Understanding Your Paystub

Each week, your employer hands you a paystub–what do you do with it?

Some of us might think nothing of it and throw it in the trash, but that’s a big mistake! Your paystub is an important document that lets you know how much you’ve been paid each week.

It’s the best way to check that your income matches the number of hours you worked, so you should take it seriously. To learn more, keep reading to find a guide to understanding your paystub.

Personal Details

At the top of your paycheck stub, you’ll usually find your personal details, including your name, address, your job title, and your social security number.

If anything doesn’t look right, or an old address is being used, notify your HR department and ask for an update. If your address is incorrect, this means your tax documents and IRS paperwork might be sent to the wrong address.

Gross Pay

Your gross pay is the total amount of money you earned within the pay period, before any taxes or deductions have been taken out.

You’ll also see a smaller number, known as your net or take-home pay. This is the actual amount of money that’s landing in your bank account, after taxes have been withheld.

Number of Hours Worked

On your paystub, you’ll notice the total number of hours you worked. This might be broken down into regular hours and overtime hours, which qualify for a higher rate of pay.

Make sure the hours worked match your own records, as you want to be sure you’re being paid correctly. This section might also include the number of hours taken as annual leave or sick days.

This is great if you’re employed by a business, but what if you’re self-employed? To make it easier to track your hours, these payroll stub templates to fill in can help.


When learning how to read your paycheck stub, pay attention to the amount of tax withheld. It can be confusing, but your paystub will include both your federal and state taxes (if you are subject to state income tax).

While it can be stressful to see so much of your income taken out as tax, this actually makes it much easier to file your taxes at the end of the year.

Rather than paying a big lump sum, you pay a small amount of tax each week, which makes it more manageable. Plus, many people will qualify for a tax return when they file.

Take the Time to Review Your Paystub Each Week

Each time you receive your weekly paystub, take a few minutes to look over everything and make sure it’s correct. You work hard each week, so it’s important to make sure you’re being paid the correct amount.

If you do see anything that looks wrong, let your manager or HR department know—they should be able to fix it for you quickly.

If this article was helpful, please keep reading to learn more.


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