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?
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
- Shoes & Accessories
- Tithing (I'm not Mormon, but it sounds cooler than Church)
- 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)
- Kid 1
- Kid 2
- Kid 3
- 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.)
- 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!)
- Supplies (treats, other items, grooming)
Recreation (These are the ones that get raided constantly)
- Computer & Technology
- Entertainment (family fun stuff, movies, etc.)
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)
- Gas & Oil
- 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
- Trash Collection
Rental Property (this is new)
- Property Tax
- Landlord Insurance
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.
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
- T Mobile
- USAA Insurance
- Direct TV Now
- HP Instant Ink
- NY Times
- iTunes-Robo Killer
VARIABLE MONTHLY EXPENSES
- Cleaning Service
- Cash/Spending Money
- Household Misc Items
- Ventra Card Reload
- 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
- Lease Payment
- Illinois Tollway
- Chicago Parking App
- Auto Maintenance & Repairs
- Cat Sitter
- Contact Lens Supplies
- Dry Cleaning
ONE TIME EVENTS
- Michelle's Wedding
- Attorney Fee for Divorce
- Life Happens
- Retirement/General Savings
- Jack's Birthday
- Hannah's Birthday
- Danny's Birthday
- Skidmore Donation
- Amex Yearly Membership
- Amazon Prime
- City of Chicago Auto Sticker
- Car Registration Renewal
- Magazine Subscriptions
- Professional Fees
- New Scleral Lenses
- Plucky Pop Up
- 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
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.
HOA dues 01
Recurring Child Care 01
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.
Car Insurance January
Property Taxes March
and so on, again in order of when they are going to be due.
Quality of Life:
Couches (living room)
New Bike for the Child
various other things...you get the picture.
General Fund Items:
Home Maintenance and Furnishings
Interest and Fees
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.
Hi! Here are mine:
- Rent 1st
- Phone 10th
- Gas/Electric 13th
- Internet 21st
- Renters' Insurance
- Emergency Fund
Flex - Me 🧘♀️
- Fitness 6th
Flex - Others 💫
- Visiting Family
- Family Birthdays
- Hosting Visitors
- Other Gifts
Flex - Non-Monthly 🗓️
- Annual subscription categories
- Travel, food and gift categories
- 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!
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)
- Personal Spendings
- Transit & Rideshare
- TFSA / Emergency Funds
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.
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.
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)
Arts & Crafts
Supp’tl Books & Materials
Health & Beauty
Tickets & Fines
CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES
Movies & Shows
Games, Media, & Apps
Arts & Crafts
Mrs. Fun Money
Mr. Fun Money
ENTERTAINMENT SUB’S & PASSES
HOME & PROPERTY
Law & Garden
Tools & Fixit Supplies
Tolls & Parking
HEALTH & MEDICAL
UTILITIES & BILLS
CELEBRATION & GIVING
Child Friends’ Birthday
VACATION & TRAVEL
EDUCATION & STUDENT LOAN
Student Loan Interest
Student Loan Snowball
[Misc. Investment Accounts]
Qtr 1 Taxes
Qtr 2 Taxes
Qtr 3 Taxes
Qtr 4 Taxes
Child Education Savings
Fun Money Savings
Other Emergency Fund
Here's my current setup.
- Auto Loan - 2018 Crosstrek Anniversary Edition
- Income for Next Month
- The Buffer
- Covered Medical
- Uncovered Medical
- Covered Medical Next Year
- Cell Phone
- Funding Subscriptions
- Giving - Monthly
- Streaming/Entertainment - Monthly
- Subscription Boxes
- Voip Services - Monthly
- VPS Hosting
- 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
- Backup Services
- VOIP Services
- Auto Maintenance - March, September
- Auto Insurance Deductible
- 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
- Family Trips
- Home Improvement
Just for Fun
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>