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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  • I have not even completed my trial period at this time (although I can say with absolute confidence that I *will* be subscribing) and so my categories have been evolving as I learn more about the tool and the system.

    However, I am reasonably happy with how everything has been lining up so far, and while I am sure that my budget will continue to evolve as time goes on (I just read about and like the idea of a "wish farm", for example) I think what I have is workable for at least the present time.

    Keep in mind that in my budget ORDER IS IMPORTANT.  Groups that are higher up on the list are considered to be higher priority for funding (for whatever reason), and even the categories within a group may follow the same principal.

    Using the YNAB philosophy as my core, the basic idea in practice is that money flows from the top down and overspending pulls from the bottom up.  My hope is that this will guide me to making better budget decisions, particularly when I am standing at the checkout register and trying to make sure that I have enough budgeted to cover a purchase without running myself short on covering a utility bill or loan payment.

    I have also added commentary to provide additional insight and explanation, as appropriate.

    And so, without further ado...

    To be Budgeted (where new money flows in, and waterfalls down)

    Credit Card Payments  (in order of descending APR, not alphabetically)
    - Care Credit
    - PayPal Credit
    - Mastercard
    - Visa

    Loan Payments (in no particular order)
    - Home Loan
    - Auto Loan
    - Student Loan

    Scheduled Expenses (these are known expenses with scheduled payments)
    - Utilities (each utility bill has its own scheduled payment, with high-water estimates if variable)
    - Insurance (auto & life)
    - Kids (music lessons, activity fees)
    - Entertainment (Sling TV, Netflix, MoviePass, etc.)

    Monthly Expenses (these are regular expenses, but unscheduled and/or variable in cost)
    - Interest & Fees (credit card interest, online order processing fees, etc.)
    - Groceries
    - School Lunches
    - Auto (gas, tolls, etc.)
    - Home
    - Pets
    - Shopping (catch-all category for everything else I don't want to specifically track)
    - Everything else (if it just doesn't quite fit in the "shopping" category...)

    Periodic Expenses (occur less frequently, but predictably)
    - Auto Maintenance (everything from car washes and oil changes to major repairs)
    - Home Maintenance (remodeling, appliance repair, and so on)
    - Medical
    - School Enrollment
    - Gifts

    Entertainment (this is intentionally placed here as a reminder that any overspending in this category MUST take away from something...like the new truck my wife says that she wants ;-) )
    - Dining Out
    - Movies
    - Music

    Savings (planned expenses, someday.  I may replace this with the "Wish Farm" concept)
    - Emergency Fund
    - New Vehicle
    - New Computer
    - Vacation


    I have been playing around with using "Goals" as reminders to budget certain amounts of money each month towards the more variable or irregular categories (Monthly & Periodic Expenses) but I am probably going to have to take a bit more time before those really "lock in".  What I would like to do is set a goal for each category at the "high water mark" to carry from month to month, then I can simply budget to replace what I actually spend!

    However, before I can start working towards that objective I need to make sure that I at least cover any purchases made on credit, and this month I had a rather significant medical bill that I needed to pay so I'm not sure how much I'll be able to put towards that objective this month!

    That's it so far, I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone thinks about it!

    Like 2
  • I just simplified my budget for 2018.  I had many main Categories, Entertainment, Automotive, Recreation,...ect.  I have no debt or anything complicated to track.  However, I spend too much on each category and NEED to see that number in one place.  So I basically just made two main categories; my "Base" and dragged and dropped all sub categories of items that are essential every month (gas,groceries, Elec,..). Then one other Main category I called "Household" with everything else.  I dragged "Household" category to the top of the Budget list so when I am on my iPhone app I can see the dollar amount immediately for all the misc stuff I do all month (Restaurants, clothing, movies,...ect).  Much better for me.  I can still dig down to my sub categories for details.  I think this will help me focus on my "too much fun" money.

    • Kate
    • Joyful Technical Writer 馃尨
    • sweet_sunshine
    • 3 yrs ago
    • 6
    • Reported - view

    I thought I would post my wish farm here since I updated it and I made it plant themed! I am definitely trying to grow some foliage in this category. 馃槀

    Like 6
      • Jannelle
      • jannelle_ynabsupport
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 2
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      Kate Ah, I love this! It's perfect 馃尡

      Like 2
  • Lol  Kate , I actually have plants in my categories, and at the top is a succulent.  So at first, I thought that was what you meant literally.  馃榿 

    I love your way of doing your wish farm.

    Like 2
      • Kate
      • Joyful Technical Writer 馃尨
      • sweet_sunshine
      • 3 yrs ago
      • 1
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      Pikayo When I move into a new apartment I'll probably make a wish farm category that includes actual plants now that you mention it. 馃槀

      Thank you so much!

      Like 1
  • After watching the "Quick Budget" tutorial, I'm thinking about reorganizing my categories so that top priorities or things I generally pay with a specific paycheck (mortgage, HOA dues, etc., with the first paycheck each month) are grouped together.    I love the creativity here!

