Ohhhh, so THIS is why you need an emergency fund….

by Erika Torres

It’s like Karma just doesn’t want me to have my cake and eat it too.

On Friday, I was really pissed for about 30 minutes. Eric says I get pissed all the time, but really, I only get really pissed when something really pisses me off. Ok?

And this particular incident on Friday was one of those times.

We all know that the greatest thing to happen to us since the day we got married occurred last month.

After three years of working his butt off and suffering with crappy hours and crappy pay, Eric finally got hired as a full-time firefighter.

He took a two-week leave from work, and started the fire academy on Jan. 6.

All this time, we’ve been looking forward to his first firefighter paycheck on Jan. 24.

We’ve been struggling this month with having a bunch of stuff due at one time (Eric’s two-year gym membership renewal, our six month car insurance, my school registration).  It didn’t help that the last paycheck Eric received was in mid-December.

Also, I was really looking forward to finally getting a start on that audacious savings goal.

So imagine my “pissed-offed”-edness  (totally a word, right?) when Eric texts me Friday and tells me that his paycheck–the one we’ve been waiting for for 3.5 years– still has his old payrate on it from when he was working as a lowly ambulance operator.

I almost flipped.


“What do you mean it’s your old payrate?!”

The check came out to about a third of what we were expecting. It was completely Payroll’s fault because they never changed his payrate from his old position to his new position. And when he told them their mistake, they said he wouldn’t be able to get the rest of his rightfully-due paycheck until the next paydate, Feb. 8.


It was a such a shock, and I was so angry at the situation. This is outrage! What they’re doing is illegal! I am so MAD! This is not fair! Karma, what have I done to deserve this?!  


I told Eric that he better tell payroll “Thank goodness my wife is financially savvy enough and has a suitable emergency fund to get us through paying our rent which is due next week and we won’t have to risk visiting food banks to supply us with groceries because your department is incompetent.”

overreactingYes, I really texted him that.

What? Do you think I overreacted a little?

Of course, after about 30 minutes or so, I calmed down… I was still heavily annoyed, but not as pissed as I was when I first heard the news.

In the end, it’s really not a big deal… I transferred the money over from our emergency account and was able to pay rent and we’ll be fine and get all caught up in February.

It was just a huge inconvenience and annoyance.

But you know what really pisses me off about the whole situation?

Is that now, I won’t know what Eric’s real paycheck amount will be until the end of February (because his next check will be inflated due to the extra pay that is due).

And that means, that I can’t plug in numbers into our financial spreadsheet to estimate what our budget will really be like in  2014.

I know, I know, I am such a dork.



Taxes: Writing a $4,000 check to the IRS | Newlyweds on a Budget April 25, 2014 - 7:48 am

[…] getting off to a slow start in January because Eric didn’t get his first full paycheck from his new job until February, we have been working really hard to catch […]

Cameon February 24, 2014 - 5:50 am

Oh don’t even get me started on this topic! My husband is a firefighter as well, and at the beginning of the year he needed to make some changes to insurance policies, etc., also got a raise, and had worked some holiday and over time (which I’m thankful for don’t get me wrong). It took FOREVER for everything to work out to where I knew his actual minimal take home pay every week. Drove me nuts so I definitely feel for you!

H February 6, 2014 - 12:05 am

that happened to me once! it was horrible! by the time they payed my salary i just had a enough money to buy bread and toothpaste!!! and you know why it piss me off? people not caring!!!! how could someone not care about ppl paycheck?????

Catherine February 5, 2014 - 7:20 pm

Haha totally get you wanting to know. I’d be pissed too. I’m always getting pissed with my husbands HR (like the fact that we spend hundreds per month out of pocket for expenses and it takes them weeks to process it…). Thankfully you’re a money hoarder 😉

Nicole February 1, 2014 - 1:38 pm

Ugh! How frustrating and infuriating.

I work in payroll in Canada, and in my experience, we don’t make someone wait for the next pay period when there’s been an error like that. We consider that financial hardship.

The adjustment should be split out from his regular earnings on his next paystub, so while it won’t be exact, you’ll have a better idea. But it still sucks.

Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans January 31, 2014 - 11:03 am

Honestly, I would be pretty pissed off, too! I don’t think you overreacted at all. When someone messes with my money – it’s on!

Erin @ Gen Y Finances January 30, 2014 - 7:34 am

This month would’ve been a great time to have a decent e-fund for us. We used it to pay off debt and then my MIL died unexpectedly and we had to take over 3 weeks off work and leave the country to be with his family. I will NEVER go without an emergency fund again, as I definitely had to charge the trip and even a few bills.

That sucks that you won’t know his actual income until the end of February. My husband and I are both on irregular incomes and it can be tough to budget. However, it’s nice as well, because pleasant surprises come often 🙂

Cat Alford (@BudgetBlonde) January 29, 2014 - 10:32 am

Haha I totally get you. One of my credit cards got frozen from the Target incident and they wouldn’t let me see my history, so I asked them to read me every single thing I spent since January 15 so I could plug it into my spreadsheet. I think they really liked me for that one!

