Your monthly paycheck always comes with a little piece of paper called a pay stub—but do you ever take the time to read it?

Many of us are focused on our paycheck but forget about the importance of a pay stub. What are pay stubs, you might be wondering?

They are a document from your employer that you’ll receive each time you get paid, explaining how much you were paid and giving a breakdown of where your earned money is going.

If you want to learn how to read a pay stub (and actually understand it!), this guide can help.

Employee Earnings

When it comes to pay stub info, the part that’s going to be of the most interest is employee earnings. How much did you get paid?

Your total amount of take-home pay will be listed on your pay stub, along with your gross pay (the amount you earned before taxes and deductions).

It will also outline the number of hours worked and any overtime hours. Always double-check this against your own records, as payroll mistakes can happen and you want to be sure you’re paid the correct amount.


Taxes can be confusing, as the amount of tax paid varies based on your state. Everyone pays federal income tax, but some states have no income tax.

However, your pay stub will clearly outline how much tax you’ve paid on both a state and federal level. Although it can feel a bit depressing to see how much money you’ve paid in tax, know that it’s much easier to have a small amount withheld from each pay, rather than paying a large lump sum at the end of the year.


Next, your pay stub will list any deductions taken from your pay, such as health insurance and retirement. Make sure your deductions appear correctly on your pay stub.

However, what if you’re self-employed and you’re funding your own retirement and insurance? One way to make it easier to track your expenses and deductions is by creating your own payslips each month for your records.

You can check out this paystub generator to learn more.

Employer Contributions

If your employers are making any contributions, like employee benefits or one-off bonuses, they’ll be listed on your pay stub as well. Any employer contributions to your retirement plans will be listed here as well.

Learn How to Read a Pay Stub With This Guide

Know that you know how to read a pay stub, use this guide to look over your payslip each month. You work hard for your income, so it’s worth taking the time to make sure your employer is paying you correctly.

If anything looks wrong with your pay stub, always talk to your manager or payroll team right away, so they can get it fixed for you.

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