Happy with your budget categories? Please share!

I'm curious to know how people organize their budget categories. Thinking of making some changes for 2018 and would love to see what people use (and don't use).

What are your budget categories?

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  • Ok, I'm gonna do mine.  I have a lot of categories, and many are old YNAB3/4 throwbacks that I keep for posterity as they're still so familiar to me.  I somehow find a need to tweak something a few times a year even though in my mind, my categories are very simple compared to others'.  Yesterday I split up the "Doctor/Dentist" category to two separate line items, plus added a Vision category as I now have an HSA and LPFSA and want to know for next year how much more I'm spending out of pocket on the LPFSA expenses.

    I never did the "True Expense" type breakdown, but I later added an I or T tag to some categories to help prioritize, but I really rarely look at it.  I don't break anything out by time.  If I made a category for every single recurring transaction my budget would be a mess.  I schedule them all on mostly one credit card, and just "budget for upcoming."  If it's something annual and big, like HOA dues, I use a goal by date.  

    I have 11 CC Payment categories showing, and 7 hidden, so I'll just skip those.  Wish I could hide them from the account view!!

    I use the yellow and blue (toolkit) warnings to initially fill out the budget.  My eyes are well-trained on how to jump around priorizing after 10+ years of this.  I use a lot of goals, upcoming, and category notes to help guide me.  

    Business - not major businesses, just for tracking

    • Business Expense (husband's reimbursables)
    • eBay Biz
    • Italian Ice
    • Thirty-One

    Clothing

    • Adults
    • Kids
    • Shoes & Accessories

    Charity

    • Tithing (I'm not Mormon, but it sounds cooler than Church)
    • Other

    Education

    • Tuition
    • School
    • Tutoring

    Food

    • Coffee
    • Groceries
    • Restaurants
    • Diet
    • Supplements
    • Gum (throwback from nicotine-gum days, now keep for Orbit :))

    Housing

    • Rent/Mortgage (never paid rent while using YNAB, but it's an old YNAB category I keep)
    • Property Taxes (self-escrow, always!)
    • Services (house cleaners, lawn guy, snow removal, etc.)
    • Household Needs (mostly consumables, and small items)
    • Association Dues
    • Furniture & Appliances (big stuff)
    • Improvements & Repairs
    • Pest Control (used to have a subscription, now just keep an amount for emergencies)

    Kids  (Allowances)

    • Kid 1
    • Kid 2
    • Kid 3

    Medical

    • Doctor
    • Prescriptions
    • Dental
    • Vision
    • Other
    • HSA Funds (ONLY category that matches to an account. I budget for upcoming medical expenses normally, then cover with this category when I make a charge or withdrawal. Auto deposits with each paycheck), and I reconcile monthly, interest goes straight to category.) 

    Personal

    • Personal Care (toiletries, beauty, haircuts, etc.)
    • Gifts
    • Holidays & Celebrations
    • Subscriptions & Dues (YNAB, Prime, Costco, newspaper, magazines, etc. All scheduled in future on a card)
    • Mom Stuff (she just passed away so this will be retired soon, after I finish closing out her trust)
    • Legal (thanks, mom :))
    • Loans (I use to track money I am owed by others, rare occurrence)
    • Child Care (babysitting, seldom now, yay!)

    Pet Care

    • Food
    • Supplies (treats, other items, grooming)
    • Vet

    Recreation (These are the ones that get raided constantly)

    • Computer & Technology
    • Entertainment (family fun stuff, movies, etc.)
    • Hers
    • His
    • Kids
    • Vacation

    Savings (general financial categories, not always in service)

    • RSU (release fixed amount monthly for income smoothing)
    • ESPP (same as above)
    • Future Income (currently used for next month buffer, even though oddly named :))
    • Taxes & Fees
    • Retirement (was for Roth transfers, but not used right now, maybe in future)
    • Investments (used once to exercise stock options, maybe in future when I get there)
    • Buffer (catch-all for money I haven't quite figured out yet but will soon)
    • Emergency Fund (truly Income Replacement, but not renaming yet)

