Leap Day: Financial Pros and Cons

2024 is a leap year and this Thursday February 29 a leap day, giving you one more day to achieve your goals — and pay interest on your loans.

1 Leap Year 2024 equal to 366 opportunities seen through a hole in ripped blue paper.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

2024 is a leap year, an event that happens every four years so that our calendars will be synchronized with the solar calendar. This accounts for the fact that the earth's complete orbit is actually 365 and ¼ days. Leap day means having an extra 24 hours of... well, everything, including time to think about your finances. 

Whether it's making an additional contribution or just re-evaluating your investment strategy, use this extra day to its fullest potential. After all, it's not every year you get a whole extra day! Time is money, and this year you get 24 more hours. Spend them wisely. 

Young girl putting money into savings jars.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

PRO: Another day for your investments to grow

Use this extra time to review and adjust your investment strategies, ensuring you're on track to meet your savings and retirement goals. 

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  • Extra Contribution. Got some spare cash? Consider putting it into your IRA or a high-yield savings account.  
  • Long-term Planning. Use this extra day for some serious financial reflection. Are you on track to meet your retirement goals? If not, now’s a great time to adjust. 
  • Investment Choices. Explore different investment options for your portfolio. Stocks, bonds, ETFs and CDs are worth another look if you've had your choices on autopilot. 

Close-up of man preparing to refuel his car at gas station.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

CON: Extra expenses 

Another day brings expenses that I call the "wake-up" tax. 

  • There is an extra day of fuel being consumed to drive your car or to keep your home warm
  • You have one extra day of purchasing food at the grocery store or spending money at a restaurant 
  • There are 24 hours of utility costs added to your bill. This could be noticeable in a cold month like February

Open sign on a café hangs on the door at entrance.

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PRO: Extra business hours 

First and foremost for businesses, the best thing about Leap Day is that it’s a whole extra day to make sales. Leap Day also offers up marketing opportunities for small businesses. 

One way to capitalize on the extra day is to incorporate the number 29 into prices and discounts. This could be done by offering one-day discounts of 29%, or by taking $29 off the cost of certain products.

Two businesspeople looking at desktop computer monitor and discussing work at desk.

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CON: Are you working extra hours for free? 

There is ample debate around whether salaried employees are working “for free” on a leap day. You are not working for free, you are just working for less. 

If you do the math, 2024 is 0.27% longer than a regular year. The typical employee is compensated for an average of 261 days in a regular year. In a leap year the average increases to 262 days. For a salaried employee making $50,000 per year, that income translates to $191.57 per day in wages, or $190.84 in a leap year — $0.73 less per day.

If you are an hourly worker, congratulations! You just got a little extra cash in your paycheck this year.  

A group of young sporty people practicing yoga.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

PRO: Extra day of free services paid with monthly rates

Paying for a full month for subscriptions in February almost seems unfair. Most years you only get 28 days of use out of your subscriptions or memberships. On the 29th, we get a “free” day of usage.  

If you regularly pay a set monthly rate for something — such as rent, the fee for a parking space, a bus/train transit pass, a fitness club membership, a subscription to a news site or online streaming video or music service, car and home insurance, or other types of annual memberships or charges — then you're getting an extra day for the same amount of money.

Calculator with money - Interest

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CON: A 366th day for interest on loans

Leap day interest is a win for financial institutions as most use simple interest methodology on a daily basis to calculate loans. That means an extra day on the calendar is an extra day for interest to accrue. 

Simple interest loans are so common you may not have realized that your monthly loan payments use this method to calculate interest charges. These types of loans include: student loans, mortgages, car loans and personal loans.

Birthday party

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Happy birthday leaplings!

Leap day babies can finally celebrate their birthday, February 29th, on the actual date — which they haven't been able to do since 2016. There are extra special free deals for leap babies to help you celebrate. 

Bring your ID and these free treats are yours:

  • Krispy Kreme. Krispy Kreme is offering a free original glazed dozen for visiting the shop with no purchase necessary
  • Milk Bar. You will get a free full-sized birthday cake to celebrate your once-in-every-four-years special day
  • Insomnia Cookies. You get four free cookies and a birthday party in-store for free
  • Build-a-Bear Workshop. Little leaplings can grab a Birthday Treat Bear for just $4 (valued at $14) at any Build-a-Bear Workshop location

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Donna LeValley
Personal Finance Writer

Donna joined Kiplinger as a personal finance writer in 2023. She spent more than a decade as the contributing editor of J.K.Lasser's Your Income Tax Guide and edited state specific legal treatises at ALM Media. She has shared her expertise as a guest on Bloomberg, CNN, Fox, NPR, CNBC and many other media outlets around the nation.