Also what a pain about Eric. Something similar happened to me at work when I switched from part time to full time. It took about a month for it to get readjusted and I felt like a baller!

Katy @ Katytrackslife January 28, 2014 - 1:47 pm

This is my favourite post here EVER!

It combines his new job, your savvy emergency fund, conquering an obstacle and laugh out loud gifs.

Love it!

ps – so good you have the emergency fund right!

Sonya January 27, 2014 - 2:43 pm

I would have freaked too! I can’t imagine if that had happened and we weren’t prepared. I would have absolutely died.

eemusings January 27, 2014 - 1:31 pm

I totally freaked out when I didn’t get paid in December. At all. And it was payday right before Christmas, soooo… LAME. Got on HR when we were back at work in Jan and for some reason they input my bank account wrong (WTF? I’ve been working here for years!) So it’s been a stressful time for us too. Boo. Definitely made me realise how hard it is to miss a paycheck when you’re paid monthly rather than weekly.

OC Budget January 27, 2014 - 1:29 pm

That sucks!

I, too, have unexpected (car repairs and partner’s financial aid got suspended..so books and tuition is going to cost us alot until we can appeal it) costs this month that I would rather not use my measley emergency fund that took FOREVER to build.

At least, you know that you are going to get paid the difference and you can transfer that money right back into the emergency fund.

The pictures were hilarious!

Poor fat chick January 27, 2014 - 1:23 pm

Similar situation happened after my boyfriend was promoted to supervisor a couple of year ago and they screwed up his pay check. I was more annoyed that I wouldn’t get the real number of his pay check for another month so I had to wait to do the budget.. So I understand your pain.
Oh and you are not a dork.. we are (what I like to call) budget nerds.. but hey it works.. cause without that budget you would have not have had that fund and been able to pay the rent/food..

Jolene January 27, 2014 - 12:34 pm

LOL! the last bit – about not knowing the right $$ for your budget until the end of the month – would peeve me too!! glad it’s getting fixed though 🙂

E.M. January 27, 2014 - 11:55 am

Ugh how annoying! I hate that transitional period in between jobs, waiting for your new paycheck to arrive. It’s always good to be prepared, even if it’s being prepared because of the incompetency of others. I like knowing the exact take-home amount for budgetary reasons, too. My boyfriend gets bonuses every month based on the sales he does in addition to his regular paycheck, and we never know what they’ll amount to with taxes taken out.

anna January 27, 2014 - 10:39 am

That second pic is so hilarious, I was dying! But in all seriousness, that really blows – hopefully they straighten out so the spreadsheet balance can be restored (not dorky, I totally get it. ;)).

jadell January 27, 2014 - 9:49 am

My husband is on call one weekend a month. This results in an inflated paycheck on the 15th of each month. This 15th pay came with double the weekend pay do to a mistake by the payroll dept. To compensate, they informed us that the next 1st paycheck will have that much less. Oh, but wait, this is where it gets good. Because his weekend pay is considered a “bonus”, they are taking out almost 100% of what we see with normal weekend pay. This means instead of something like 10% taxes they are taking back something like 50% taxes. Oh, yes, we will get the money back–with our tax return, in 2015!! When $200-300 makes a difference in the budget, it really hurts that they are taking out over $400 from his next check.

I hope this all makes sense. Sometimes I wonder about the competency of the payroll dept! (I guess I should be grateful it’s only $400 and not $2500 like his coworker, who worked 2 weekends and a holiday)

Nomes February 1, 2014 - 11:09 am

oh my goodness. This is definately one of those times that when you feel bad for the other person you are so glad it is not you. The poor co-worker!

Raquel@Practical Cents January 27, 2014 - 9:20 am

What a bummer! This happened to me once with a promotion. It’s a drag but like you said I was prepared financially and that helped.

Tonya@Budget and the Beach January 27, 2014 - 9:01 am

This reminds me of all the freelance BS I have to deal with. Empty promises on when I should be receiving something. I should be getting a huge bonus for referring some work to my producer but that bonus check just keeps getting put off for one reason or another. I think in past times I really would have panicked, but like you I have back up plans which help me develop some more patience. I WILL get the check, it’s just a matter of when. I can understand your frustration.

CeCe @Pink Sunshine January 27, 2014 - 8:48 am

So annoying!!! I’d be pissed too. What if you didn’t have any savings? That’s kind of crappy that payroll is just like; oh well next month. Well, the good thing is that you do and that it is coming even if it’s late. One more month!!! I’m like you. I like to have all the ducks in a row and now that’s one more month until you know exactly what his new check is and can start getting your bills all set up how you want.

