90+ Budget Categories That You’re Forgetting About
“What should I put in my budget?” It’s a question that I get a lot, and it’s no easy answer. Sure, you could just cram it all into 3 broad budget categories, but it’s so much more than that.
A budget is more than just housing, food, and transportation. There are so many other budget categories to take into consideration that you might be missing some really big ones without even knowing.
Before we get into all of these 90+ budget categories, I want to make sure that you know that this is not meant to overwhelm you! I made this list so that you can see all of the different parts of your life that need to be accounted for when you’re trying to get in control of your finances.
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Budget Categories You Need
Here’s how I made this huge list of budget categories. I created 19 main budget categories. Then, under each one, I listed out some suggested subcategories. When you add up all the subcategories together, there are more than 90 ways to categorize your expenses!
Not all of these are for everyone. Skim through this list and pick out the ones that you actually use. I hope this helps you organize your budget and wrangle your spending.
In some way or another, we all have housing expenses. Whether you rent or own, there is an expense that comes along with it. These are the four most common types of expenses that fall in this category.
- HOA fees
- Property tax
Any and all food expenses go here. Even take-out and baby formula go here. Making a nice big category helps to keep take-out spending in check, too.
- Meal plan expenses (Mine’s only $1.25 a week and you can use the code CAROLINE25 to get 25% off yours’ too!)
- Baby food and formula
Everything that you need to have in your home to keep your life running smoothly goes in here. No, you don’t necessarily need cable or internet, but this is the place out of all of the budget categories where it goes.
- Cell phone
Find out how to save money by weatherizing your home!
I love my pets, but they can get expensive. That’s why they need their own category.
- Accessories (clothes, leashes, etc.)
- Vet visits
- Animal boarding
Any kind of clothing that needs to get purchased comes from this budget category. It’s so easy to forget to budget for clothes!
- Kids clothes
- Clothes for adults
- School uniforms
- Work uniforms
It helps if you shop second-hand, but you still need to account for the expense!
Everything that comes with a car expense goes in this category. Including routine maintenance, like oil changes that need to happen every 3 months. If you don’t own a car, then you might budget for bus fair or public transportation costs.
- Car payment
- Car insurance
- Gas for car
- Regular oil changes
- Parking permits
- Toll Road Expenses (Fast or EZ Pass Payments)
- Public Transportation
Doctor’s visits, glasses, medications, and co-pays are included here. This basically covers anything that you pay for health costs. This helps especially if you have a yearly specialist visit, like an optometrist and it comes with a hefty out-of-pocket cost.
- Preventative care (well visits)
- Dental care
- Medication – Prescription and/or Over The Counter
- Specialty co-pays (chiropractors, orthodontics, etc.)
I’m crazy about insurance. Always get insurance. Let me say that again… ALWAYS. I have insurance for everything. No matter what my budget is, I always have insurance.
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Life insurance
- Flood insurance (it’s not included in your home owner’s or renter’s policy, but always get flood insurance!)
- Mortgage insurance
- Home owner’s insurance
- Renter’s insurance
- Car insurance
- Personal property insurance (for the valuables in your house in case you lose them or they get stolen)
- Disability insurance (both short-term and long-term)
Any loans that aren’t your mortgage or a car payment go here. The goal is to get these paid off sooner rather than later, so this budget category is a great way to make sure that you’re paying more than the minimum payment to get out of debt sooner.
- Credit cards
- Personal loans
- Student loans
You might be thinking “retirement is so far away, why should I put so much money into a retirement account?”
It’s because the sooner and more aggressively you start funding your retirement, the more you’ll have saved up sooner. I just got into investing and I already love it.
It’s much more lucrative for your savings than just waiting for interest from your bank to accrue. I use Betterment and they make it so easy to use (plus they’re super inexpensive to use until I can really understand what I’m doing better).
- Contribution to 401K
Budgeting for savings is my favorite. There are 6 different bank accounts that I have for my family and many of them are savings accounts.
That’s because savings is so important to have for many reasons: unexpected illness, job loss, emergency, etc. So budgeting for money to go into savings is important to make it a priority.
If you struggle to make space for saving, check out Digit. They find extra money from your checking account and automatically put it into a savings account for you without you ever needing to do anything. I saved more than $200 without even trying in my first month.
- $1,000 emergency fund
- 3-6 month emergency fund
- College saving plan for children
Anything that you use at home goes into this category. These cleaning products don’t need to be expensive. In fact, you can make a lot of your own cleaning supplies for pennies on the dollar.
- Paper products (toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, etc.)
- Cleaning supplies
Personal care items
Here you’ll find any kind of items that are for personal hygiene and cosmetic appearance. Remember that you can find cheap or free alternatives to paying for an expensive haircut.
- Shampoo, conditioner
- Hair dyes
- Manicures and pedicures
- All other cosmetics
In this category, you’ll have the expenses that come along with any kind of schooling for both children and for adults.
- School tuition
- School supplies
- School Activities
- School Fundraisers
This is a category for those of you who work from home or work from home part-time. All work expenses can be written off on your taxes, so make sure to keep careful records of your work expenses.
- Office supplies
- Office rent
Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays all come up at the same time each year, so having this category is a great way to save up all year. You’ll also be ready when your little ones get invited to a party and you need to get a gift quickly.
- Birthday presents, cards
- Anniversary presents, cards
- All other special occasions
Things break. It just happens. But planning for things to break all year helps you to have money saved up for the big expense when it happens.
- Car maintenance
- Home maintenance
- Phone repair/replacement
I want to talk a little bit about tithing (not much, I promise). The Bible says to tithe 10%, but if you’re struggling financially, you can still give without giving money.
Donate your time, energy and talents to the church and to the community instead of just donating money. Chances are that your time, talents and energy will be much more helpful than just giving money.
These are all items that still need to be worked into a budget, but would be easy enough to cut out in an attempt to save money in a pinch.
- Gym membership
- Date nights
- Tobacco products
Again, don’t feel overwhelmed by this list of budget categories! Many of them might not even apply to you and your life situation right now. But when you’re making a budget, it’s so important to remember to plan for every eventuality and to have a plan for every penny.
Frequently Asked Questions About Budget Categories
Now that you have a huge list of budget categories, are you ready to set up your budget? If not, some of these questions might help you out. These are some of the most-asked questions about choosing budget categories. If you don’t see your question in this list, please leave it in the comments!
How many budget categories should I include?
The number of budget categories you use depends on how your brain works. If you need things to be specific, then set up as many categories and sub-categories as you can.
There are other people that prefer to be more generalized. Fewer larger categories make them feel less constrained. In that case, set up broad categories.
How many categories you set up in your budget isn’t as important as creating a system that you can stick to.
Can I change my budget categories?
Yes, you can change your budget categories as often as you need to. In fact, I encourage you to evaluate your budget every month and make sure it works for you. If something isn’t clicking, revamp it!
Is it better to budget on paper or the computer?
There are so many pros and cons to both! If you use an app or keep your budget online, you can reference it whenever you are out and about. It’s always available so you never have an excuse.
A paper budget is better if you are doing an envelope cash method or you really enjoy pen and paper in general. Seriously, you do you! When you find a method that clicks and keeps you on track, keep going with it!
Did I miss anything on this list? Let me know in the comments!