Enter Dollar-Cost Averaging…
According to Investopedia, “Dollar-Cost Averaging (DCA) ) is an investment technique of buying a fixed dollar amount of a particular investment on a regular schedule, regardless of the share price. More shares are purchased when prices are low, and fewer shares are bought when prices are high. It is also referred to as a constant dollar plan.”
My thought was if I could get my paws on some dough earlier in the month (and more frequently than once a month) I would reduce the amount of volatility and risk my money was subjected to by giving myself better odds at timing the market properly.
And that is all fine and good – but the amount of money I am investing isn’t worth the amount of hassle my twice-monthly paycheck turned out to be…
As a once-a-month-paycheck kinda girl, my finances were on autopilot. I knew how much was going to my 401K (20%), HSA, ESPP (Employee Stock Purchase Plan), Savings, Investments, and Checking account. Whatever was leftover went directly into my savings account never to be touched again. Easy peasy, had I kept it that way. But once I switched over to a bimonthly pay schedule the shit really hit the fan!
Here is how it works – I get paid this month for the hours I worked last month. So in July, I am being paid for Junes hours. With that in mind, I thought that meant they took my 5th paycheck of the month out of the same paycheck for the 20th. I was wrong. They took the money I was paid in March out of April 20th’s paycheck. Example:
- March 5 – draw $2800 from April 20th pay
- March 20th – Pay from all hours in February
- April 5 – draw $2800 from May 20th pay
- April 20th – Pay all hours from March minus March 5th draw of $2800
- May 5 – draw $2800 from June 20th pay
- May 20th – Pay all hour from April minus April 5th draw of $2800
- June 5 – draw $2800 from July 20th pay
Confused? I was. In fact, when I was paid that February 20th paycheck, I called payroll and told them they had forgotten to withdraw the money I had gotten on the 5th. Yeah. Right. Free money? That never happens (or does it…stay tuned). She explained it was a draw for the future paycheck and, after her going over it a couple times with me, I pretended to know what the heck she was saying and hung up in agreeance. I decided I would understand it in due time but, alas, it wasn’t until this month that I truly understood her explanation…more on that in a bit.
With a twice-monthly pay schedule in place, I now had to change my direct deposit allotments as well. If I had allotted $300 per month to my ESPP, I now had to change my allotment to $150 so each draw would now equal $300 for the month. If not, I would continue to get $300 per PAYCHECK, in turn, purchasing $600 a month in my airlines stock…even at a 10% discount that thought was unappealing. So I went through and changed all of my direct deposits and automatically withdraws to meet the new pay structure. Done? No… The transition was anything but seamless and had me dodging curveballs for the next few months. Here is how it all went down…
1. Somehow, something glitched in payroll and they deposited the leftover savings to one of my accounts but not the one I had allocated it to.
2. Then, something went wrong with my ESPP and they didn’t deposit anything! When I called to inquire the lady couldn’t figure out why it hadn’t been deposited but assured me the next month it would…um, so yeah, I missed out on a whole month of contributions.
3. Then, one of my other direct deposits started depositing DOUBLE the amount of deposits and essentially giving me free money. Yes, free money! I checked my pay stub against the bank deposits and there was extra money unaccounted for. *This has since been straightened out but, had I not called again, who knows how long it could have gone on for!!
4. And, to top it all off, I had to keep on top of delegating my investment fund monies into the proper accounts now 2x a month instead of the one. Ugh…first world problems 😉
So, yeah, all of this time and frustration was not adding up to saving me from the volatility I was trying to avoid – whether it was my money or my sanity, I was losing it big time. I needed to smooth the curve once again. And so I did. After a few months of experimenting, I decided the 2 paycheck deal wasn’t for me.
On June 20th, I set out to undo everything I had done and went back to the single pay period that I had been so used to. I put in the request and watched the confirmation number pop up…and I immediately relaxed. The ride of uncertainty was over – I was home free!!! For the past 30 days, I have been looking forward to my July 20 paycheck. I planned ahead with a small cushion knowing the July 5th paycheck would no longer be deposited. I just had to make it through 30 days and I would be rolling in it. All was going swimmingly…until the 20th came around and I realized my fatal financial flaw…
UGH…Remember that nice lady from payroll that I had spoken with on the phone? Well, I didn’t. When July 20th came around, I excitedly typed in my bank name and password and scanned the page for my newest payroll deposit. There was none. $0. Zilch. I forgot to deduct the $2800 from my monthly pay that I had received on June 5th…in turn, I came up short on that account.
- June 5 – draw $2800 from July 20th pay
- June 20th – Pay for all hours in May minus May 5th draw of $2800
- NO JULY 5 PAYCHECK
- July 20th – Pay for all hours in June MINUS June 5th draw of $2800.
I have painfully relived this past month for you in an effort to shine the spotlight on the fact that complicating things for a few pennies often times is not worth the time it takes to sort it all out. Make your life as simple as possible. Do as I say and not as I did…