    Like 1
  • I have a post about this on the old YNAB forums but I discovered that while it seems logical to group categories based on groups like food, house, transportation, etc. This is not really the best way to organize them for the budget scree. I group mine based on what the pattern is of how often the category is used:

    • Variable Spending - categories that are always going to be used multiple times a month, e.g. Dining out, Groceries, Gasoline
    • Irregular Spending - categories that may or may not be used in a given month, e.g. Gifts, Entertainment, Auto Maintenance, Clothing, Haircuts
    • Savings
    • Monthly - Things that typically are paid monthly on the same day every month, ordered by the  due date
    • Multiple Months - Things that have longer spending patterns, e.g. yearly license plates

    This is better for me because the way you budget each type is typically different from the other types. Having a Transportation group doesn't help me because you are lumping together things like Gasoline that you spend multiple times a month, Auto Maintenance which might not be used for months, Plates which are yearly, etc.

    This makes the budget screen more logical, but the downside is that you see those groups on the account transactions. Wish there was a way to hide the group in the account registers.

    Like 1
      • lindsay_g
      • Beige_Banjo.3
      • 3 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      dalewking Me too. My main groupings are Daily, weekly, monthly spending, which includes groceries, eating out, phone etc. Then Sometime or yearly expenses, which includes car insurance , car maintenance and other big hits that may or may not be predictable.

      If I need to borrow for a daily cost I can quickly see a yearly pot it could come from, and they are all on goals so I get the orange light to remind me to repay it.

  • I'm still in my trial period. My categories have changed several times in the past 6 weeks. At first I had my categories grouped almost exactly like we had them in Quicken. However, for budgeting this way makes so much more sense to me. I'm sure they will get adjusted as we get used to YNAB.

    Here are my current categories. We get paid bi-weekly and AOM is still under 30 days. Savings Goals has my $1000 EF (we followed Dave Ramsey's way for several years). Monthly bills are in the order due so I know when they need to be funded; they have monthly funding goals. Everyday Expenses get partially funded at the beginning of the month and finished up with the 2nd check. They have monthly funding goals, too.

    Dated Sinking Funds are in order by soonest to furthest away (except the first one). These have funding by date goals. Most of the Variable Sinking Funds have goals without dates. Three of the 4 CCs have zero balances & are used very seldom. The 4th one is our gasoline card that gets PIF each month.

    Payroll Withholding is self explanatory. We budget from gross, not take-home for personal reasons. Our Wish Farm doesn't have anything yet, and our Wish List is still very small. The hidden categories are payroll things from a job that is over.

  • The only 6 you'll ever need. It uses percentages. Here's the source. http://givemore.money/budget 

      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      jclay12345 You might get a little feedback on that link from others because it's not YNAB thinking, but it's working for you, and you still track every transaction, then press on. I have two coworkers who don't budget at all, just look at the bank balance. I wish I could get them to at least follow your instructions. 

      Like 1
    • Ben K. It still follows the YNAB rules. Every dollar gets a job, but under the category. So if your income is $100, you have $10 or 10% to split within your Give category that can contains educational giving, gifts, random acts of kindness, etc. Well I guess I should say 6 category-groups. 

      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      jclay12345 Ah, that clarity help. I thought you just had 6 categories, which should still be awesome to get my coworkers to. Because they'd be tracking their spending (not done today), thinking about future goals, and making changes now to achieve those goals. I'll keep interjecting into their financial lives where they allow it. 

  • I've loved reading this thread, it's interesting to hear how people arrange their finances.


    My large categories are:

    - Mortgage and Maintenance (fixed costs)

    - Car (loan and insurance, it's an EV so no gas charges)

    - Household Bills (almost all fixed except electricity, so mobile, internet, subscriptions)

    - Living Expenses (variable costs but recurring, so groceries, household consumables, food I buy at work and coffees/snacks)

    - Vacation and Activities (pretty much quality of life things, going away, paid activities like races or experiences etc)

    - Occasional Expenses (gifts including charitable, clothing, personal care, medical, gadgets, white-goods)

    - Savings Goals (effectively my savings balances or specific savings goals)

    The philosophy behind it is literally from those things I must pay, to should pay, to could pay to would pay in order of priority.

    Like 3
  • I was eager to read this.  I'm still pretty new to YNAB (about a year) and I've found the True expenses method too difficult as a way of planning for every annual expense (I've come up with 20 so far).  I figure I have about $2400 in these, so I just budget $200 per month which automatically gets transferred to a savings (tracking) account.  Then I move the money back in each month as they come up so I have a net zero category for "True Expenses" that looks like what's shown below (screengrab only goes through Aug, but there's more).  I have an identical system for travel- $500 per month goes into savings, can't book travel until there's enough money in that account, just move money in when that happens.  The savings categories are musts because those transactions are on autopay.  Come at me with why this is wrong, I'm interested!

      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Slate Gray Cobra For one thing, your annual net amounts are under 2400, so by saving 200 a month you are over allocating almost 400 a year (depending on the exact dmv amount).

