One larger category or several smaller ones?

So I'm pretty sure I've seen this come up with regard to vacations, but I couldn't find the conversations, so I'm asking again.

Generically: You have something you're planning for that will have lots of little pieces to it. You have estimates for some of the pieces, but not all of them. Do you make individual categories for the pieces, or use the category notes? How do you keep track of the pieces so you make sure to save up enough?

For specifically the vacation example, you're going to somewhere, and get estimates for the flight. And you want to do this specific activity, so you have the how much that will cost. And food, and whatever else. How do you make sure you've saved enough to not worry about the cost while you're on your vacation?

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  • Fuzzball Meows This is such a good question. It's one that I've struggled with myself! I actually keep only one large category for things like vacations or moving and funnel everything through that one category. Before the thing happens (vacation, etc.), I create a spreadsheet with the estimated expenses and plan for them that way, then set a Needed For Spending target on the category. Admittedly, it's not a perfect system and I've had to roll with the punches a few times when I've spent more than anticipated on eating out.

    I'd love to hear how others handle this!

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    • nolesrule
    • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
    • nolesrule
    • 2 wk ago
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    I have a general category that is regularly funded, but for specific events I have a specific category and move money from the general category as the event is planned.

    For smaller expenditures I just categorize to the general category.

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      • nolesrule
      • Stealing From the Future fix is an improvement but is incomplete....
      • nolesrule
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      To add to this, the primary reason is we have been known to have multiple trips in the works at the same time, and it gives us a better idea of what we can really do with our money for each of these trips without them impacting each other inadvertently.

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  • For me it's one category and assign more than you need (i.e. a buffer) for the trip.

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  • This is the age old question that pops up occasionally.  I have vacillated between simplicity with combined categories and being more detailed with multiple categories.  I tend to favor simplicity.  I once had multiple categories for utilities (power, gas, cable, phone, Spotify...) but now I have one utility category and budget a par amount of $500 monthly.  I have done this with other categories as well.  I only have one vacation category and I budget a monthly amount to that one as well.  The last time we went on vacation I charged all eating out to the vacation category since we ate out every day.  I guess I could charge it to restaurant and XFER money from vacation since I have monthly funding goals for most categories, I never budget average amount spent.  As far as determining how much to budget you can just estimate how much you spend on each sub category and then roll that up to one category.

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  • I generally save in one general category, and then when the spending starts, I create a category group that is broken down a bit more. This way I can keep an eye on my plans for lodging, food, gas, etc.

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