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


    • Adults
    • Kids
    • Shoes & Accessories


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


    • Tuition
    • School
    • Tutoring


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


    • 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


    • 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 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]


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


    • 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
    • 2 yrs 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.

  • 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 4
  • 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.


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


    • 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


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


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


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


    • Food
    • Vet
    • Equipment/Supplies
    • Cat Sitter


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


    • Books
    • Movies
    • Knitting
    • Restaurants


    • Michelle's Wedding
    • Attorney Fee for Divorce


    • Life Happens
    • Retirement/General Savings


    • 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


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


    • 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 1
  • 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
      • 2 yrs 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
      • 1 yr 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
    • Mx Emmin consider adding amazon prime as a savings goal - cheaper annually than monthly 😉

      • Mx Emmin
      • Orchid_Banjo.5
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Khaki Griffin  it was on my wish list but these days I've actually cancelled Amazon Prime Haha 

  • 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:
    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:
    General Fund
    Wish List

    Fun Stuff:
    Eating Out
    Going Out
    Buying Stuff

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

    General Fund Items:
    Home Maintenance and Furnishings
    Interest and Fees
    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.

  • 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.



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


    • 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
    • 1 yr 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. 




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

    On-the-Go Snacks

    Work Lunches

    Coffee Out




    Arts & Crafts


    Piggy Bank







    Supp’tl Books & Materials

    School Supplies

    Education Projects


    Special Events

    Field Trips

    Educational Sub’s

    Homeschool Orgs



    Health & Beauty

    Consumable Goods

    Durable Goods



    Emergency Supplies

    Dry Cleaners


    Office Supplies

    Professional Services

    Tickets & Fines



    Child Clothing

    Mrs. Clothing

    Mr. Clothing



    Recreation Misc

    Family Fun

    Date Nights

    Movies & Shows

    Games, Media, & Apps

    Arts & Crafts


    Mrs. Fun Money

    Mr. Fun Money



    Media Sub’s

    Annual Passes



    Pet Food

    Pet Products





    Mortgage Principal

    Mortgage Interest

    Mortgage Escrow

    Home Repairs

    Home Improve


    Large Appliance

    Small Appliance


    Law & Garden

    Tools & Fixit Supplies




    Car Payment

    Car Maintenance

    Car Repairs

    Tire Replacement

    Car Insurance

    Property Tax

    Tolls & Parking


    Car Replacement




    Pharmacy OTC



    Doctor Visits

    Alt. Tx



    Life Insurance














    Mrs. Birthday

    Mr. Birthday

    Child Birthday

    Child Friends’ Birthday

    Family Birthdays

    Holiday/Special Occasions


    Giving Other









    Student Loan

    Student Loan Interest

    Student Loan Snowball

    Educ. Expenses


    [Misc. Investment Accounts]



    Qtr 1 Taxes

    Qtr 2 Taxes

    Qtr 3 Taxes

    Qtr 4 Taxes

    Taxes Buffer

    For Reimbursement

    Tax Return



    Dental Savings

    Vision Savings

    Child Education Savings

    Fun Money Savings

    Auto Deductible

    House Deductible

    Medical Deductible

    Salary Buffer

    Salary Replacement

    Other Emergency Fund




    Deferred Income



    Account Corrections





    Bathroom Remodel

    Europe Trip

    Child College

    Like 2
  • 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

    - 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?

    • 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!

      • Stacy C
      • nursepower
      • 1 yr ago
      • 5
      • Reported - view

      Nicole Thanks! Ta-Da

      Like 5
    • Stacy C Love the creative names!

  • Been using YNAB for on emonth now and probably futzed around with my categories every other day for the first two weeks. This has been stable for me since...

    Fixed Monthly Bills (I enter the bills as recurring transactions so when I budget YNAB tells me what the upcoming transaction total is for each category) 

    • Parking at work (1st) 

    • Auto Insurance (3rd) 

    • Auto Loans (4th, 24th) 

    • Electric (8th) 

    • Internet / Cable / Telephone (9th, 22nd) 

    • Gym Membership (15th) 

    • HOA (27th) 

    Monthly Expenses (Required expenses. Many small transactions. Each of these has monthly spending goals) 

    • Groceries

    • Healthcare 

    • Fuel / Parking / Tolls 

    • Pet Care 

    • Uber / Lyft / Bus 

    • Slush Fund 

    • Interest & Fees 

    Saved up Expenses (Required expenses but not monthly. Each of these has monthly contribution goals or target balance by date goals.) 