    • adriana01 Thank you!  But like I said, I didn't scroll down to December and do another screen grab.  My annual expenses as I'm aware of them right now add up to $2424.

      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Slate Gray Cobra I guess I missed that comment.

      One of the things that I have found by tracking these amounts in categories,and making my decisions about how much money to transfer to savings a separate question, is that I generally have to transfer money out of savings less often because most of my expenses can be covered by my paychecks. I transfer money to earn more interest, not to make sure I don't spend it.

      Like 2
    • adriana01 I hear that.  Currently all of my savings accounts are really spending-in-the-future accounts.  I will think about that.  

      Like 1
      • adriana01
      • adriana01
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Slate Gray Cobra it also means I can treat the interest I earn on my savings just like any other income, because it doesn't matter what account it lives in when I categorize it (only when I spend it)

  • Here's mine. I am trying to start small and only grow the list if it is really needed

    Like 1
  • So I figured this would be the best place to ask, and I apologize if this has already been discussed (I'm working through the responses but there are a lot): how do you guys handle "clothing"? As a true expense, or as a line item, or as part of spending? 

    I tried to break out clothing as its own line item but at this point in my life, I don't really need to buy anything? And when I do it's usually a spur of the moment "this sale is great" kind of thing, so I just tend to classify it under the "Spending" category. If I desperately want a particular item of clothing (which is very, very rare) I would probably just wish farm it, honestly. 

    For reference, this is how my True Expenses/Fun Money categories look right now. 


      • prittyspeshul
      • My teeth and ambitions are bared
      • prittyspeshul
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 7
      • Reported - view

      prittyspeshul Oh, and for reference, my husband's name is Bill and all of those expenses are paid through his account. I didn't need to remind myself that they were bills. 馃槀

      Like 7
    • prittyspeshul I have a clothing/appearance "True Expense" category I use for clothes, hair cuts and my yearly-ish shoe replacement but I don't fund it regularly. I usually keep it funded to the cost of a new pair of shoes, since that's the most expensive item it needs to cover, and replenish it after spending. Clothing isn't something I splurge on though (I'm more the type who tries to guess when I probably need to refresh something, before my mother or someone tells me they're embarrassed for me) so there's little risk it leads to overspending.

      The unnecessary stuff I do tend to splurge on (BOOKS) I do keep under personal spending to help me attempt to keep it reasonable.

      Like 1
      • Khaki Storm
      • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
      • Khaki_Storm.1
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      prittyspeshul I have it as a true expense and fund it each month (like $30), but as you've said only spend out of it every few months. There's also 5 of us. Our most expensive items are under garments. Nearly everything else comes from Goodwill. I like the Goodwill nearest to the rich neighborhoods, often times find new clothes with tags still on. Other than that we shop seasonally, buying winter clothes on sales in Spring, etc. 

      Like 1
      • jenmas
      • jenmas
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      prittyspeshul I got rid of headers like immediate obligations and true expenses from the start. Clothing comes under my Personal Stuff group which also includes Personal Care (makeup, pedicures, massages, etc), Mobile Phone, Gym, and a few other categories. 

      Like 2
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      jenmas Same here! I like to follow Elizabeth Warren's balanced money formula, so every Master Category that I consider savings (I guess they'd be true expenses and things I'm saving long-term for, like vacations) starts with "Savings: XXX", everything that I would still have to or choose to pay if I lost my jobs starts with "Needs: XXX" and everything else starts with "Wants: XXX". Well, that's not entirely true. I also have "Check Withholding", which is a mix of taxes, which don't count in the formula, and everything else, since I am saving for retirement, paying for optional insurances/gym/parking, and paying for needed insurance that I would pay out-of-pocket for COBRA.

      So I have optional groceries for ice cream, cokes, etc. and essential groceries for rice, meat, vegetables, etc., and I have an optional clothing budget for each of us for when we just want something and an essential one for things like "my main pair of shoes sprung a leak" or "I don't have enough presentable clothing to wear to work anymore".

      Like 3
  • Here are mine:

    Food: Groceries, Restaurants

    Savings: Freedom Fund, College (for my son), Vacation, Gifts, Computer/Software, Gadgets, Christmas, IRA, Charity, Stupid Tax, Car Replacement, Emergency Fund, Buffer

    Housing: Mortgage, Property Tax, Homeowner's Insurance, Maintenance & Repairs, Alarm Monitoring, House Cleaning, Appliances, Remodeling, Other

    Auto: Gas, Repairs & Maintenance, Insurance, Registration, AAA

    Utilities: Gas & Electricity, Phone, Internet, Satellite TV, Water & Trash

    Personal: Doctor/Dentist, Prescriptions/Medicine, Haircut, Drinking Water, Boys, Clothing, Alimony, Self Improvement, Miscellaneous

    Recreation: Entertainment, Music, Games, Poker

    Pets: Vet, Grooming, License Fees, Misc

    Like 1
      • bevocat
      • Sometimes, It Just Sucks to Be You
      • bevocat
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 1
      • Reported - view

      Superbone I love that your Savings Master Category has the most in it! It's how I feel too. If I didn't have to save up for all the "this and that" my budget could be a lot leaner!

