends.  The problem is that each cycle is really half the month, which is slightly longer than two weeks.  This results in a pay period every three months that has an extra weekend.  
This throws our entire budgeting scheme out the window since the weekend is where we do the majority of our social and entertainment spending.   Each budget cycle has the same amount of funds available for entertainment, but when this phenomenon occurs, we have this third weekend to deal with.
The last time this calendar phenomenon occurred was the second half of September.  During our budget discussion for that pay period, we launched a brainstorming session to come up with solutions.
1.)    Be Hermits: We could simply budget zero funds and treat it like the apocalypse by holding up inside our house and shunning the outside world for the weekend.  Give me NFL football, the Internet, and a bag of chips and I’d be 100% fine with this.  This idea, however, did not go over well with my lovely wife as she is much more of a “have to be around people” person.  It’s also just not realistic.
2.)    Spread the available funds for the pay period between all three weekends: This is the easiest solution to implement, but does significantly impact available funds for three consecutive weekends.
3.)    Spread projected available funds throughout the entire month:  This solution has less impact on a single weekend in the month, but still reduces each weekend’s available funds in that month my a significant amount.
4.)    Treat “The Third Weekend” as an irregular expense and save for it: We would determine how much we would need to remove from each weekend’s discretionary amount to have (roughly) the same amount each weekend, including “The Third Weekend.”
Vonnie and I concluded that #4 was the best idea, as it gives us the most amount of time to plan and prepare for it.  It also provides consistency in the amount of funds we have available for each weekend.  The most important thing when dealing with known irregular expenses or budget anomalies is to determine to the best of your ability when they will occur, and plan for them.
Do you experience “The Third Weekend” or some other odd budget phenomenon?  If so, how do you handle it?

    ***Photo courtesy of


    1. I could do this too. Be Hermit for like 3 days as long as i have my guitar, computer, and the internet. That's for sure.
      My recent post The joys of minimising

      • travispizel says:

        Right on, Stuart! I used to play the piano and saxophone and have always wanted to learn how to play guitar. Between music and the internet I could hide from the world for 3 days EASY. Thanks for your comment!
        My recent post What’s Your Measuring Stick for Value?

    2. Hey, Travis! I'd keep the budget the way it is so you can do what you like on the other 3 weekends. Then you could make the third weekend reserved for nearly free activities. Some ideas for that: potluck to watch football game, volunteer somewhere, take a walk or hike at a park, work on a craft, try a new recipe, start a house project, have friends over for a game night or movie night with everyone bringing an appetizer. Good luck with it! I'm sure you and Vonnie can work out something that suits both of you.

      • travispizel says:

        Hey Maggie, you've tracked me down on another website. Haha! I sure could do it, but Vonnie is far too social to believe we could possibly commit to having no funds available for a weekend. It would really be a different mindset for her…..not that she couldn't do it – she can do anything she puts her mind to. She just prefers “options” and would rather do one of the other plans. Great to hear from you, thanks for sharing your thoughts!
        My recent post What’s Your Measuring Stick for Value?

    3. Patricia M-P says:

      Hey, I am a woman and I like the Hermit plan. I have two children in college, so I hide from them on a regular basis anyway.

      • travispizel says:

        That's why my parents never answered the phone when I was in college! 🙂 Well, Patircia, maybe I should have you give my wife a call, my number is……LOL. Thanks for reading and commenting!
        My recent post What’s Your Measuring Stick for Value?

    4. I would totally choose hermit, hubby would however not let me. I’d be happy to stay home and play with kiddo and cook to my hearts content…I think we need to start budgeting for these extra outings though!


      • travispizel says:

        I'm honestly surprised, Catherine (@plungedindebt), that every commenter thus far has said they'd be willing to choose the hermit option. I said it as a joke even though I could and would totally do it, and I knew that Vonnie would just laugh at me. Given that, I also thought it would inject a bit of humor into the post. Imagine my surprise at how many readers would actually pick that option! Maybe we could all get together and be hermits together….I bet we'd have a great time. 🙂
        My recent post What’s Your Measuring Stick for Value?

    5. We're paid biweekly, so we have two (or sometimes three) months with three paychecks instead of two. So the checking account ebbs and flows a bit. We're usually glad when that extra paycheck month comes around; the extra buffer is nice.
      My recent post The bargain of friendship

    6. Ugh, we have this all the time because I get paid once a month, and my husband' s disability generally follow suit mere days afterward. So we have to be able to plan for about 30 days' of expenses ahead of time. It rarely goes as planned. And it's always a little iffy because my check arrives anywhere between the 9th and 12th of the month.

      This past month was pretty bad thanks a vacation right after FinCon and an already short month. My check was about 25% lighter, and so this past week and the next 10 or so days are pretty tight. We've been doing the hermit thing — which isn't all that out of the ordinary anyway — but it's also forced us to get back some of our discipline. For example, I've actually (gasp) made it a priority to cook. Crazy. So in some ways this is good for us. I'm hoping this attitude will continue even after the next check shows up.

    7. We use YNAB and it enables us the ability to apply the rare 3x month paycheck to the next month so we're ahead a bit each month before we start.
      My recent post Random Money Thoughts: Are You Serious?

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