When you receive pay every two weeks, you may think that it's the equivalent of being paid twice per month. While usually you do get paid twice per month when you receive bi-weekly pay, sometimes you get paid more than twice in a month, depending on how many weeks are in the month. Because there are 52 weeks in a year, there are 26 bi-weekly pay periods. This means that receiving pay every two weeks will result in a different calculation of monthly wages than if you receive your pay twice per month, so multiplying your check by two will not bring you the correct amount.
If you receive bi-weekly pay, you can calculate your monthly earnings using a simple formula. After multiplying your current wages by 26 (the number of bi-weekly pay periods in a year), you can then divide this sum total by 12 in order to calculate your monthly wages.
Calculating Monthly Pay from Bi-Weekly Pay
Your most recent pay stub should show your gross pay amount for that pay period. The gross pay amount is the amount of money you make before any taxes or other deductions, like insurance, are taken out. The pay stub will frequently indicate that a particular amount is your gross pay.
Once you determine your gross pay for that pay period, multiply that figure by 26, because there are 26 two-week periods in 52 weeks, or one year. For example, if your gross pay is listed at $2,500, you will multiply 2,500 by 26, which equals $65,000. This is how much you gross in one year. Because there are 12 months in one year, you can divide this number by 12 to find out your gross monthly wages. $65,000 divided by 12 is $5,416.67. That figure is your monthly gross pay.
Read More: How to Check Your Paycheck
Rarely, such as in a leap year or if your pay is issued on January 1 in a normal year, you may end up having 27 pay periods that year instead of 26. However, if this is the case, you can use the same formula but substitute 27 in the calculation instead of 26. So in the example above, if there are 27 pay periods, you would multiply your gross income for the pay period, $2,500, by 27 and then divide the answer by 12. Multiplying 2,500 by 27 results in $67,500, which divided by 12 is $5,625.
You can also use these formulas to calculate your monthly net income (your take-home pay), by using your take-home pay for that paycheck as the starting number instead of the gross pay.
Bi-Weekly Compared to Semi-Monthly
In contrast, semi-monthly pay, which is payment twice per month, results in an average lower monthly pay if the payment amount is the same. If you are paid semi-monthly, you likely receive your check on two set dates each month, such as the 1st and the 15th. There are only 24 semi-monthly pay periods in one year rather than 26, so if you gross $2,500 per pay period but are paid semi monthly, you would multiply 2,500 by 24, which equals $60,000 per year. If you divide 60,000 by 12, you get $5,000 per month.
Read More: Taxes That Come Out of Paychecks
Based in Texas, Cynthia Measom has been writing various parenting, business and finance and education articles since 2011. Her articles have appeared on websites such as The Bump and Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.