      "Patience, grasshopper. One day you'll get caught up on your home repairs."

      Like 1
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      bevocat I am glad you noticed! Also, I made sure to put it near the top of my categories as it's the most important to me. (Only behind eating, I guess. 馃槃 Oops, now that I said that it doesn't mean my sweet dog is my lowest priority. I hope you didn't read this Claire!)

      Like 2
      • Superbone
      • YNAB convert since 2008
      • Superbone
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 3
      • Reported - view

      Dang it. Found her in the other room on my laptop with her reading glasses on and shaking her head.


      Like 3
    • Superbone I laughed harder than I should have at this! 馃ぃ

      I have a husky and all his expenses go in my "Parental Expenses" category. I just told myself to keep an eye on that category because it's gotten scarily low - not that it isn't one of my most important categories! (No one tell him)

      Like 2
      • Elle Jay
      • Ellejay
      • 2 yrs ago
      • 2
      • Reported - view

      Superbone Love the Self Improvement category!! definitely adding this to mine

      Like 2
    • Khaki Storm
    • YNAB book topics online: https://support.youneedabudget.com/r/q5w48j
    • Khaki_Storm.1
    • 2 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    Here's mine after 4 months of use. I'm thinking some one be sub optimal, still a work in progress:

    • Monthly:
    • Rent/Mortgage
    • Trash
    • Telephone
    • Gas/Heat
    • Electric
    • Water
    • Internet
    • Life Insurance
    • Software Sub
    • Dental (braces payment)
    • Fortnightly:
    • His Gas
    • Her Gas
    • Weekend Food
    • Weekday Food
    • Laundry, Pets, Cleaning Supplies
    • Giving Church
    • Allowance
    • Fun Money
    • Work Expenses
    • Annual/Quarterly/Irregular:
    • Tax Prep
    • Clothing
    • Auto Plates
    • Auto Insurance
    • Auto Maintenance
    • Home Maintenance
    • Medical
    • Medical Rx
    • Quality of Life Goals:
    • Passports
    • Giving OTCO
    • College for Children
    • Gifts
    • Education (Homeschool Materials)
    • Christmas Gifts
    • Vacation
    • Fitness
    • Dining Out
    • Investment
    • Where PYFS and Fortnightly meet:
    • Mortgage payment
    • Fortnightly expenses

    Here's some explanation:  

    Monthly are monthly bills (except water). Water funds are used for the water softener salt, not really a bill, I just buy it as needed. I budget these categories into future months (except Rent/Mortgage, see later on). These have monthly funding goals.

    Annual/Quarterly/Irregular are the True Expenses. I know these are coming, but either once a year or something else that's more than monthly. I budget these categories into future months. These have monthly funding goals.

    Quality of Life Goals: A bit of a mixed bag. In timing these are similar to the annual group. However, they are more wants than needs. I want to save up for passports or college for children, but if I can't then I just can't. I budget these into the future, but if money gets tight, then this is the group that goes without funds first. Please keep in mind everyone's situation/context is different. For example, you might ask, why is Education (Homeschool Materials) a category that is going to go without money, isn't that a True Expenses to buy books every year!?! Don't you care about your children's education? Yes, it was a True Expense until older sibling graduated and younger sibling now has all the material (books, teacher guides, software, videos, science kits) needed to graduate. Now the category just covers unexpected pop-up needs, maybe tickets to the zoo for a field trip or something like that. These have ether target category balance by date or monthly funding goals or target category balance. It just depends on the category.

    Fortnightly and Where PYFS and Fortnightly meet: Call it a crutch, a hack, or brilliant, whatever you want, but my reality is having all of these types of expenses (food, gas, cleaning) for the month sitting in one category didn't work. The money was spent too fast. The first attempt was making categories for each week (Food Week 1, Food Week 2, etc.) but while it worked well on the spending side, it was too much time in the budget moving money to and from (maybe I had a day off work week 1 and didn't use as much gas, then I'd have to move that to week 2). Also, not all months have 4 weeks exactly/cleanly (month ends mid week, YNAB rolls over at the end of the month), so that was another thing to remember and track, too much admin time. Enter compromise (thanks to those in the UK sharing their thoughts): All the accounts in Fortnightly are funded just like it says. The goals on them are target category balance. I do not fund these specific categories into future months. You might say, whoa! That's paycheck to paycheck thinking. Before we get to that and you vote me off the island, the categories work well. If I don't use as much gas this fortnight, say $10 left in the category, and the next fortnight comes around, when I budget using the target balance it takes the $10 into account. I'm not moving money around. If the fortnight starts in one month and ends in the next, the balances roll over (they are either positive or zero, I take of negatives immediately). Again, saving admin time. The only thing I need to track is when to move money into those accounts, which is once every fortnight, easy calendar rule in outlook or google. Now for following the rules, I have a category group 'Where PYFS and Fortnightly meet' with a category Fortnightly expenses that has a target category balance equal to  4 weeks of Fortnightly expenses. That category is budgeted into the future. In fact, it's fully budgeted for this month and next month. I'm planning (although the creek may rise, etc.) to use my next paycheck this month to fund that category for May, which will be one of the last few categories I need to cover all of for May. All that to say, I am paying my future self, but I needed to meter out the monies in smaller buckets. (Ah, buckets of monies...) The size of the category might need tweaked when a 5 week month comes around, but it might keep working as is.

