Many people like to project how much money they'll have to pay bills, add to savings or spend on discretionary items for the entire year. Because of the different deductions taken from your paycheck each period, you'll need to do some math to determine what you have leftover after taxes. You can start by projecting your gross monthly income using how much you've made so far this year.
Depending on whether you're paid weekly, twice each month or monthly, you can use different formulas. Calculating your gross monthly income won't help much with budgeting, because your take-home pay is what counts. Either way, it's not that difficult to quickly figure out what your monthly earnings will be this year.
Gross vs. Net Income
The total amount you're paid before your employer takes out deductions is your gross income. Let's say your employer pays you a salary of $4,000 per month. Instead of giving you that $4,000 each month, your employer must deduct your FICA taxes (for Social Security and Medicare), as well as any benefits you've arranged to take, such as optional insurance (e.g., vision, dental, medical), a 401(k) contribution or a health savings account contribution.
Your employer deducts 7.65 percent of your pay and remits it to the U.S. government to pay your FICA payroll requirement. Your employer matches that and pays an extra 7.65 percent, giving you a total 15.3 percent contribution to your future Social Security and Medicare benefits. The amount of money you receive after your employer deducts these payroll taxes and any benefits from your paycheck is your net pay.
Start With Your Payment Schedule
Some companies pay employees each week, usually on a Friday. Others pay twice each month, often on the 1st and 15th of each month, paying a day or two later based on whether or not those days fall on a weekend or holiday. Other companies pay every other week, giving you 26 paychecks rather than 24.
Knowing your payment frequency and how many checks you've received so far is necessary to calculate your average gross monthly income, based on how much you've earned to date.
Check Your Latest Pay Stub
Whether you're paid with a paper check or electronically, you should have a means of examining each payment to see your gross income received so far, along with your deductions. Look for your gross income on your latest paycheck, then look for the gross income year-to-date figure. That's what you'll use to calculate your monthly gross income.
Let's say you earn $50,000 per year and you're paid twice per month on the 1st and 15th (24 times per year). If you've received 12 paychecks (covering six months) and your gross income year-to-date is $25,000, divide $25,000 by six months. Your monthly gross income is $4,166.66.
If you are paid 26 or 52 times per year, remember that some months have five weeks, or one extra pay period in them. If you are paid weekly, you will receive four paychecks most months and five checks in the others. If you are paid 26 times per year, you will receive two checks most months and three checks in the others.
To learn what you'll make those months, figure out your weekly gross take-home amount and multiply it by four and five, and then again by two and three, to see what your monthly gross pay will be in different months. If you don't need to know those exact numbers, simply calculate your average monthly number for the year.
How Benefits Affect Take-Home Pay
You'll pay less in taxes if you have certain benefits taken out of your paycheck. For example, if you earn $4,000 per month and you have no benefits, you pay 7.65 percent of your $4,000 in FICA taxes. If you opt to take advantage of extra, voluntary benefits that you pay for and cost you $300 per month, you only pay 7.65 percent on $3,700. That's because you did not receive $4,000 in wages, you only received $3,700.