    Spending Money (any small ATM withdrawal that probably won't be tracked)

    • Annie
    • [Husband]

    Transportation

    • Gas & Oil
    • Insurance
    • Repairs & Tires (really a catch-all for most car expenses, including licenses & registration)
    • Parking & Rides

    Utilities

    • Cable TV (monthly bundled Comcast bill, separate pay tv subscriptions, tivo charges - these are all scheduled on a single credit card. Much easier when a CC inevitably gets compromised and closed)
    • Cellular Phone
    • Life Insurance
    • Gas & Electricity
    • Water
    • Trash Collection

    Rental Property (this is new)

    • Property Tax
    • Water
    • Landlord Insurance
    Like 2
    • eloquentz
    • Numbers Wizard (Accountant), Acoustic Artist (Musician) and Jill of all Trades (Wife & Mother)
    • eloquentz
    • 5 mths ago
    • Reported - view

    Monthly Expenses: Mortgage, Home/car insurance, Charitable donations, YMCA, Life insurance, Cell phones, Hydro (electric for other people), Groceries, Gas, Interest/Fees, Internet & Phone, Melaleuca Order.

     

    Debt Payments: Details not relevant to anyone but me

     

    Less Frequent expenses: Personal care, Car maintenance, Home maintenance, CPA Membership, website registration, YNAB subscription, Clothing & School Supplies, Gifts, Christmas Gifts, Birthday Gifts, Vacation

     

    Fun Stuff: Netflix, Family fun & dining out, Rebecca misc money, André misc money

     

    Wish list: Currently only active thing is remote starters for our vehicles, but it won't be funded for ages I don't think.

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  • Always interesting to see these. Mine have changed over time, from dealing-with-debt to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, to FIRE (although i'm more FI than RE), so I'd really agree with the comment about what you want your budget to tell you. That changes, and so do the categories.

    For me, i'm looking at the FI part of FIRE at the moment, so want to know how much I need to have coming in to meet the essentials. So my categories are setup from must do and should do through to can live without or nice to have. Strictly i've hit FI if I can fill the essentials, but in reality I need to hit most of the nice to have's as well for it to be sustainable long-term. So master categories are

    • MUST - Bills (Monthly). Mortgage, utility bills, council tax ... any bill I must pay each month
    • MUST - Bills (Annual). Similar, but budgeting for bills that are annual (car insurance, road tax, etc.)
    • MUST - Food and Supplies. We need to eat, and fill up various things round the house :)
    • SHOULD - Credit Card Payments. Obviously cards are best paid in full each month, but could slip to next month in an emergency so not quite a MUST
    • SHOULD - Savings (Emergency Funds). These should always be topped up in full, whenever possible.
    • SHOULD - Healthcare. Again, a little flex here if I have to, e.g. postpone a routine dentist check-up a month or two. But should be fully budgeted whenever possible.
    • MEDIUM - Savings (Monthly). Long term savings, which are important for FI(RE) but could be reduced or paused if needed
    • MEDIUM - Transportation. Includes petrol and maintenance, but could cycle to work if I had to!
    • LOW - Birthdays and Christmas. Nice to do, but can always write a card if I was broke.
    • LOW - Clothing. Have enough in the wardrobe to get me by for a long while
    • LOW - Giving. Always want to each month. Don't have to.
    • LOW - Household. Maintenance work, gardening, furnishing. Nothing major needs doing at the moment, so could be deferred if needed. Emergency fund will cover emergencies.
    • LOW - Miscellaneous. The bucket'o'stuff that doesn't fit elsewhere.
    • NICE TO HAVE - Recreation and Holidays. Again, would like to, don't need to. A 'staycation' isn't terrible where I live

    So I budget from top to bottom, based on what's available. My salary is predictable, so everything is usually covered in full each month, but any major outlay (e.g. household repairs) means the LOW categories may be paused for a bit.

