Where Your Money Goes: How To Read Your Pay Stub

By Barri Segal

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Although much of this info. seems like a no-brainer, keep in mind that your pay stub contains important pieces of information and it’s important that you understand each piece. It’s also crucial that you check your stub to make sure it’s accurate, and let your employer know if there are any mistakes.


Most people might think of their paychecks as one thing only: money in the bank. However, a paycheck stub contains valuable information that could help you improve your money management skills.

Although companies print different types of paychecks, there are some common details that are required by law.

Typically, a pay stub will include the following information: gross pay, net pay, federal and state tax withholdings, Social Security and Medicare deductions, and your year-to-date totals for your earnings and deductions. Here’s exactly what information you’ll find on a pay stub and what it all means for you.

Your pay stub is the part of a paper paycheck that you keep after you cash or deposit the check. Typical information that appears on your pay stub includes the number of hours you worked during the pay period, the gross and net amount you made, a breakdown of the taxes you paid and a list of tax deductions.

You might be confused about the difference between your gross earnings and net pay. Gross pay is the total amount of income you earned during a pay period, which is typically one month or two weeks. Gross pay doesn’t factor in your tax withholdings, like federal income tax.

Net pay is the amount of income that you actually take home after all your taxes and withholdings have been deducted, which includes your federal tax deductions. In other words, net pay is the actual amount of money that you deposit in the bank.

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