Personal Budget Categories to Start Your Budget

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Since I started blogging, I have stated that one of the necessities to start a sound financial future and to get out of debt is to start with a budget or creating a budget.

I cannot count the times I blogged about the importance of budgeting.

In six months that I have been blogging, I have created more than three different posts on budgets. Just today, I tried re-reading my budgeting-type posts and found something that’s missing, that is, how and where to categorize expenses.

I have to admit that because I have been budgeting even before my daughter was born, categorizing expenses comes naturally to me.

Luckily, no one has ever messaged me or commented that I needed to write about personal budget categories (i.e. expense categories).

Having said that, I believe in making things understandable and easy to remember and, of course, categorizing expenses is no exception to that rule of mine.

As I said in my previous posts, budgeting can be difficult, but it is doable with time, patience, and practice. Just because you failed on your first budget doesn’t mean that you should stop. I can’t remember how many times I failed on following my budget.

When I said failed I meant that I went over what I budgeted for.

Had I quit budgeting a long time ago, I would not have been able to straighten my finances. Budgeting for me was one of the foundations of getting my finances in order.

In the case of finances, it’s easier for me to see things black and white when everything is written down. I can compute in my head, but I won’t rely on it because I know I will forget something to include in the calculation.

In order household, we use the Budget Binder Printables  and the most simple, user-friendly budget spreadsheet to help us effectively budget and manage our money.

These printables has continuously helped our family get our budget in control and save a ton of money even on a single income. We paid off our $40K debt and, at the same time, saved at least $70K in 2.5 years with the help of these printables (click here for the full story).

To compile these personal budget categories, I had to ask for some help from my co-workers, friends, family members, and my dear wife to make sure I capture as many expenses as possible to correct categories.

Related posts:

Personal Budget Categories

Here are some of the categories you need when you are creating on your budget.

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Anyhow, let's dig in to the categories most essential to creating a working budget.

Income

Income can come from different sources, but the most popular source is from your employment.

Examples:

  • Salary/Wages
  • Interests
  • Side hustles
  • Tax refunds
  • Investments

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Savings

These are the funds that you stash away for many reasons such as retirement, emergency, leisure, short-term requirements, among others.

Examples:

  • Retirement Funds (e.g. IRA, 401(k) and pension)
  • Investments
  • Emergency Funds
  • Short term savings

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Utilities

We all have bills to pay, and utilities are among those bills. Most of our utilities are necessary services, which we need for our daily living. Examples of these are electricity and water.

Examples:

  • Electricity
  • Water and Sewer
  • Natural Gas
  • Trash
  • Internet
  • Phone
  • Cable or satellite

Read: 5 Simple Ways To Cut Costs At Home

 

Housing

Housing maybe one of the most expensive expenses/investments one has, but it is also a necessity. When you have a house, you are not only talking about paying your mortgage.

There are other expenses that come with having a house. These expenses include home insurance and maintenance. If you are renting, your significant housing expenses are rent and renter’s insurance.

Examples:

  • Rent or mortgage
  • HOA fees
  • Repair and Maintenance Fund
  • Property taxes
  • Renters or Homeowners' fees
  • Home improvement
  • Home warranty

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Debt payments

Many people owe student loans, personal loans, and some other forms of debt. It is necessary to allot a portion of your income to satisfy your debt responsibilities.

Remember, not paying your debts may or will cause you more financial problems now or in the future.

Examples:

  • Student loans
  • Credit cards
  • Medical bills (i.e. outstanding bills other than indicated on medical section of this post)
  • Personal loans
  • Funds borrowed from friends and family

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Transportation

Some of us are not fortunate to live in a place where public transportation is reliable. As such, we need cars, bicycles, and something to get us to where we need to be.

Of course, there are costs associated with having and maintaining vehicles.

Examples:

  • Car payment
  • Auto Insurance 
  • Fuel
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Fees (i.e. tags and title)
  • Vehicle inspectionProperty taxes
  • Public transportation/parking/taxi

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Insurance and wellness

Medical, dental, and vision-related costs are expensive. So, without insurance, you are looking at paying hundreds, thousands, or even millions of dollars over time. It’s always best to obtain insurance.

As many say, prevention is better than a cure.

If this means that you have to dedicate some money towards wellness (e.g. gym), then, do it because it may or will save you more money that spending money towards out-of-pockets medical, dental, and vision expenses.

Examples:

  • Insurance (i.e. health, dental, and vision)
  • Wellness (i.e. gym)
  • Life insurance
  • Disability insurance
  • Burial insurance
  • Prescriptions
  • Out of pocket medical costs

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Food

Some of us budget a small part of our income towards food while some budget a big chunk. Food is, will, and should always be a part of one’s budget even when you are getting food for free (thanks to coupons).

Examples:

  • Groceries
  • Eating out
  • Reserves (just in case you are into stocking up because you have a ton of coupons to use to save money)

Read: 17 Ways To Reduce Food Waste

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Personal effects

These are things that we need not look like cave dwellers (not that it’s bad). What I am saying is that we need these personal effects to look right, be hygienic, look presentable, and look neat.

Examples:

  • Toiletries
  • Children’s allowance
  • Beauty/Barber Shop
  • Clothing
  • Laundry/Dry Cleaning

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Leisure/Entertainment/Other Activities

Saving money is good but having fun is good, too. Always make sure that there is a balance between saving and having fun. Remember that life changes can happen anytime.

As my wife and I always say, even if we have a ton of money saved but if we don’t have fun (e.g. don’t do extracurricular activities and don’t go on vacations), then, saving is close to being useless.

Again, what I am saying is balance and not overspending on leisure.

Examples:

  • Vacations/Trips
  • Subscriptions
  • Crafts/Hobbies
  • Gifts
  • Charitable contributions
  • Parties
  • Movies, concerts, videos, theaters, etc.

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Child Care

For those working individuals, child care is needed for their kids. There are daycares that are reasonable, but there are also ones that cost you a lot (more like your paycheck).

But at the end of the day, somebody needs to look after your kids whether you like it or not.

Examples:

  • Child Care/Babysitters
  • Child support/Alimony
  • Child necessities (i.e. food, diapers, formula, and other expenses not covered elsewhere for child)

 

Education

Costs of education can be minimal or can be expensive. While the costs of education (i.e. kindergarten up to high school) may be free, you are still looking at paying quite a few expenses like school supplies, sports activities, among others that can or will add up.

Not to mention, your cost of education will go up once your child goes to college.

Examples:

  • Tuition and fees
  • School supplies
  • Books/magazines
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Trips

Read: 52- Week Saving Challenge

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Miscellaneous

These are expenses not mentioned above.

Examples:

  • Kids’ allowance
  • Postage
  • Pet care/Supplies
  • Computer expenses
  • Others

 

Final thoughts:

These are the personal budget categories you need when you start working on your budget. They are what I call “essentials”. Personally, I would not be able to make a working budget without including all of these categories.

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Read:

Are there any other expenses that you feel should be included? How do you categorize your expenses? Do you think that you have a good grasp when it comes to putting your expenses to the right personal budget categories?

9 Comments

  1. Brad, Financial Coach August 29, 2016
    • Allan Liwanag August 31, 2016
  2. Aliyyah @RichAndHappyBlog August 29, 2016
    • Allan Liwanag August 31, 2016
    • Allan Liwanag August 31, 2016
  3. Gloria Kaye November 13, 2016
    • Allan Liwanag November 16, 2016