    Like 3
  • Mine is pretty simple and each item under the category heading is arranged by it's due date with the fixed amount that's due. Makes it easy to know exactly when each is due and for how much. I do have a bunch of hidden categories that I've either combined or eliminated as I tweak the budget.

    FIXED MONTHLY EXPENSES

    • Rent
    • T Mobile
    • USAA Insurance
    • iTunes
    • Direct TV Now
    • HP Instant Ink
    • NY Times
    • Hulu
    • Fax.com
    • iTunes-Robo Killer

    VARIABLE MONTHLY EXPENSES

    • Electricity
    • Cleaning Service
    • Cash/Spending Money
    • Uber/Lyft
    • Household Misc Items
    • Ventra Card Reload
    • Gifts
    • Giving
    • Stuff I Forgot to Budget For
    • Extra Money for Hannah

    GROCERIES

    • Week 1-7
    • Week 8-15
    • Week 16-23
    • Week 24-31
    • Groceries When Having Guests

    MEDICAL

    • Express Scripts
    • Medicare Plan G
    • Prescription Drugs
    • Unanticipated Health Expenses
    • Doctor/Dentist Visits

    AUTO EXPENSES

    • Gas
    • Lease Payment
    • Illinois Tollway
    • Chicago Parking App
    • Auto Maintenance & Repairs

    PET EXPENSES

    • Food
    • Vet
    • Equipment/Supplies
    • Cat Sitter

    PERSONAL STUFF

    • Toiletries
    • Contact Lens Supplies
    • Clothing
    • Manicures/Pedicures
    • Cosmetics
    • Dry Cleaning
    • Hair
    • Splurging

    FUN STUFF

    • Books
    • Movies
    • Knitting
    • Restaurants

    ONE TIME EVENTS

    • Michelle's Wedding
    • Attorney Fee for Divorce

    SAVINGS

    • Life Happens
    • Retirement/General Savings

    YEARLY ITEMS

    • Jack's Birthday
    • Hannah's Birthday
    • Danny's Birthday
    • VPN
    • Costco
    • YNAB
    • Skidmore Donation
    • Amex Yearly Membership
    • 1Password
    • Amazon Prime
    • Dropbox
    • Lyrics
    • City of Chicago Auto Sticker
    • Car Registration Renewal
    • Magazine Subscriptions
    • Christmas
    • Professional Fees
    • Taxes
    • New Scleral Lenses

    VACATIONS

    • Thanksgiving
    • Christmas
    • Plucky Pop Up
    • Montreal
    • Iceland

    WISH LIST

    • Desk & Chair
    • Living Room Shelf
    • New LR Sectional
    • Entry Hallway Mirror
    • Outdoor Furniture for Balcony
    • Car Lease Buyout
    • New Cell Phone
    • New Laptop
    • New Eyeglasses
    Like
  • This is mine! Really new to YNAB so any feedback appreciated... context: single, no kids, one dog, in a room in a shared so all Bill's included in rent. Three credit cards, but 2 will be gone by New Year. I do "weekly spends" instead of "groceries, clothes, take out, coffee" but I am thinking of mixing that up once I've adjusted to YNAB. Weekly Spends was my beginner budget when I was first trying to teach myself to ration money.

    Like 1
      • Mx Emmin
      • Orchid_Banjo.5
      • 3 mths ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Mx Emmin  I've since added red, orange, yellow and green emojis to the categories to see if I can pilfer from then if I overspend...

      Like 2
      • Mx Emmin
      • Orchid_Banjo.5
      • 12 days ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      2020 update! Still got those red, orange, yellow and green hearts for whether or not I can WAM from each category 

      Some updates have happened  :)

      Like 1
  • Immediate Obligations:
    HOA dues 01
    Recurring Child Care 01
    Electric 14
    Storage Unit 18
    this continues, listing recurring bills by due date, and at the bottom is:
    Groceries
    Transportation
    Stuff I Forgot To Budget For

    Credit Card Payments:
    Old Medical Bill Payment Plan 25
    Credit Card #1 26
    CREDIT CARD #2 26
    other debts listed by due date. the one in all caps is the target card to pay off first.

