This post may contain affiliate links. This means if you click a link and purchase an item that I recommend, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own.
You’ve heard everyone saying you need to create a budget and now you’re finally serious about it or at least you’re having thoughts about creating one. If you have no previous experience with creating a budget it may seem overwhelming or ridiculous at first, but if you want to get serious about managing, saving and investing your money you need to have a budget.
A budget is simply having a plan for your money and knowing where your money is going every month.
Have you ever been in a situation where at the end of the month you’re trying to figure out where your money went or if you’re constantly penny pinching and wishing you had more money. Oftentimes getting more money won’t solve your money issues. Changing your spending behavior and learning to manage money is the only way to become financially free.
My favorite budgeting tools
The 68 budget categories outlined below are the most common categories found in personal budgets and will ultimately give you an idea of what to include when you’re creating your budget. Also remember that not all of the categories are monthly such as an oil change, but you still need to account for those things in your budget!
Your income can come from a variety of streams but the most common income categories are listed below.
- Side Hustles
Your savings are accounts where you put away money that you don’t plan to touch for a while or will only use if an emergency comes up.
- Emergency Fund
Housing categories are things such as mortgage/rent and any other expenses that may arise related to housing.
- Property taxes
- Household repairs
- Homeowners/housing insurance
- Home security service
- HOA fees
- Lawn care
Utilities are those necessities such as water and electricity and some may consider cable a necessity. With services like Netflix and Hulu, ditching cable to watch your favorite shows whenever and wherever has become the norm.
- Phone Service
- Cable, Satellite or Tv subscriptions (Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
Your budget for food and household products will most likely fluctuate by month but be sure to not under budget this category. You’ll probably find that your spending on takeout food will decrease once you become more aware of what you are spending your money on.
- Dining Out
- Household supplies
- Pet food
Owning a car can come with forgotten and sometimes unexpected expenses. When creating your budget don’t forget to include those regular and unexpected expenses.
- Car Payment
- Car Insurance
- Maintenance- tires, oil change, vehicle registration renewal
- Toll fees
- Parking fees
- Car registration
- Air travel
- Public transportation fees
- Carsharing expenses (Uber, Lyft, Taxi)
Debt has become a normal part of life and there are many categories you can include in the debt category of your budget. If you rent to own furniture you can include that in your debt category.
- Student Loans
- Medical Bills
- Credit Cards
- Personal Loans
What’s life without a leisure budget category? If you travel often or have a hobby be sure to include those categories in your budget.
- Gaming systems
- Amazon prime
- Music subscriptions (iTunes, Spotify, etc.)
Guy or girl, we like to have new personal items every now and then so don’t forget to add these items to your budget!
- Hair care
You can’t plan for when you’re going to get sick, but planning for copays and the approximate cost of medicine can keep you out of a bind when those expenses do come about.
- Prescription medicine
- Dental insurance
- Life insurance
- Medical insurance
- Vision insurance
If you’re in college and footing the bill yourself or if you have kids who are in school, don’t forget to budget for these things even though they may not be as frequent as other expenses.
- Tuition and fees
- School supplies
Check out these post to get control of your personal finances:
- 39 Best Money Saving Tips
- 17 Smart Ways To Build An Emergency Fund
- 17 Successful Ways To Control Impulse Spending
We often forget to include the following most important miscellaneous categories in our budgets.
- Child care
- Veterinarian visits
- Pet accessories
- Gifts- wedding, birthday, holidays, anniversary, baby shower
- Memberships – gym, professional
- Kid camps
- Computer expenses
Outlining your budget categories is only 1 step of the budgeting process. Assigning specific amounts to each category is the next step. It’s important to know that your first few weeks or month or two of budgeting may be somewhat of a challenge however, by sticking to your budget the process will get much easier.
Although these budget categories are arranged a certain way, feel free to arrange them in a way that works best for your family’s budget.