So you want to make a budget, but you have no idea what to include. Or maybe you’ve been at this budgeting thing for a few months, and every time, there’s an expense you didn’t think about.
We’re here to help.
We’ve scoured the internet and our bank transactions. We’ve learned from our own budgeting fumbles and assembled a complete list of the 101 most common personal budget categories.
Sure, you might be able to think of something we didn’t. But that $20 per month you spend on puppy tea parties probably won’t be a budget category for most people. These are just the ones we thought would be most relevant to most readers.
So get out your budgeting apps and open those Excel spreadsheets. It’s time to budget.
Homeowners and renters alike need to think about costs like insurance, minor repairs and dues.
- Property taxes.
- Homeowner association dues.
- Renters insurance.
- Homeowner insurance.
- General home maintenance (air filters, light bulbs, etc.).
- Unexpected household repairs (for things like appliances, air conditioning, heaters, etc.).
Some often-overlooked categories within transportation include travel and ride-share trips. Think of all the ways you get around, and be sure to include them all… even that horse-drawn carriage ride.
- Auto insurance.
- General car maintenance (oil changes, tires, etc.).
- Unexpected car repairs.
- License renewal.
- Tag renewal.
- Car accessories.
- Public transit.
If your eating isn’t just restricted to grocery purchases, then pay attention to all the places you’re getting food. Are you making quick stops to the gas station or buying hot dogs at the baseball game? Don’t make the mistake of leaving those out.
- Gas station/quick-service beverages.
- Pet food.
Think of utilities as the things you need to run the things you need. You should automate as many of these bills as you can to ensure they don’t shut off the moment you need them.
- Natural gas.
- Sewage and waste management.
- Fuel oil.
The old adage “pay yourself first” applies here. Think of all your financial goals and obligations, and include all of them in your budget.
- Emergency fund.
- Debt payments.
- 401(k) contributions.
- IRA contributions.
- Other savings goals.
- Life insurance.
- Alimony/child support.
Walk around your house and look at all the things you use on a daily basis. Have you included all of them in your budget?
- Phone bills.
- Home internet.
- Paper products.
- Laundry detergent.
- Other laundry supplies (stain remover, bleach, dryer sheets, etc.).
- Liquid dish soap.
- Dishwasher soap and accessories.
- Cleaning supplies (trash can liner, compost bags, etc.).
- Home repair tools.
- Small appliance repairs and replacements.
- Art and home decor.
- Senior/parent care.
- Pet care.
- Gardening and landscaping supplies.
What are all the products that make you look and feel your best? Make sure your budget accounts for these items and services.
- Skin care.
- Hair care.
- Shoes and accessories.
- Bath and spa goods.
Consider all the medical expenses — expected and unexpected — that could happen and what kind of insurance you have to cover it. Then, make sure you’re budgeting to cover routine health care and emergencies.
- Health insurance.
- Health savings account (HSA) and flexible spending account (FSA) contributions.
- Prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.
- Urgent care.
- First aid supplies.
- Survival/emergency kits.
- Primary care copays.
- Dental care.
- Eye care.
- Medical devices.
- Disability insurance.
- Long-term care insurance.
- Complementary medicine (chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, etc.).
It’s not bad to budget for entertainment. After all, you’ve gotta have fun! Determine what “fun” is to you, and add those expenses in.
- Cable TV.
- Streaming services (Netflix, Hulu, etc.).
- Date nights.
- Concert tickets.
- Vacation spending.
- Electronics and upgrades.
- Books, magazines and newspaper subscriptions.
Gifts and Giving
Giving isn’t just for the holidays. The opportunity to give comes up constantly, so be sure to budget for the organizations and occasions you’ve chosen to give to.
- Charitable donations.
Kids are expensive, no? Yes. So don’t leave out all the little things they need that can easily turn your budget into a dumpster fire.
- Children’s clothing and accessories.
- Day care.
- School supplies.
- Books and toys.
- Memberships/club dues.
- Subscriptions (magazines, educational, etc.).
- Private school tuition.
- Tutoring/private lessons.
- College savings/529 contributions.
- College room and boarding, fees and other expenses.
Your budget can be as simple or as detailed as you want it to be. The most important thing is to stick to it.
We hope these budget categories will help you make a budget with fewer surprises and more positive feelings.
Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She and her husband paid off $78,000 of debt in less than two years on two less-than-average salaries. She gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @modernfrugality.
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