    Mortgage payment might be the last one to leaving you wondering. This one could be sub-optimized, probably too long to explain (I will explain if asked, no worries there), but similar mechanics as Fortnightly expenses. It is getting budgeted into the future months in a separate category from Rent/Mortgage.

    Ask away if you have any questions of suggestions.

    I've been reading closely the threads on how far ahead to budget. It seems like many users create a single category to hold money vs. budgeting into the future for 5 months or 6 months.

  • I have combined BFI's (Barefoot Investor - Aussie finance guy) method with YNAB. So my master categories are set up according to his strategies:

    1. 60% for daily expenses. By daily expenses, he doesn't means occurring on a daily frequency, but just day to day expenses. Mortgage, bills, insurance, car, groceries, etc.  Lot of things in this master category.

    2. 20% Fire extinguisher. So this is for debt reduction, emergency fund, mojo fund (his version of a $2k emergency fund) and then eventually, paying down mortgage and then investing for retirement.

    3. 10% Smile - Medium term saving - vacations, house renovations

    4. 10% Splurge - I only have 2 categories here - fun money and eating out/take-away. This is also the category I tend to use to top of the daily expenses master category if needed. 

    Like 1
  • Here is mine after 7 years with YNAB. I have it boiled down to what works well for us. I also have several tracking accounts for my investment account and my wifes 401K . I also track our homes worth and what is owed using tracking accounts. 

               Category Bank

    YNAB Fees

    Float Account (I use this as a reimbursement account for Company expenses that are reimbursed.)

              Category Other


    Haiti Support

    Subscriptions AARP

              Category Computer Services


    1 Password

    Apple backup software



    Amazon Prime Membership

              Category Food



    Supplies ( I use this for sundries. IE; TP-Toothpaste etc.)

              Category Housing


    HOA Fees


    Yard-House-Hot Tub Maintenance

              Category Personal

    Prescriptions and Doctors

    Gift and Misc

    Pacific Cleaners


    Clothing and Shoes

    Better Half Haircut

              Category Savings

    Christmas 2019

    Vanguard Investments (This is auto deposit to my investment account.)

    Excess of Budget (I sometimes get more than I think so the excess goes here until I decide where to move it.)

    Ally Savings

              Category Tax

    Saved Tax Money 2019

              Category Transportation and Auto Insurance


    Auto Insurance and Umbrella

    Auto/DL Registrations

    Repairs and Maintenance 

              Category Utilities

    AT&T Cell phones

    City Of BL Water and Sewer

    City of BL Alarm Fees

    Comcast Internet

    Simplisafe Monitoring

    Puget Sound Energy

    Waste Connections DM Disposal

    Like 3
  • For me, the important thing is the questions I want answered about my finances, not the categories directly. By starting with the question (the top level category), every subcategory is designed to provide the answer at the level of detail I need. Running a report is now very meaningful, as the fundamental questions that give me insight are front and centre, and I can drill into the detail easily.

    I want to know how much I am spending to:
    - eat and drink
    - run our cars
    - run our house
    - run our cottage
    - access internet and cell phones
    - get personal items we need
    - do the sports, recreation, and entertainment we enjoy
    - keep our pets
    - go on trips and vacations
    - managage medical issues
    - manage business expenses
    - manage finances and loans

    These questions are mostly independent from each other, however there is definitely some overlap that simply needs a decision of what I care about. For example, the internet could be considered part of the house expenses, but since it is always changing and is tied to the cell phones, I like to know about those expenses explicitly so I can keep a closer handle on them.

    The categories and subcategories representing these questions are:

    Food (groceries, restaurants, licquor)

    Transportation (gas, car insurance, maintenance, parking, licenses)

    Communications (internet, cell phones)

    Housing (house tax, hydro, water, insurance, natural gas, house maintenance & supplies, lawn care)
    - note that when we sell the house and move to the cottage, this is the set of expenses that disappear

    Cottage (cottage tax, hydro, insurance, boat gas, propane)

    Personal Items (cash-Pocket Money, clothing and shoes, hair, gifts, subscriptions)

    Recreation (entertainment, skiing, photography, scuba diving, etc)

    Pets (Dog food, dog supplies, veterinarian)

    Travel and Vacation (Small trips, Ski trip 2019, Camping 2019, etc)
    - I have a general ongoing category (small trips) for routine things, but a specific category to track major vacations.
    - I find it really helpful to run a report on the category of a previous year's ski trip so I know how much to budget this year.