    Future Obligations:
    Diwali October
    Dashlane January
    Car Insurance January
    Property Taxes March
    YNAB September
    and so on, again in order of when they are going to be due.

    Quality of Life:
    Clothing
    General Fund
    Wish List
    Vacation
    Christmas

    Fun Stuff:
    Eating Out
    Going Out
    Buying Stuff
    Alcohol

    Wish List:
    Back Patio
    Window Treatments
    Couches (living room)
    Skylight repair
    Dishwasher
    New Bike for the Child
    various other things...you get the picture.

    General Fund Items:
    Home Maintenance and Furnishings
    Interest and Fees
    Medical
    Auto Maintenance
    Occasional Child Care

     

    When I'm going to spend on something on the Wish List or in the General Fund, I fund it by deducting from the Wish List or General Fund category.

    Within each category, subcategories are in order either by date or by priority.

    When I have money in TBB, I assign in it from the top down.

    When I need to WAM, I divert funds from the bottom up.

    I'm new-ish (less than 3 months) but this is working really, really well for me.

    Like 2
    •  Should add - the first 3 items on the Wish List are numbered 1-3, in order of priority, and that is my Wish Farm.

      Like
  • Mine are split into Monthly fixed and variable which I fund with my checking account (I buy everything on my rewards card and pay it off each month) and Sinking fixed and variable that I fund with my savings account.

    Like 1
  • Hi! Here are mine:

    Basic 🏡

    • Rent 1st
    • Groceries
    • Medical
    • Phone 10th
    • Gas/Electric 13th
    • Internet 21st
    • Renters' Insurance
    • Taxes

    Saving 🔑

    • Emergency Fund

    Flex - Me 🧘‍♀️

    • Food
    • Travel
    • Apartment
    • Fitness 6th
    • Clothes
    • Haircuts
    • News
    • Entertainment
    • Other

    Flex - Others 💫

    • Charity
    • Visiting Family
    • Family Birthdays
    • Hosting Visitors
    • Weddings
    • Other Gifts

    Flex - Non-Monthly 🗓️

    • Annual subscription categories

    Holidays 🕯️

    • Travel, food and gift categories

    Partner 🙋‍♂️

    • Their share of the Basics, News and Entertainment categories, which they transfer to me monthly for me to pay

    Extra Income (e.g., bonus, tax refund) 🌵

    • 10% Charity
    • 10% Fun

    I try to roughly follow the 50% basics, 20% savings, 30% flex breakdown from Elizabeth Warren's "All Your Worth." I count my retirement savings toward the 20% (including my employer match, in both my income and savings, per AYW), but don't have my retirement account in YNAB, so calculating the breakdown requires doing a little bit of math in a spreadsheet outside of YNAB.

    I'm able to be a month ahead now, so one month's "total inflows" should equal the following month's budgeted amount.

    I keep my emergency fund in a high-yield savings account, and everything else in checking. I'm shooting for 6 months of after-tax pay—eek—have been working on it for a long time, and am on track to be done in 2020.  🎉

    I set up goals and/or scheduled transactions for as many categories as possible (including scheduling estimated transactions, with an "estimate" note in the memo line, when that's the best I can do), so that the "underfunded" amount (under Quick Budget) gives me a good sense at a glance of how realistic my budget is.

    I started using YNAB around June 2018 and it took me a long time to get the hang of it, and longer still to find a setup that I'm pretty happy with. Happy to try to answer questions! 

    Like 1
  • Couple days ago, I went and redid my entire budget. Quite happy with how I have it now. Currently living with my parents for another year so don't have many expenses but I do pay rent to help them out.

