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Do you keep missing payments because you forget what to budget for?
Feeling a little intimidated when trying to organize your budget?
I’m going to provide you with a massive list of personal budgeting categories to choose from so that you can feel confident in creating your budget.
Having a personalized budget can mean all the difference in the world. Each and every one of us has a different story to tell, a different life to live, so it makes total sense to create your own budget that will work for you.
Creating a personalized budget that actually works takes time. Setting yourself up for success from the beginning can really decrease the amount of stress you experience when your budget doesn’t go as planned.
It’s stressful when something like this happens. The only way to combat this is to be prepared.
Before we get into the meat of this article, I’d like to offer a resource for you to use as you create your budget. It’s my Yearly Bills Tracker. As you create your budget, start by making a list of all the bills you have, every single one of them. Then organize them by the date that they are due. I fill this out at the beginning of January, then use it throughout the year to make any necessary changes. This doesn’t mean that you cannot start today. Click below to get your tracker!
Personal Budgeting Categories and your Budget
The key to successful budgeting is knowing exactly how much money is coming in, knowing exactly how much money is going out, and knowing where your money is going.
When you set up your budget, you are telling your money where to go by assigning each dollar a job. This way, you know exactly how much is going out and where it is going. When you assign your dollar amount, you estimate the cost based on your past expenses. I highly encourage you to track your expenses for at least 3 months to figure this out.
The best part about using categories in your budget is that you get to choose exactly where to spend your money. You choose which categories apply to your family and determine the amount that works.
How to Use This List
- Pick and choose which categories fit the best for you and your family.
- Decide how much money to assign each category
How to Organize Your Budget Categories
This is going to look different for every one.
You want your budget categories to be simple enough to make budgeting easy but if you have a problem area in your budget, a category where too much money is disappearing into, you need to break it down further.
Use broad categories
The 50/20/30 method is an example of broad categories.
Many people claim that using broad categories make things simpler for them. If this works for you then go for it. 50% for necessities, 20% savings, and 30% for lifestyle. Sounds pretty simple, right?
The problem arises when you need to decide which category to assign your need vs want. Having a pet is a want, but if you have a pet, they need food, vet visits, and hygiene. Where does cable fall, or internet?
Use detailed categories
You can literally break down every single purchase. This will give you more granularity when you try to figure out a problem area.
For example, if you go to the store for groceries and end up buying shampoo, toilet paper, deodorant, air filters, a bottle of wine, light bulbs, and a pack of diapers in addition to your grocery items then you will need make multiple transactions.
This way, you will be able to accurately see how much you spent in Personal Care, Home Maintenance, Alcohol/Leisure, and Baby categories.
The problem arises when there are too many categories to keep up with. You may find yourself taking too much time to break down, examine, and close your budget.
Use a mixture of both
This is what I do since it makes the most sense to me.
It feels the most flexible as I can choose which categories I want bundle and which categories I want to break down further.
In the above example, I will have made one transaction and bundled it into one category, Groceries. The reason I would do this is that I do not spend enough in each individual category to be worthy of tracking separately.
It’s simpler for me not to have to track several different categories for one shopping trip. For this transaction, I might have a higher than normal grocery bill but I make note of that in my notes on my expense tracker.
Over 100 Personal Budgeting Categories For Your Budget
You won’t use every category on this list. Some just won’t apply to you. You need to decide which ones to break down and which ones to bundle. The goal is to make it easy for you to track and estimate your expenses.
Keep in mind that each month is different too. You may use one category one month but not the next. Or you may just use one or two categories just a few times per year. For these purchases, create a sinking fund for them to maximize your control.
Keep referring back to this list each month to make sure you are not forgetting something in your budget.
An emergency fund is one of the most important things you can have. If you don’t have an emergency fund, make this a category in your budget so that you can treat this like a bill. Get this funded before you start paying down debt.
Make sure you pay yourself first. Most of these items are already covered when my check hits my checking account. But some aren’t, I make sure to save as much as I can. I make sure to pay these accounts first before I pay anything else.
- Fully Funded Emergency Fund
- Roth IRA
- Large purchases (down payment, mattress, appliances, home makeover)
- 529 College Savings
There are instances where the mortgage insurance is included in the mortgage payment. In this case, it will hard to separate the insurance from home expenses. I bundle mortgage and HOA fees but keep household repairs separate. Property taxes and mortgage insurance are include in my mortgage payment.
- Property Taxes
- HOA fees
- Household Repairs
Utilities are the things that you need to make your home life run smoothly. If you rent, some of these things are already included in your rent so it won’t be something you need to worry about.
But if you own a home, you will be responsible for making sure these things are paid for. Some may argue that the internet and cable are not utilities but rather, luxuries or entertainment.
However, cable has become an integral part of everyday home life and some need the internet to work from home. Personally, I include these in utilities because this is a set amount that I pay monthly to keep my home in order.
- Cell Phone
You can make this category as detailed as you like or as broad as you like. I do a mix of both.
Since eating out is my nemesis, I need to break down the exact amount I spent on eating out to be able to make a change. Therefore, I keep my eating out and grocery expenses separate.