    Medical (Dentist, drugs, glasses, etc)

    Business (categories for various business expenses)

    Financial (bank fees, bank income, visa points refund, investment dividends)

    Loans (Car loan, Loan to child, etc)

    Like 8
      • QC
      • HaplessFinanceProfessional
      • Queenofcoin
      • 2 yrs ago
      • Reported - view

      Jim Leask This is how I like to look at my Finances...How much does this house cost?  How much do the utilities cost?  How much  Personal Spending do I do?

  • I'm still new to ynab so these probably still need to be tweaked so any feedback is appreciated. I am not a fan of ynab's default structure in fact I hate it so I completely redid the category groups too. I noticed others on here using emojis so I had some fun and added them to mine too.

    I also try to keep it simple, such as having one category for all my utilities and another for all my subscriptions. To me Netflix is a payee not a category and if I want to know how much electricity is costing me well I can easily track that by payee and if not by memo field. If a category has only one payee I reconsider if I could get by with combining it, some like rent I don't because it is a large regular payment that it makes sense to budget separately. Others like utilities are smaller and easy to combine without problems. Tithing I am still unsure of, currently I have that bundled into my planned giving category but maybe like rent it should be separate even though it will only ever have 1 payee.

    I am also toying with the idea of moving groceries to a food master category with additional categories for frest fruits and veggies from the local farmers market and another for saving up for bulk meat purchases at a local butcher shop.

    The order isn't based on importance or timing but to put certain categories in easy reach on the mobile app.


    Rest & Relaxation 鈴

         Dining Out 馃崝

         Tech Toys 馃捇

         Fun Money 馃帰

    Personal 馃懄

         Books & Education 馃摎

         Subscriptions 馃棑

         Phone Buyout 馃摫

         Insurance 鈽傦笍

         Medical 馃拪

         Banking Fees & Interest 馃彟

    Transportation 馃洠

         Car Payment 馃殫

         Gas & Oil 鉀

         Auto Maintenance 馃О

         Fees & Fines馃懏鈥嶁檪锔

    Housing 馃彔

         Rent 馃洀

         Utilities 鈿

         Groceries 馃崬

         Household Expenses 馃Щ

    Giving 馃巵

         Planned Chairitible 鉁

         Unplanned Chairitible 馃げ

         Birthdays & Christmas 馃帀

    Savings Goals 馃挵

         Emergency Fund 馃Н

         Car Replacement 馃殬

         Down Payment 馃彙

    Credit Card Payments

        Credit Union Visa

        Capital One Mastercard

         Citi Double Cash

         Furniture Store

    Like 2
  • Posted in my journal a little bit ago.

    Not all are actively funded or used very often, but this keeps me fairly organized.

    Account Minimums to Keep

    - Ally Savings

    - CapOne Checking

    - CapOne Savings

    - TFCU Checking

    - TFCU Savings

    - ST Checking

    - ST Savings

    Debt Payments

    - Auto Loan

    - Student Loan


    - Armory

    - Computing

    - Network

    - Photography/Videography

    - Telecom


    - Misc One Time Projects

    - Project Fundings

    Monthly Expenses

    - Cell  Phone

    - Funding Subscriptions

    - Gas

    - Giving - Monthly

    - Groceries

    - Meds

    - Streaming/Entertainment - Monthly

    - Subscription Boxes

    - Voip Services - Monthly

    - VPS Hosting

    Yearly Expenses

    - Auto Registration

    - Auto Insurance

    - Domain Registrations

    - Mail Services

    - Software Subscriptions

    - Streaming Services

    - Taxes

    Immediate Obligations

    - Backup Services

    - VOIP Services

    True Expenses

    - Auto Maintenance

    - Gifts

    - Giving

    - Clothing

    - Personal Care

    - Medical

    - Legal

    - Purchases for Others

    - Stuff I Forgot to Budget For

    Quality of Life Goals

    - Education

    - Family Trips

    - Vacation

    - Investing

    Just for Fun

    - Entertainment

    - Gaming

    - Manga/Comics

    - Movies

    - Music

    - Dining Out

    - Fun Money

  • Hi there! I re-organized my categories at the start of the 2019 year to help me track certain types of spending. And I really like how they're working out for my needs! Here are mine:

    Like 3
  • Here what I came up with.

    Fixed Expenses - Monthly  - this group is for expenses that occur monthly and the amounts are fixed

    Variable Expenses - Monthly - this group is for expenses that occur monthly and the amounts are NOT fixed

    Fixed Expenses - Periodic - this group is for expenses that occur quarterly/yearly/bi-weekly/etc. and the amounts are fixed

    Variable Expenses - Periodic - this group is for expenses that occur quarterly/yearly/bi-weekly/etc. and the amounts are NOT fixed

    Savings - various savings funds

    Reimbursements - money I may loan out to others

    I also use emoji's to indicate categories that can be sweeped at the end of the month (all my monthly expenses). All the categories in my monthly groupings can be sweeped to it's easy for me select and sweep them all at the end of the month.