     

    Bills:

    • Transit Passes 1st
    • Bank 9th
    • Rent 25th
    • Phone 26th

    Subscriptions:

    • Patreon 1st
    • Spotify 15th
    • Backblaze 19th
    • Adobe 28th
    • Netflix 30th
    • Flickr 1st (January)
    • Amazon 1st (January)
    • YNAB 15th (January)

    Variable Expenses:

    • Personal Spendings
    • Entertainment
    • Restaurants
    • Transit & Rideshare

    Periodic Expenses:

    • Dental
    • Birthdays
    • Christmas

    Saving Goals:

    • TFSA / Emergency Funds
    • RRSP

     

    Overall I feel it to be quite simple and organized. Originally I grouped both bills and subscriptions under the same category group but decided to separate them to get a better look at how much I'm actually spending on just the subscriptions that are less important.

     

    My variable expenses are expenses that will be different every month. I start each month with a starting amount in each category that I plan to aim for but will end up moving money around to cover overspending when it occurs.

     

    My periodic expenses are the same as YNAB's "True Expenses". I put a bit of money each month into these categories so I'll be prepared when the time comes.

     

    Saving Goals are where I keep my TFSA and RRSP contributions and any large purchase or vacation I plan to save up for.

    Like 1
    • casner
    • Now retired, and figuring out transitions
    • casner
    • 9 days ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    When I started out, I used the suggested categories to keep track of when things were due, so I didn't miss any bills. I've done major category Group reorganizations since then about once per year, but I've settled out pretty much with Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs as my Group organization. Your mileage may vary.

    Like 2
  • Here are ours. We have 134 categories, varying depending on time of year. 

    FOOD

    Groceries

    Restaurant

    Restaurant 2nd half (we split the month in half with the Restaurant category)

    On-the-Go Snacks

    Work Lunches

    Coffee Out

     

    CHILD

    Toys/Games

    Arts & Crafts

    Activities

    Piggy Bank

    Allowance

    Gifts

    Savings

     

    CHILD EDUCATION

    Curriculum

    Supp’tl Books & Materials

    School Supplies

    Education Projects

    Lessons/Classes

    Special Events

    Field Trips

    Educational Sub’s

    Homeschool Orgs

     

    HOUSEHOLD EXPENSES

    Health & Beauty

    Consumable Goods

    Durable Goods

    Electronics

    Batteries

    Emergency Supplies

    Dry Cleaners

    Haircuts

    Office Supplies

    Professional Services

    Tickets & Fines

     

    CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES

    Child Clothing

    Mrs. Clothing

    Mr. Clothing

     

    RECREATION

    Recreation Misc

    Family Fun

    Date Nights

    Movies & Shows

    Games, Media, & Apps

    Arts & Crafts

    Books

    Mrs. Fun Money

    Mr. Fun Money

     

    ENTERTAINMENT SUB’S & PASSES

    Media Sub’s

    Annual Passes

     

    PETS

    Pet Food

    Pet Products

    Boarding

    Vet/Meds

     

    HOME & PROPERTY

    Mortgage Principal

    Mortgage Interest

    Mortgage Escrow

    Home Repairs

    Home Improve

    Furniture

    Large Appliance

    Small Appliance

    Security

    Law & Garden

    Tools & Fixit Supplies

     

    TRANSPORTATION

    Fuel

    Car Payment

    Car Maintenance

    Car Repairs

    Tire Replacement

    Car Insurance

    Property Tax

    Tolls & Parking

    Reg/Tag/License

    Car Replacement

     

    HEALTH & MEDICAL

    Insurance

    Pharmacy OTC

    Vitamins/Supplements

    Prescriptions

    Doctor Visits

    Alt. Tx

    Dental

    Vision

    Life Insurance

    Hospital/Lab

     

    UTILITIES & BILLS

    Electricity

    Sewer/Trash

    Cable

    Cell

    Water

    Internet

     