I also separate restaurants from eating out. In my eyes, eating out consists of fast-food or takeout while restaurants include dining in for luxury or special occasions.
I don’t separate alcohol because I don’t spend enough money to justify the split.
When I have both kids in school, I will be separating school lunches because my kids like to eat lunch at school rather than take lunch from home.
In the end, do what works for you and know that you aren’t tied down to one way. If it didn’t work out for you one month, try again next time.
- eating out (fast food)
- work lunch
- kids’ lunch
- pet food
Anything you need to get from one place to another falls into the transportation category. You may or may not use everything in this category. Again, pick and choose which ones apply to you.
For example, it wouldn’t make sense to have a bus fee category if you only ride the bus once per year. If an expense is consistent and makes a difference in your budget, then go ahead and separate it.
- Car Payment
- Car Warranty
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Car Repairs
- Registration/Licence Associated Fees
- Bus Fees
- Uber/Lyft Fees
- Ride Tolls
Clothing is something that is part of your four walls. You can choose to separate each of these categories for each adult or each kid or bundle them together; one for adults or one for kids. Or bundle it all under one clothing category for the whole family.
Personally, I don’t buy clothes very often so I don’t have a clothes budget. We get quite a bit from birthdays and Christmas so we don’t need to spend money on clothes very often. My younger two wear hand-me-downs from their older brother.
Occasionally, I will buy clothes for myself but I will give it a miscellaneous expense title since I don’t do it often. Maybe 2-3 times per year and definitely less than $40 each time.
If I start to notice that my children are outgrowing their clothing too quickly, then I will create a clothing category and start a sinking fund for them.
- Adult clothing
- Adult shoes
- Children’s clothing
- Children’s shoes
Outside of medical bills and regular doctor visits, you can spend a considerate amount of money on health-related expenses not covered by insurance.
For most people, an HSA would come out of your paycheck automatically. But for things like chiropractor care, many insurances won’t cover regular chiropractor care for personal wellness.
- Specialty coverage (orthodontist, dermatologist, chiropractor)
- Urgent Care/Emergency Care/Co-pays
Health, dental, and vision will come out of your paycheck automatically if done through your employer. If you are self-employed, you will be responsible for paying these expenses on your own.
I like to bundle my insurances into one category when I examine my expenses but in my budget, I break each bill down.
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Vision insurance
- Car insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Rental insurance
- Life insurance
- Disability insurance
- Pet insurance
You can definitely make your own personal budget category for household supplies. Personally, I include these things in my grocery category for now since I spend so little and tend to purchase these things at the grocery store.
If you buy these things in bulk to save money, it could behoove you to keep this separate from groceries.
- Laundry detergent
- Cleaning supplies
- Cleaning service
Any money that you borrow with the exception of your vehicle and mortgage is included in this category.
I needed a vehicle, even though it was a loan. I separated my vehicle loan from the “debt” category in my expense tracker so that I could easily see how much I spent on transportation expenses.
- Credit cards
- Personal loans
- Student Loans
- Payday loans
This is something that most people forget to budget for. I certainly did. Do you have subscriptions like ABCMouse? What about buying expensive beauty products? Do you get eyelash extensions or laser hair removal? Go to the gym regularly? Get a regular mani-pedi?
You need to plan for these things so that it doesn’t catch you by surprise. These are all things that are not necessary but also something that you may not be willing to let-go of. If that is the case, you need to plug it into your budget to give you permission to spend.
- Barbershop services
- Salon services
- Gym memberships
I like to see how much I spend on kid-related things. This last year was my first year in having a child in a structured school system. The costs caught me a little by surprise and while I was able to cover the expenses with my regular budget, I’m going to be more prepared this year.
Sports are also going to take up a significant part of my budget so I’m going to make a separate category for that as well.
- School supplies
- School pictures
- School field trips
- School sports fees
- Book fairs
- Summer Camp
- Sports Fees
- Sports Equipment
- Traveleing for Sports
If you have older children that you help with their education, you can make a specific category for them. Or if you are going back to school, this is for you as well.
Do you have an entertainment category? Do you allow yourself to have a little fun? You should. It doesn’t have to be every month but it’s important to treat yourself and take care of yourself in this journey.
- Sporting Events
- Date Nights
Do any of these things catch you by surprise? Each month, come back to this list to see if you are forgetting to budget for something.
- Baby showers/gender reveals
- Teacher gifts
Even though Christmas is the most obvious thing to save money for, you will be surprised that you can also spend money on other holidays as well.
For example, we spend money on Easter baskets and events. If you host Thanksgiving, you might be surprised at how much you spend. Do you go fishing or visit the lake or hike for Labor Day or Memorial Day?
I keep my Christmas, Halloween, and Easter categories separate but I lump together the rest of the holidays. I don’t celebrate all of these holidays every single year. To be honest, I work most of them. So I don’t need to create a budget for each of them.
Your life is different than mine, so pick and choose which categories make sense for you.
- Independence Day
- Memorial Day
- Labor Day
- Valentine’s Day