If you plan on creating a budget, you’re going to not only need to create a spreadsheet to visually look at it, but you’re going to need to break down your spending categories as well. This will make it much easier, of course.
Whether you’re using the Dave Ramsey envelope strategy or you want to use one of the many budgeting apps on the market, budgeting always makes sense if you want to be financially secure.
With a TON of budget category options available, I wanted to break d own the most popular personal budget categories for families/individuals, leaving it up to you to determine which category is best for that spending.
To start off your budget right, here are the most popular simple personal budget categories as well as a few awesome 100% free budget spreadsheets you can download for free near the end of my post. These free budgeting spreadsheets will make your budgeting a lot easier, trust me!
105+ Personal Household Budget Categories List
Listed below, I tried to include as many typical personal budget categories, from the simple basics to the more advanced, I could research and think of, listing them in alphabetical order.
Granted, you may not need them all, but I just wanted to include them as some are absolutely essential while other categories are only recommended. To be safe, just check off the ones you figure you will need for your budget.
In short, it’s really up to you to determine which categories are best for you and your family.
What’s a budget without income coming in? Don’t forget to include all of the money that comes in for the month. Let’s start with this first, followed by all of the monthly expenses.
- Side hustles (Uber, Lyft, Doordash, etc)
- Potential bonuses
- Investments (dividends, capital gains, etc)
- Rental income
- Alimony (received)
- Child support (received)
- Gifts (received)
Some see this as a necessity, whereas others may only need clothing here and there. Regardless, it’s a category to consider. Worst case, start a small fund so you do have the cash on hand when you need some clothes.
- Adult clothing (check out 26+ ways to get free clothes!)
- Children’s clothing
- Dry cleaning
For some, debt needs to be considered as you do need to pay it down monthly. Sooner or later, let’s hope this category isn’t even an option if you’re stuck in the hole.
- Credit cards
- Personal loans
- Student loans
- Auto loan payments
- Medical debt
Education needs to be thought about in many forms. Whether you send your child to a private school or are in college yourself, here are some miscellanous education sub-categories to consider.
- Child’s college fund (529 Plan)
- College tuition
- College books
- Homeschooling fees
- Misc. school supplies
- Parking fees
- Private school tuition
- Field trips
Emergency Fund and Savings
Most financial experts recommend having a minimum of six months worth of expenses in a separate account considered your “emergency fund.” Don’t even think about touching it as it will get you through the tougher times in the case of a job loss.
Also, consider creating additional separate savings accounts for future vacations or a big-ticket purchase you want to buy.
- Emergency fund
- Separate misc. savings fund (vacation, new TV, remodeling job, etc)
Fees can exist and while they can be hard to budget for sometimes, here are some to consider:
- Bank service fees
- Check orders
- Insufficient funds fee
- Minimum balance fee
- ATM fees
- Credit card annual fee
- Finance charges
- Cash advance fee
- Late fee
Well, we all need food to survive, so of course, you will need a food budget.
Consider breaking down your food categories into the following sub-categories:
- Grocery shopping
- Restaurants (have kids? 150+ restaurants where kids eat free)
- Vending machines
Let’s face it. Most of these categories are pretty boring, and if we could, we probably wouldn’t want to pay any of them. But who says we can’t have fun? I highly recommend you keep a seperate “fun” fund to ensure you save your sanity.
- Eating out
- Misc. entertainment (bowling, bars, concerts, movie theater, sporting events, etc)
- Magazine subscriptions
- Movie rentals
- Hobbies (video games, toys, etc)
- Hosting parties
This category is often an oversight as many don’t think about this expense until the day of. With so many special occasions held throughout the year, it doesn’t hurt to have a small budget to help ensure you have a few bucks for a gift.
- Wedding/baby shower
- Just because
- Misc. holidays not noted
Some see this category as an absolute must, while others may only give depending on their current financial situation. No one is judging you here, but of course, giving is always a nice thing to do!
This could include the following categories:
Aside from food, you probably purchase common household supplies almost monthly, including…
- Cleaning supplies
- Dishwasher soap
- Laundry detergent
- Toilet paper
- Pool supplies
While insurance bills may seem like a waste of money, they can save you from a financial catastrophe or even a bankruptcy. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may need to budget for the following:
- Home protection plan
- Long-term care insurance
Have kids? Well, you know they don’t come free. Here are some expenses to plan for:
- School uniforms
- Extracurricular activities
- Baby necessities (formula, diapers)
As much as we would all love to stay healthy, medical bills are coming sooner or later. Heck, even if you are healthy, you still need to think about those annual physicals and dental checkups. This category can vary depending on your insurance coverage.