    Like 1
    • Voracious Reader
    • YNAB broke is not the absence of money, but rather the judgment that it has something more important to do.
    • Orange_Cheetah.3
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 1
    • Reported - view

    Made some changes this morning, slept, then made a few more. I've kept a lot of  the defaults, but I'm starting to put my own stamp on it. Still on the paycheck to paycheck cycle, fwiw, so my budget reflects that. All feedback is appreciated!

    Immediate Obligations All monthly recurring bills, plus groceries and gas. Things I will absolutely buy every month that need to have funds allotted to them.

    True Expenses: Predictable Categories I need to be accumulating funds for where I know the due date I will be spending the money. I put the due date in the category title and keep them ranked in the order of the next upcoming expenditure. When I pay AAA (currently at the top) for the year, I'll move it to the bottom and then Prescriptions (which I mail order 3 months at a time) will be on top.

    True Expenses: Irregular Categories I need to be accumulating funds for where I don't know when I'll need them, just that I will.

    Targeted For Reduction: I CAN DO IT Originally I named this the "cost of disorganization" category where I'd put things like late fees, bank fees, fines, and work lunches where I didn't plan to eat out but didn't pack a lunch either. Decided that was too negative...I want to enjoy looking at my budget!

    Quality of Life Stuff that will make my life better or more worth living.

    Just For Fun Self-explanatory.


    Immediate Obligations

    • Giving: Feed America: 5th
    • Auto Insurance: 10th (this will be GONE after June because I will be paying 6 months in full in July!)
    • Cell Phone: 10th
    • Internet: 13th
    • Hulu: 21st
    • Comenity Bank CC: 24th
    • Giving: Give Well: 25th
    • Medical Deductible and Co-Insurance: 27th (from a hospital stay in February...hospital is letting me make interest-free monthly payments)
    • Washington Post: 27th
    • Rent: 30th
    • Groceries/Toiletries/Pet Supplies
    • Gas

    True Expenses: Predictable

    • AAA renewal 5-28
    • Prescriptions 6-08
    • Cat's Exam/Vaccines 7-1
    • Auto Insurance 7-9
    • Renter's Insurance 7-9
    • Oil Change 11-1
    • Christmas 12-15
    • Vehicle Registration 3-1
    • YNAB Renewal 5-15

    True Expenses: Irregular

    • Veterinary Care
    • Auto Repair and Maintenance
    • Home Maintenance
    • Tech Replacement Fund
    • Clothing/Laundry (I pay 1 dollar a load to dry my laundry at home...washing is free, so giving it its own category seemed like overkill.)
    • Medical Deductible
    • Car Replacement Fund
    • Medical Copays and CoInsurance
    • Dental
    • Gifts

    Targeted For Reduction: I CAN DO IT!

    • Work Lunches and Snacks
    • Avoidable Purchases (stuff I buy to replace things I've misplaced, or stuff I buy because I can't remember if I'm out of it or not...like shampoo when I have 2 bottles under my sink)
    • Fees and Fines
    • Stuff I Forgot To Budget For

    Quality of Life

    • Personal Development
    • Career Development
    • Household Durable Purchases
    • Vacation
    • Fitness
    • Classes

    Just For Fun

    • Dining Out
    • Kindle
    • Movie Rentals/Tickets
    • You Deserve It! (aka Fun Money)
    • Gaming

    Wish Farm

    • T- Gottlieb Planetarium ($25)
    • S- Hy-Vee Annual Delivery  ($99)
    • M- Christmas In Seattle ($500)
    • L- "Move to Portland" Fund ($2,000)
    Like 1
    • DnA
    • IT manager, husband, father, YNAB podcast listener
    • Navy_Blue_Cup.2
    • 2 yrs ago
    • 2
    • Reported - view

    I just came across this topic the other day and was inspired to revisit my budget categories.  I just re-organized mine based on suggested categories from http://www.myfinancialpeaceofmind.com.  

    My Buffer includes a just in case fund, a keep the change fund (thanks, BoA), and my emergency fund. Right now my savings just consist of our coin bank, so don't laugh at the balance :-)

    Like 2
  • This is a good post to read for ideas.  I just changed our categories last month, and I think they may be working for us.  We'll see how it is with this structure for a bit longer, and if it seems lacking, I'll return here for more ideas.  There are 22 category groups, though several of the groups are related and could easily fit under another umbrella together.  I prefer the granularity, as it allows better communication about specifics.  But, either I'm still getting used to it or it's unwieldly.