    CELEBRATION & GIVING

    Christmas

    Anniversary

    Mrs. Birthday

    Mr. Birthday

    Child Birthday

    Child Friends’ Birthday

    Family Birthdays

    Holiday/Special Occasions

    Wedding/Hospital/Funeral

    Giving Other

    Tithe

     

    VACATION & TRAVEL

    Travel

    Vacation

    PTO

     

    EDUCATION & STUDENT LOAN

    Student Loan

    Student Loan Interest

    Student Loan Snowball

    Educ. Expenses

    INVESTMENTS

    [Misc. Investment Accounts]

     

    TAXES

    Qtr 1 Taxes

    Qtr 2 Taxes

    Qtr 3 Taxes

    Qtr 4 Taxes

    Taxes Buffer

    For Reimbursement

    Tax Return

     

    RESERVES

    Dental Savings

    Vision Savings

    Child Education Savings

    Fun Money Savings

    Auto Deductible

    House Deductible

    Medical Deductible

    Salary Buffer

    Salary Replacement

    Other Emergency Fund

     

    FINANCIAL

    Contingencies

    Deferred Income

    Refunds

    Disputed

    Account Corrections

    Reimbursements

     

    PRAYER FARM

    Landscaping

    Bathroom Remodel

    Europe Trip

    Child College

    Like 1
  • Here's my current setup.

    Debt Payments
    - Auto Loan - 2018 Crosstrek Anniversary Edition

    The Buffers
    - Income for Next Month
    - The Buffer

    Stayin Alive
    - Meds
    - Covered Medical
    - Uncovered Medical
    - Covered Medical Next Year

    Monthly Expenses
    - Cell Phone
    - Funding Subscriptions
    - Gas
    - Giving - Monthly
    - Groceries
    - Streaming/Entertainment - Monthly
    - Subscription Boxes
    - Voip Services - Monthly
    - VPS Hosting

    Yearly Expenses
    - January - Auto Registration
    - January - Mail Services
    - January, August, October, November, December - Streaming Services
    - January - Vestalink (2 Yr)
    - April - Taxes
    - July - Auto Insurance
    - June, September, November - Software Subscriptions

    Immediate Obligations
    - Backup Services
    - VOIP Services

    True Expenses
    - Auto Maintenance - March, September
    - Auto Insurance Deductible
    - Gifts
    - Giving
    - Clothing
    - Legal
    - Personal Care
    - Car Replacement Fund
    - Purchases for Others
    - Purchases for Clients

    Investing/Retirement
    - Automated Investing/Retirement Funding
    - Manual Investing/Retirement Funding
    - Investing for Interest/Dividends

    Quality of Life Goals
    - Armory Supplies and Upgrades
    - Education
    - Family Trips
    - Home Improvement
    - House/Land/Range/Studio
    - Vacation

    Just for Fun
    - Entertainment
    - Gaming

    Wish Farm: S(<$101), M(<$501), L(>$500)
    - 0-Wish Buffer
    - <a few S/M/L goals>

    Wish List: S(<$101), M(<$501), L(>$500)
    - <Bunch of goals>

    Account Minimums to Keep
    - CapOne Savings
    - TFCU Checking
    - TFCU Savings
    - ST Checking

    Completed/No Longer Used
    - <Bunch of categories like the completed student loan and completed wish farm items>
     

    Like 1
  • casner said:
    I've settled out pretty much with Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs as my Group organization

    see. We can use stuff we learned in school in real life. 

    Like 3
  • How do you show your categories? IE take pics?

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    • Stacy C You can take a screenshot from your computer or phone, and share them here. That link has instructions for different systems and devices. Use the "Add image" button, or drag & drop the file to attach it your forum post!

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      • Stacy C
      • nursepower
      • 3 days ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Nicole Thanks! Ta-Da

      Like 4
    • Stacy C Love the creative names!

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