    • Property Tax (Apr, Oct) 

    • Home Insurance (Aug 2020) 

    • Auto Maint. / Licensing 

    • Home Maintenance 

    • Emergency Fund / Loan Payoff 

    • Job Reimbursement 

    Discretionary (Optional spending. Many small transactions. Each of these has monthly spending goals) 

    • Dining Out 

    • Entertainment 

    • Personal Care

    • Merchandise

    • Alcohol (this used to be part of groceries, we recently decided to break this out separately) 

    • Cigs 

    • Dry Cleaning 

    • Person X (i.e. someone for whom we general pay for when we go out that I wish to track) 

    Saved up Purchases (Optional spending but not necessarily monthly. Each of these has monthly contribution goals) 

    • Clothing / Shoes 

    • Furniture / Appliances 

    • Vacation 

    • Education 

    • Subscriptions / Memberships (things that are billed annually – YNAB, Amazon Prime, Time Magazine 

    Gifts (Monthly contribution goals) 

    • Charitable Organization 

    • Ourselves 

    • Friends / Family

    • Temporary Loaned Out (this is when I loan money or buy something and person says they will pay me back.  I consider it a gift until they actually pay me back.) 

    Like 1
      • MsTJ
      • YNAB has given me back my future
      • Believer_in_YNAb
      • 1 yr ago
      • 4
      • Reported - view

      Daily Impressions Your categories look great. About the only thing I can guarantee is that it won't take long before you will want to change them again.  I've been at this budgeting with YNAB thing for several years now and my categories are always changing.  The changes have slowed down recently and they still happen.  My goals change, life changes, all sorts of reasons for them to change.  If they work for you today, great, celebrate.  🎉😎.  If not, go ahead and change them, this is your budget, make it work for you.

      Like 4
  • I see a lot of people talk about how their categories change often. How does that affect your ability to report on anything historically? Do you try to stick to any standards (e.g. Specific Category Groups) to help you see trends while still allowing you to change underlying categories?

      • crinkles
      • crinkles
      • 1 yr ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      BradleyW Mine does change often, but when I really want to drill down I export to CSV anyway and use the data in Excel or Sheets. I'd say it's better to be responsive to managing categories well to reflect what is happening in reality than stick rigidly to a certain category layout. Big one-off things I sometimes create a category and only use it for 1-2 months before hiding the category. 

      Like 1
    • BradleyW When I make a category change, I recategorize past transactions to fit the new scheme. So when I started using a "Gifts" category, instead of a separate category for each gift, I deleted all the old categories and reassigned all those transactions to "Gifts." It's even harder when I separate out old categories - like when I decided to separate "sundries" from "groceries." Then I have to go back and try to figure out which transaction went with which new category. It's a pain. I haven't substantially changed my categories for the last 3 months, although I have added some for bona fide new expenses.

      I do rename, rearrange, and combine categories constantly. For example, for the last few months I've had a category called "02 Stitch Fix" under my Future Obligations. I set aside a bit each month so that I'd have what I wanted to spend on my stitch fix this month. When this month started I renamed the category "18 Stitch Fix (Automatic)" and moved it to This Month's Obligations. The name means it was due on the 18th, and would be paid automatically. Now that the money's spent, I'll just recategorize the whole thing as Clothing.

      I think my system probably sounds nightmarish, but it works really well for me. It's how my brain works.

  • Category Group Category
    Income for Next Month Income for January
    Income for Next Month Income for February
    Income for Next Month Income for March
    Income for Next Month Income for April
    Giving Giving
    Giving Giving (tax deductible)
    Savings Cash 12%
    Savings Vacation Money 8%
    Savings Car Replacement
    Home Mortgage
    Home Excess
    Home Moving Costs
    Home Insurance
    Home Maintenance
    Home Yard
    Home Tools
    Home Deck
    Home Appliances
    Home Pool
    Utilities Rates
    Utilities Septic
    Utilities Gas
    Utilities Internet
    Utilities Phone
    Utilities Electric
    Utilities Water
    Household Tolls (deductible)
    Household YNAB
    Household Haircut
    Household Groceries
    Household School Fees
    Household Health
    Household Clothes - Kids
    Household Animals
    Household Bank Fees
    Household Postage
    Household Stamp Annual
    Household Kids dollar a day
    Household Youtube
    Household Microsoft Account
    Household Apple Account
    Household Google Account
    Household Budget Feeder
    Household Newspaper
    Household Netflix
    Household Stan
    Household Spotify
    Household Movies
    Household Gifts
    Household Christmas
    Household Birthdays
    Household Restaurant
    Toyota1 Purchasing Costs
    Toyota1 Insurance
    Toyota1 Services
    Toyota1 Tyres
    Toyota1 Rego
    Toyota1 Battery
    Toyota1 Fuel
    Toyota1 Excess
    Toyota2 Excess
    Toyota2 Fuel
    Toyota2 Battery
    Toyota2 Rego
    Toyota2 Tyres
    Toyota2 Services
    Toyota2 Insurance
    Work University
    Work Expenses Reimburseable
    Work Expenses (Deductible)
  • Right now I follow the budget moms template but I'm also looking for other creative budget templates for ynab.