- Routine medical care
- Routine dental care
- Medical devices
- Emergencies (best to start a small fund to cover your deductible)
- Glasses, contacts, etc
In this section, these bills can vary, greatly depending on your circumstances, but you cannot forget about them, especially if it’s a recurring monthly bill.
- Child support
- Cosmetics (makeup, nail salon, etc)
- Dry cleaning
- Gym membership
- Misc. subscriptions
- Organizational dues
If you have a pet, well, like food and shelter, they need a few necessities to survive as well and you can consider breaking this category into the following sub-categories:
- Pet food (see how you can snag free dog food samples)
- Vet bills (if you need help with these bills, check out my tips to find a cheap vet near you)
Don’t forget about retirement as your future self will thank you! Of course, it’s always voluntary, but you should never depend solely on Social Security.
- Financial planner fees (not necessary if you self teach yourself)
- Investing deposits (IRA, 401K, etc)
- 529 Plan
- Health savings account (HSA)
Like food, you need a roof over your head, and even if your home is paid off, this category is still necessary as additional shelter expenses need to be thought of as well.
- Mortgage or rent
- Second mortgage
- Property taxes
- Repairs (if you own, home repairs will always be necessary, so make sure you have a fund started)
- HOA fees
- Professional landscaping service
- Professional pool cleaning service
Those who are self-employed know full well that they need to send in quarterly tax bills to the government.
- Quarterly income tax bills (federal)
- Quarterly income tax bills (state)
- Local tax
- Sales tax
Even if you don’t own a car, you still need to factor in a lot of expenses as they can add up, including:
- Vehicle payment
- DMV fees
- Maintenance (start a fund to pay for oil changes, new tires, etc)
- New car future fund (very important since your car WILL die)
- Parking fees
- Car Warranty
- Repairs (repairs are coming sooner or later, so it’s best to start a fund)
Don’t forget about the many utility bills that arrive in your mailbox, such as the following:
- Cable (if you think your cable bill is high, see my cable TV alternatives)
- Internet (check out 22 ways to get free internet)
- Water and sewer
- Waste removal
- Misc. Supplies
Free Budgeting Spreadsheets
I will probably create a post in the future on the many free budgeting spreadsheets on the web, but for now, I wanted to highlight some of them that won’t cost you a dime. In case you missed it, I did write about the many Mint.com alternatives, with some free budgeting apps listed there.
If you’re serious about budgeting, then I highly recommend downloading one of the following spreadsheets to make budgeting that much easier.
Budgets are Sexy
[Google Docs | Excel]
This “Financial Snapshot & Budget” from BudgetsareSexy.com is pretty colorful and is a very simple way to keep track of your budget. Input paycheck details, track your net worth, watch credit card balances dwindles and even watch your savings grow. Available in a Google Doc and Excel format.
4 Step Budget Template
The “4 Step Budget Template,” created by LifeAfterCollege.com is a very useful four-step budget template. Start with your income, followed by your “must-have” expenses and then the “nice-to-have” expenses. Lastly, you will get a monthly allowance, which allows you to spend on additional items throughout the month if you so choose. In short, it’s a great budget to make sure the primary bills are paid for the month to let you know where you stand.
Personal Money Budget
The Personal Money Budget, created by MyMoneyShrugged, is an awesome budget worksheet in my eyes since it allows you to insert the project costs as well as the actual costs to show you the differences. Plus, another thing that I liked is that it covered most of the categories I mentioned here, making it extremely easy to figure out what you need to set money aside for,
Free Monthly Budget Template
A very simple budget template that gets the job done. To use, type in what each item costs and then assign it to the item’s category. From there, you can see the total amount spent with the amount you budgeted for the month.
Zero Based Budgeting
The Zero Based Budgeting worksheet, much like the Personal Money Budget, created by MyMoneyShrugged mentioned above, allows you to do the same thing, where you can project a budget as well as note what you spent. This is a great way to show you what’s remaining for the week as well as you need to budget more for the month. Also includes many categories as mentioned on this post
Starting a budget, even if you’re reducing it, isn’t all that hard as long as you have the right categories and you have the spreadsheet to get the job done. Hopefully, these categories can help.
Remember, you do not have to use all of the categories I mentioned above. Instead, pick and choose the categories that you know, for a fact, that you use monthly to make it easier to budget.
By writing down and even preparing for your future spending every month, it’s going to make it so much easier and a lot less stressful when it comes down to your personal household spending, I promise you that much. It’s also so much better when you know where your dollar is going.
If I’m missing any categories, do let me know as I would love to add them!
The same can be said about the free budget worksheets. I know the free budget worksheets list isn’t all that long, but I do plan on creating a list in the near future, all of which I will link here when done!
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