    Budgeting Sessions

    • End of the Month (for income that trickles in before our second monthly budgeting session)
    • Next Month Variable (for gas/groceries/household items that will need to be used in the first half of the month, before the next paycheck)
    • Month Ahead (in which to throw extra money as we work towards this status... after debt is paid off, though)

    CC Payments (PIF with their lines)

    Debt Payments

    • Student Loan
    • Extra Debt Payment


    • Mortgage
    • HOA Dues
    • Buffer (this is quite small, just the overage from the direct deposits.  I think of it as an unnamed savings that makes my husband happy)

    Operational Technology (monthly bills, essentially, but husband did not want them to be grouped with the mortgage/HOA because that's a closed system.  A small request, in the big scheme of things.)

    • Interest & Fees {none, please}
    • Electric - Due at random
    • Internet
    • Cell Phone
    • Software Subscriptions
    • Gas
    • Tolls


    • Groceries
    • Convenience Meals
    • Running the Household
    • Cloth Supplies (reusable household supplies that require more upfront cost, but last much longer)
    • Clothing
    • Decor

    Wedding (we started YNAB after getting married, so this is where we are holding money given to us for gift purposes.  Most is spent, but we want to make good use of the last bit and ensure it is specifically for setting up a home/family, not bills/fun.)

    • Registry Gift Cards
    • Registry Purchases
    • Wedding (was just used for last expenses like stamps, thank you cards, etc. It shall soon retire somehow.)


    • Tithe/Church
    • Charities
    • Gifts from Us
    • Gifts from Spouse #1 (these will be strange - we have hardly funded the gifts category, but maybe this separation will help with surprises?)
    • Gifts from Spouse #2

    Long-Term Expenses

    • Prescriptions
    • Car Insurance (Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct)
    • Life Insurance (Mar/Aug)
    • Motor Insurance (Jul) (about to join the yearly ones, I think? or put all the insurances together?)
    • Yearly Memberships (I actually have 5 separate categories for things like professional organizations, YNAB, Amazon, with their due dates in the category title.  This LTE category is annoying for reports, but is much easier to use on the budget screen.  I suspect changes will be made over time)

    Contingency Savings

    • Medical
    • Dental
    • Auto Maintenance
    • Home Maintenance


    • Upgrades (the idea here is that our wish list items have the transactions run through here when they're ready, but it's a lonely category)

    Upgrade Wish List (unfunded)

    • Pots and Pans Shelf
    • New Windows
    • Stair Rail
    • Baseboards
    • Kitchen Cabinets

    Wish Farm

    • Closet!
    • NFP Class
    • Massages

    Keep in Mind/Wish List  (unfunded)

    • Travel
    • Serger Serviced
    • Sewing Machine
    • New Car

    Future (unfunded)

    • New Washer/Dryer
    • Education
    • Vacation

    Professional (categories for each of us for development/certification)

    Traveling (used to track the current trip; pinned to the top of the app temporarily when needed)

    • T: Lodging
    • T: Transportation
    • T: Road Food
    • T: Food
    • T: Other Spending (Actually, this doesn't exist because we've only visited family and not spent anything other than food.  But it will as soon as it's needed.)
    • T: Potential Savings (A bit of a buffer for the trip, just in case our guesses were off.  The name helps us remember that if we don't use it on the trip, we get to pay down debt faster.)


    • Dancing and Dates (this is the only category that gets money outright, a pittance at the moment)
    • Dining Out (if we eat out, we pull from Groceries)
    • Us Together
      (anything for us to enjoy together that's not a date, like books we're reading aloud, movies, etc. It's usually pulled from the dates category.)
    • Treats (things like ice cream, chocolate, kolaches, alcohol - nice things that are/aren't groceries and may not count as a date because we're not focusing on each other.  We usually pull from groceries because they're usually food.  We've considered putting this subcategory in Homemaking... Still thinking on it.)
    • Dog (also usually isn't budgeted to expressly; dog food is split out of groceries and money is moved from groceries.  Same with any other supplies, but from Running the Household.  There will soon be a monthly amount to cover medical things)

    Hobbies (mostly unfunded - not typically priorities.  If something specific becomes a priority, we plan so it gets funded adequately.  I think we'll need fun money sometime, but there are so many other priorities!)

    • Music
    • Tools/Equipment
    • Band (funding)
    • Ballet (seeded, sitting unused.  I want to use it, but then it will be gone...)
    • Spouse #1 Fun
    • Spouse #2 Fun

    Gifts and Bonuses (a temporary category to hold money until we feel sure we won't waste it, but it's supposed to be used on something nice, whatever that means at the time.  It will likely be combined with Wedding at some point for reporting)

    • Gift Cards
    • Gifts to Us
    • Decide What to Do with Me (if we can hang on to this until the student loan is paid off, this will either function as extra to finish it off, or a celebration of past frugality, which likely means Wish Farm.  Otherwise, now it's a Stuff I Forgot to Budget For.)


    • Emergency Fund
    • Holding for KC
    • Holding for Retirement (we need to make sure this amount is tenable in our budget before committing)

    Reimbursable/Tax Records (things for work to make tracking easier).

    Like 1
  • MN State Fair (2nd largest in country!!), Twins Home Opener and Car Tabs are I few I don't see all too often that I LOVE having in my budget :)

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