*This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure
Creating your first budget can feel overwhelming at first. That’s why I put together the Step-by-Step Guide to creating a budget.
And to properly organize your budget, I’ve compiled a comprehensive list of budget categories to get you started!
I personally organize my budget into 4 different sections:
- Daily Spending
- Savings Buckets
This helps you separate your fixed expenses from your daily expenses, and save for infrequent expenses (savings buckets) ahead of time.
So make sure to grab a copy of our FREE Budget Template, and then use the below categories to get started!
138 Personal Budget Categories (Organized By Groups)
Income is the most important budget category! And it’s more than simply your paycheck. I am a big proponent of side hustles, and finding extra money with cash back apps like Swagbucks and Rakuten. Every little bit counts!
- Side Hustle
- Tax Refund
- Stimulus Check
- Cash Back
Probably your most expensive personal budget category. Housing isn’t just your rent or mortgage, but you need to consider ALL the costs (especially homeowners). Taxes, insurance, fees and maintenance can add up quick. Make sure to add what you need to your budget so you don’t miss anything.
- Mortgage or rent
- Property taxes
- Household repairs
- HOA fees
- Home upgrades/improvements
- Home security
- Lawn Care
Another category that takes up a decent chunk of the budget. You can buy used cars and drive for cheap, but car payments and costly insurance will drive up the prices (I still believe new cars are the worst investment of our lifetime). Make sure you account for all transportation expenses, or you’ll blow the budget quick!
- Car payment
- Car warranty
- Oil Changes
- Parking fees
- Public Transportation (Bus, Uber/Lyft)
- Roadside Assistance (AAA)
- Registration and Fees
Typically the second or third largest expense (beside housing and transportation), food is simply expensive (it’s our largest budget category because we travel and live cheap on the road). Organic and healthy foods simply cost more. But groceries aren’t the only items consumed, keep and eye on restaurants, coffee and alcohol, as they can get out of control quickly! Also, meal planning apps like eMeals and 5 Dollar Dinners can help save time and money if you’re on a busy schedule!
- Coffee Shops
- Pet food
Utilities are a necessity of everyday life (unless you live off-grid!). Whether you rent or own, you typically will be paying for these services. There are ways to save on these things, but they are expected expenses every month. Don’t forget services like home phone, cable and internet as well.
- Natural Gas
I’ll be honest. We don’t really buy new clothes. But with growing kids, we occasionally have to pick up a few things. We try to find used stuff first (sometimes for free!), then shop new only if we have to. But when I had a sales job, I had to account for new clothing AND dry cleaning.
- Adults’ clothing
- Adults’ shoes
- Children’s clothing
- Children’s shoes
Kids are expensive. But you can truly pick and choose how much you spend on them. Make sure to account for everything in your monthly budget, especially activities that can sneak up on you. And whatever you do, don’t give them an allowance (ask me why)
- Allowance (I don’t recommend)
- Sports Equipment
- School uniforms
- Baby Items (diapers, wipes, etc.)
- School Tuition
- Kids School Fees
- Kids School Supplies
- Child Support
Medical costs don’t necessarily happen every month, but for some, this can be a bigger expense (especially as you get older). Budgeting for these expenses might be better suited for Savings Buckets, but here’s a list of possible medical expenses to get your started.
- Primary care
- Dental care
- Specialty care (dermatologists, orthodontics, optometrists, etc.)
- Urgent care
- Medical devices
Having proper insurance can help you sleep at night, but you don’t usually need all of these, all the time. Some of these, you actually want to avoid (mortgage insurance, for example). Make sure to shop around to get the best rates. Here’s a list of most of the types of insurance.
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Mortgage insurance
- Property insurance (jewelry, etc.)
- Long-term care insurance
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Renter’s insurance
- Pet Insurance
- Home warranty or protection plan
- Auto insurance
- Term Life insurance
- Disability insurance
If you don’t want your house turning into a pile of trash, you might want a few of the items below:
- Laundry detergent
- Dishwasher detergent
- Cleaning supplies
Sometimes you just need to do a little #selfcare, right? Here are a few categories that help you take care of YOU!
- Gym memberships (or home workout program)
- Salon services
Getting out of debt is the #1 goal of most readers here. Debt comes in all shapes and sizes, and some are not even considered debt by some (phone payment plans, etc.). Here’s a HUGE list of the different types of debt, and I’ll link to a few of my guide to help you pay them off. Also, if you haven’t already, check out my Debt Snowball Spreadsheet to help organize your debt payoff journey!
- Home Loan
- Personal loans
- Student loans
- Credit cards
- Car Loan
- Medical Debt
- IRS Debt
- Overdue Bills (Utilities, etc.)
- Cell Phone Payment Plan
- Payday Loan
- Home Equity Loans
- Auto Loan
Investing in retirement is SO IMPORTANT! I detail exactly how to do this in my 5 Steps To Financial Freedom. But sometimes there are fees involved. I personally recommend investing with the LEAST amount of fees possible, but if you have a financial advisor (I broke up with mine), here are a few categories you may need to budget for.
- Financial Planning Fees
- Investing Fees
- Other Fees
Education is important, but can also be expensive! Here are a few of the possible expenses for college and secondary education. If you want to save for these tax-free, check out College Backer for their 529 college savings plans!
- Children’s college tuition
- Your college tuition
- School Supplies
- School Fees
- Room & Board
- Meal Plans
Saving money is the goal of your budget! Here are a few things you should save money for:
- Emergency Fund
- Large Purchases (New phone, laptop, mattress, etc.)
- Car Replacement
- Investing (Roth IRA, Brokerage)
- Other savings
Giving is an important part of your personal and financial life. Giving, gifts and donations come in many different forms. Here’s a quick list of different ways you can budget for giving each month.
Here’s the deal, you NEED to budget in some FUN! Entertainment is something most everyone spends money on, so you might as well allocate some funds toward it! Here are a few things you can budget for to loosen up a bit!
- Alcohol and/or Bars
- Sports Events
Subscriptions are great, but having TOO MANY can drain your money quickly. There are literally THOUSANDS of subscription services, here are a few of the more popular ones.
- Amazon Prime
- Box Services (food, pets, clothing monthly boxes)
- LIVE Sports Apps (ESPN, NFL)
- Membership Dues
Everyone has a unique life, that requires a unique budget. The most important part is to plan the month before it begins!
These categories can help you think about the coming month, and build a budget that accounts for everything.
Now, it’s up to YOU. You can get started by grabbing our free budget template and putting in your own categories today!