    Like 1
  • After many reorganizations, I think I'm happy with what I have - it's worked for about 3 months without a hiccup.

    This Month's Obligations: Everything due this month, sorted by due date. Includes monthly as well as occasional items which are due this month; as well as a note about how they payment is made. Bills that are paid by mail are listed by the date they need to be mailed, not the date they are due. I end up with long category names, but all the information I need is right there. Examples: 10 HOA dues (mail for 15); 18 Storage unit (automatic); 26 Property taxes (mail for 1). 

    Credit cards and debt: Also arranged by due date. Includes 2 credit cards, 2 old debts which have target debts to pay them off; and 2 old medical bills which I'm on a payment plan for. Examples: 6 Old Hospital Bill (Mail for 11); 26 Credit Card #1 (Mail for 1); Old Vet Bill.

    Future Obligations: Anything due in future months, with next month at the top and then continuing in chronological order. Each of these have goals attached, so that I am saving for each of them as I go. Every month, I move things to "This Month's Obligations" as needed, and change the category name to fit that format. So 04-12 Mobile will move to "This Month's Obligations" in April, and be renamed 12 Mobile (Automatic). Other examples in this group: 05 Summer Camp; 09 YNAB; 01 Dashlane.

    Quality of Life: The stuff we need. Some have goals, especially the ones we're trying to reduce spending on. Gifts are here, and as I become aware of gifts that are going to be needed, I add a note and a goal, like Jimmy 04-10 $40, with a goal to save $40 by April. Other examples: Groceries, Clothing, Medical.

    Eating Out: Gets its own section because it has historically been out of control in my family. This lets me track our total eating out spending, as well as track our family dinners out, my husband's breakfasts that he buys on the way to work, and the lunches I buy at work.

    Fun Stuff: Some of these have goals, mainly the ones we're trying to reduce. Examples: Alcohol, Going Out, Buying Stuff.

    Kid's Money: To track the child's money; she gets an allowance, but has to set some of it aside for savings and donations. What's left is hers to spend, but she usually wants us to hold it for her until she wants to use it. So: Donation fund; Savings; Spending.

    General Fund: This includes a category just called General Fund, which has an undated target goal of $5,000. Then it has other categories, which get paid from the General Fund. Examples: Car repairs and maintenance; Child Care; Home repairs.

    Wish List: Basically a wish farm, except none of the items are getting any funding yet because we don't have that money :( But we'll get there.

  • I feel like my categories may be a bit too specific. I made categories and then made "sub categories" that I fund for individually but will put the charge to the main category name. I think someone else mentioned that it is easier to budget for and spend for something specific than just the general category. Some sub categories are there so I can save for them specifically.

    Like 1
      • Rakuna
      • rakuna
      • 1 yr ago
      • Reported - view

      Magenta Lightning If the categories help your budgeting and don't make it harder, I don't think they are too specific. I have myself gone from more generic to more specific categories and find it makes me understand better where my money goes. For example I could keep all my streaming subscriptions in one category but I feel I'm more aware what I'm paying for when I have separated them form each other.

  • This thread is super interesting and has made me reflect a bit on my categories. I feel I organize them quite differently to most other people, but at least for now it's the way that makes most sense to me in this moment. There are some drawbacks in my system but it also helps me feel clear about my priorities. 

    Here are my category groups and categories (names translated from my own language):

    🌖 Mandatory fixed expenses

    • Building company fees 🏠
    • Internet 💻
    • Phone 📞
    • Mortgage 🏠
    • Electricity 🔌 (every 3 months)
    • Insurance 👷‍♀️ (twice a year)
    • Public transport season ticket 🚌 (every 2-3 months)

    🌖 Mandatory flexible expenses

    • Groceries 🍌
    • Healthcare 🤕
    • Medications 💊
    • Public transport extra zone money 🚌
    • Stuff I forgot to budget for 💸

    🌗 Important fixed expenses

    • Monthly charity donations 😇
    • Monthly house cleaning 🧹
    • Hair dresser 💇‍♀️ (every 3 months)
    • Online services
    • Association membership fees (once a year)

    🌗 Important flexible expenses

    • Hygiene & cosmetics 🧼
    • Clothing 👕
    • Exercise 🏃‍♀️
    • Funds for a specific hobby
    • Gifts 🎁
    • Postage ✉️
    • Home repairs 🛠️

    🌘 Nice to have fixed expenses

    • Streaming services
    • Audible 🎧
    • Newspaper 📰 (every 3 months)
    • Magazines 📓 (1-2 times a year)

    🌘 Nice to have flexible expenses

    • Dining out / take away 🍴
    • Treats (candy etc.) 🍫
    • Cultural events 🎭
    • Patreon 🎨 
    • Books, magazines (single issue), games 📚
    • Other entertainment 📺
    • Charity funds 😇
    • Household goods 🧷
    • Balcony garden 🌻
    • Home decor 🛋️ 
    • Travel 🚆