Tanner January 27, 2014 - 8:17 am

You know, sometimes we do adjust paychecks and they don’t show up until the next week (our employees are paid weekly), but the “mistakes” are normally less than $50 or so. If it’s anything higher, I know that we’d overnight FedEx them the money. Thankfully, we’ve never really made a BIG mistake like that, but seriously, that’s very messed up, and I am sure they could fix it up sooner with some pressure. But Alas, yes, it is better to take a deep breath and move away from the issue. I know exactly what you mean about being unable to fix your spreadsheets. Heck, I am OCT and impatient over 3 days, imagine how I am over 1 full month! (Or in the case of taxes, over 12 months!). It’s true; for them, it may be one more mistake, but for someone without that kind of financial pillow, it can be quite disastrous. I had a teacher who was almost kicked out right after moving to a different state because the university messed up his payrate AND his hours. He was young, single, and had no backing. He had to borrow money from friends just to make it through his first month as a transfer. What a nightmare!

newlywedsonabudget January 27, 2014 - 8:26 am

Yeah, I am really glad that this wasn’t a costly mistake for us but rather just one big annoyance. And since my husband is the new guy, I know that he doesn’t feel comfortable raising a stink about it. Even though he’s rightly entitled to his correct pay.

Army Amy January 27, 2014 - 7:32 am

That blows! It totally sounds like the kind of thing that would happen to us (the military is always messing up paperwork and then giving you the run around to fix it even though it wasn’t your fault!). It IS a good thing y’all are prepared. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with being pissed, expressing it, and then letting it go. I hope the next paycheck is all that much sweeter because you’ll be getting the money they stiffed you out of!

Janelle B. January 27, 2014 - 7:25 am

Why don’t you use a salary calculator to estimate his normal earnings? I have found them to be very accurate, within a cent or two of my actual paystub. Experiment with your own paystub to ensure you have the boxes checked right for deductions and then plug in your husband’s information.

newlywedsonabudget January 27, 2014 - 8:27 am

Well, I have a ballpark range, but because of my husband’s firefighter schedule, he works a 56-hour week instead of 40 hours. And he only gets overtime for when he goes over 40 hours a week. It’s pretty hard to calculate his exact pay, plus I’d have to deduct union dues… and he gets a bonus for health insurance. Too many variables, ugh!

Tiffany January 27, 2014 - 6:33 am

OMG I would be losing my MIND!! I completely understand, I need to know exactly how much is coming in at all times so I can budget properly. I know this is driving you absolutely insane. I had an issue with my daughters insurance: they were charging me a premium based on an income that…is not my income. Soonce I caught it and called them on it, they tell me they have my 2 paystubs with this amount, which is correct, and that I’m recieving child support in this amount. Problem is someone added a couple of extra zeros to the child support amount!! So now I have to wait for them to fix it and rebudget my case. Seriously? Try to “woosah”, it sucks but nothing can be done at the moment. Some people are just so imcompetent.

newlywedsonabudget January 27, 2014 - 8:28 am

I hear you!!! It sucks when you feel so powerless to the situation–but hats off to you because that seems like a much bigger issue. Good thing you caught it early on!

MomofTwoPreciousGirls January 27, 2014 - 5:48 am

And I bet your hubby is all nonchalant about it! It will drive you nuts until the end of February and he will be like get over it!

This is how it goes in my house too. It helps that we budget month to month using the prior months income! For example this month is a pain bc of my checks. The first check of the year had new hsa and daycare FAA amounts coming out, but the final insurance premiums for last year. My second check included my monthly bonus so impossible to figure what was strictly from my standard pay and then I’ll get a third. That will be my first indication of what to expect each paycheck. It drives me bonkers!

newlywedsonabudget January 27, 2014 - 8:31 am

yeah he definitely asked them if he could get a new check, but they made it seem like it would be really big pain so he dropped it right away. He’s lucky I wasn’t there!

Andy January 27, 2014 - 5:34 am

My husband’s company gave him a raise in August. The woman who processes it didn’t do anything until January. JANUARY. Now it has to.go through corporate and THEN she can submit the form for back pay…..from August. I told him basically the same thing…tell that lady she is lucky your wife works or this could seriously hurt us.

End rant.

newlywedsonabudget January 27, 2014 - 8:29 am


Downstairs and in Debt January 27, 2014 - 5:01 am

Uggh that sucks!! It’s good that you’re getting the money but still annoying. Recently I noticed my pay increased by $30 every two weeks. I thought “WHAT IS THIS? WHERE IS THIS COMING FROM? WHAT DID THEY FORGET TO DEDUCT?” and immediately when to H.R….it turns out the government made a change to the tax percentages deducted from our pays….whoops…

newlywedsonabudget January 27, 2014 - 8:30 am

haha an extra $30??? not sure I would question that! my paycheck does oscillate within a $100 range simply bc I have certain deductions and I get certain little bonuses for riding my bike to work, but still $100 range is nothing compared to just missing a ginormous chunk of your pay

Mark Ross @moneysavingdude January 27, 2014 - 4:55 am

Well, that’s just unfortunate. I hope things can be settled immediately. Being unable to prepare your budget really does suck, but it’s not a big deal. I know you can handle it. Good luck! 🙂

Jenni Tulip January 27, 2014 - 3:21 am

I’m not surprised how annoyed you were! I would have been the same. Proves how important an emergency budget is and so many people don’t have one for times like you experienced.

Jenni x
The Thrifty Magpies Nest

newlywedsonabudget January 27, 2014 - 8:32 am

Yeah it made me wonder what other people who weren’t financially prepared would do in our situation. I’m really glad that we don’t live paycheck to paycheck anymore. And even when we were really broke, we still always had at least $1,000 in savings for this exact type of thing.


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