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For Accounting purposes: Does the first week of may 2013 start on May 5, May 1, April 28, April 29, or some other day?

Posted on 2013-05-29
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Last Modified: 2013-07-04
Hi,

I wasn't sure where to place this question, but it is driving me crazy.  What defines the first, second, third, fourth, possibly fifth weeks of a give month? Is there any standard, or is it all subjective?

The title says it all. For accounting purposes in the Usa, when does the ""first week""" of a month considered to start? Is it 7 days minus the first sunday or monday in that month? So, in may 2013, the first sunday is cinco de mayo (the 5th) and if you subtract 7 days from that you get april 28. So is the first week of may april 28 to May 5? April 29 to may 5?

What is the date range for the """"last week"""" or 4'th week  (or is the the fifth week of may 2013?
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Question by:OutOnALimbAlways
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Expert Comment

by:carlmd
ID: 39205214
Typically each company would have a fiscal calendar that defines the start and end of each fiscal period. There could be more or less than 12 periods in a year, and they could start and end just about any time.

With that said, if there is nothing to the contrary, a normal fiscal year would have 12 periods,  with a typical fiscal calendar that starts on the 1st day of the month and ends on the last day.
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PortletPaul earned 333 total points
ID: 39207649
I come from the land downunder, so not an expert on USA behavior. But organizations are generally given the freedom to determine their own fiscal calendar and I believe that is true in the US. The US orgs I do know follow the Oct-Sep year convention established by your fed government but even that isn't set in stone for all to follow.

reconciling weeks to months infuriates many, some organizations use a 4-4-5 pattern (4 weeks, 4 weeks, 5 weeks) when defining "months" - but that can also be just as infuriating because the fiscal month does not align to the calendar month that way. Some other organizations have 13 fiscal 'months' (12x4 weeks, 1x the balance). But for the most part folks use calendar months and accept that some weekly cycles either don't get fully accounted for in a month, or, they align "partial weeks" that span a calendar month change.

The world is your oyster, take it raw, or cook to your own recipe.

general discssion:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiscal_year

GAAP comes from here:
http://www.fasb.org/home
(good luck finding 'it' here, but if the standard exists it should be here)
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Author Comment

by:OutOnALimbAlways
ID: 39208243
I have a knack for making stuff complicated. I should have phrased the question like this: "As commonly understood, does the first week of a month start on the sunday of that month, the second week on the second sunday, third week on third sunday, etc?"

So in the case of may 2013, we would have: week 1 = 5-12, week2 = 12-19, week 3 = 19-26, week 4 = 26- june 1. This would also mean that sunday april 28 to  sat. May 4'th would be considered the fourth week of april.

 I like this method because you can compare identical length time periods. We can compare whatever data for the 4'th week of may (may 26- june 1) with the 4'th week of april (apr 28 - may 4).

But what I gather from the answers so far is that it is subjective.  That sounds right. I just found another discussion of this at http://stackoverflow.com/questions/604031/what-is-the-first-last-week-of-a-month and they also said that it was subjective; that there is no common understanding or definitive answer.

Ironically, I did find the phrase "during the first week of march" in the fasb.org website but no standard indicating the exact date range of the first week in march!
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Assisted Solution

by:carlmd
carlmd earned 167 total points
ID: 39208271
If you are using calendar periods, then typically the first day of the period is the first day of the month, regardless of what day of the week it falls on.
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Author Comment

by:OutOnALimbAlways
ID: 39208474
carlmd: I appreciate the information.  I guess the only way to do this right when someone says the 'X week of the month' is to spell out the date periods. What prompted this whole question is that I do have a report to do which asks for the data for the X week of the month.

You say typically, but that doesn't mean always....
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Expert Comment

by:carlmd
ID: 39208822
IMHO the first week of the month is the first seven days, unless you are not on a calendar fiscal year and have defined the periods otherwise. In that case it would be the first seven days as defined in  a given period.
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Assisted Solution

by:PortletPaul
PortletPaul earned 333 total points
ID: 39209550
You don't specify what dbms is being used - if sql server - this may give you some ideas (and the code here)

During my career this 'week thing' has been a frequent issue (across 100's of orgs) particularly for business processes such as "weekly" timesheets. As mentioned before there are basically 2 schools of thought, adopt a 4,4,5 pattern -or- force a division of periods used so that the month and 'week' cycles align at the close of each fiscal month.

btw:
around 1792 the French had an idea to solve all this:
12 Months of 30 days, each of 3 ten day weeks
the extra 5 or 6 days per year were holidays (this bit I particularly enjoy)
a day consisted of 10 hours, each hour had 100 minutes, and each minute 100 seconds
- just thought I'd mention it
& oh, it didn't catch on too well :) link here
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Author Comment

by:OutOnALimbAlways
ID: 39211565
Well,  so far what I'm going to take away from all this is that next time someone says X week of the month I'm going to demand a date range!  In fact, I just submitted a crystal report to a client with a chart that spelled out the date range though the requirements were for week 1, week 2...  In reference to that, you may see a question on the crystal reports forum asking how to order the x axis labels of a chart.

I would still be interested in a few further comments though, before I can put this question to bed and worry about some other earth-shaking issue!
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Expert Comment

by:PortletPaul
ID: 39258948
Hi, does not look as if you have attracted further comments

-- can this question be put to bed now?
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Expert Comment

by:tliotta
ID: 39264348
A problem is that the question asks about "first week of a month" and "for accounting purposes". I'm not aware of any 'accounting' definitions of weeks per month. Rather the meaningful definitions are only for weeks per year.

In some 40+ years working in businesses (large and small, public and private), this is the first time I've ever seen anyone care about a monthly basis, except on an informal basis, e.g., "Somewhere in the first week of April...". I suspect most people would simply assume that means "...in the first few working days..." with no absolute certainty. I'm not at all sure there is any good answer outside of a specific organization's standards, if any exist at all.

Tom
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Author Closing Comment

by:OutOnALimbAlways
ID: 39301095
Sorry it took me so long to close this question.
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