    💬 Wish farm

    💭 Wish list

    💰 Savings

    • Appliance/tech replacement fund 💻
    • Funds for upcoming renovations 🛠️
    • Vacation fund 🌴
    • Emergency fund 💣
    • General savings 💰

    👛 Cash

    📅 Next month


    So my system is a hybrid of the fixed-flexi structure and needs-wants structure.  I wanted it to clarify for myself the priority of different expenses so if I need to cut spending somewhere it's very clear for me.  So I built this three tier system:

    1. Mandatory expenses - all the things I absolutely need to budget some money towards every months.
    2. Important expenses - things that are not absolutely mandatory but I personally would prioritize if I have to tighten by budget some but not to the minimum.
    3. Nice to have expenses - the first things to go if something has to go.

    As you can see I have divided each of these three into two: 

    1. Fixed expenses - regular (monthly/every couple of months/once a year) expenses that are usually the same amount of money every time. The things in the fixed groups are organized in due date order so first are the monthly expenses and under them the less frequent expenses.
    2. Flexible expenses - well, basically everything else.

    This also clarifies to me what I need to keep more an eye on (the flexible expenses) to not break mu budget.

    And after these three groups I have some of the more regular stuff:

    Wish farm and Wish list are modeled after what Hannah explained on a Youtube video.

    Savings I have tried to mostly earmark to different uses but I also find it useful to have a general savings category where I've set a smaller sum for some future bigger expense.

    I use very little cash so I find it easier to use it as a category than as an account. My budget won't get wonky if I use 5€ cash to flowers without recording it in YNAB. (For some reason my preferred florist seems to be the last person in my world to only accept cash payments.)

    Next month is income made this month I'm going to use to fund next month. I'm quite lucky as I'm quite safely a month ahead. 

    Like 4
  • So these are my current categories. I live in Sweden so these may be a little different than the other ones here on this forum.

    Future - Before the Next Teardrop: This is money where I put towards next months expenses.

    Panic! at the Disco: My emergency fund and sinking funds that are on-budget.

    Journey: Savings that are off-budget.

    Housing & Utilities - Mandatory Expenses: Expenses that MUST be covered. These have goals for each month.

    Living Essentials - Fixed Expenses: Expenses that are the same amount every month, and that are important. Some of these can be removed in case of a crisis. These have goals for each month.

    Personal - Flexible Expenses: Expenses that vary from month to month and that isn't so important. These have no goals.

    Consumables: Everything that includes foods and beverages. Some of these have goals.

    Pets: Everything for my dog. Some of these have goals.

    Transportation: Everything for my car. Some of these have goals.

    Credit Card Payments: Have three credit cards. One is only used for consumable purchases. One is never used but I got it when I switched to my current bank. They have no goals since I always pay the invoices in full and YNAB automatically transfer money from other categories to this one.

  • Sandra Valman said:
    Journey: Savings that are off-budget.

     What exactly do you mean by off-budget?  It's right there on your budget...  I was just curious, because if the category is there, and there's money in it, then to my understanding it is on your budget.  But maybe you think of it in a different way.  I'm just curious, not trying to start a fight or anything.  :)

    Perhaps you have a different account that isn't on your budget, and when you decide to pull money from that, you put it into those categories?  Why not just have it on your budget, so you see how much you have dedicated for each category?

    • Bruce 
      By off-budget I mean money that I transfer to accounts that are tracking accounts, and that I'm not planning to take any money from :) So one of those are savings for my pension, which I save for in stocks and funds at a different bank. So that is why I don't want them to be included in my budget as available money but more as an expense.

  • I've used YNAB since 2015, but have kept my categories fairly broad while using the notes features to separate further if I need to. I graduated college in 2015, so I don't have a lot of the obligations that others do!

    My groups are:

    Fluid Expenses: For expenses that change month to month and that I zero at the end of every month.

    Fixed Expenses: For expenses that have a specific amount that I need to fund (at least on average) that I roll over every month.

    Future Expenses: For purchases/expenses I plan on making in the future that are less defined. This includes a "Slush Fund" category for extra money that I will eventually invest (as well as a pseudo emergency fund for money I can move around to other categories) and "Tracking" which I use for investing or transferring to off-budget accounts.

    Savings: Short-Medium term savings for large items.

    Wish Farm: Larger things that I would like to purchase in the near future or things that I haven't moved up to the savings category yet.


  • I'm only in my first month, and while I love the default categories, I wanted to make them a little more fun:

    Life Tolls (Immediate Expenses)

    Irregular Tolls (True Expenses)

    Permission to Spend! (Quality of Life & Fun)

    Future Debt Prevention (Savings Goals)

    Seeds (Investments)

    Like 1
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