110 Budget categories

Finding a budgeting method you can stick with is the first step to achieving your financial goals. Creating a personal budget can still seem pretty overwhelming when you first attempt it. Just thinking about how to make budget categories that fit all your expenses can be time consuming and sometimes frustrating. If you set up your categories too quickly you may find that you’ve overlooked areas where you spend substantial amounts of money

On the positive side, there is no right or wrong way to construct your budget categories. You will have to tailor them to you, your lifestyle, and your spending habits. This leaves you with plenty of room for customization and improvisation.

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Common Budget Categories And What to Include

To help you get started we compiled a list of budget categories typically found in an average household budget. We also added suggestions on what you can include in each category.

Budget CategoryWhat to Include
Housing
  • Mortgage
  • Rent
  • Home maintenance and repairs
  • Property taxes
  • HOA dues
  • Home warranty
  • Large appliances
  • Lawn care
Utilities
  • Electricity
  • Gas
  • Heating
  • Water
  • Internet
  • Cable
  • Phone
  • Cellphone
  • Trash
  • Recycling
  • Sewer
Food
  • Groceries
  • Restaurants
  • Takeout
  • Fast food
  • Coffee shops
  • Alcohol
Transportation
  • Gas/Fuel
  • Car maintenace and repair
  • Auto insurance
  • Parking fees
  • Public transportation (subway, bus, train)
  • Airplane tickets
  • Taxis
  • Uber/Lyft
  • EZ Pass
  • DMV Fees
  • AAA
Debt & Loan Payments
  • Credit card debt
  • Student loans
  • Personal loans
  • Auto loan
  • Alimony
Insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Dental insurance
  • Mortgage insurance
  • Renters insurance
  • Car insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Property insurance
  • Pet insurance
Healthcare
  • Out-of-pocket costs for primary care
  • Specialty care (therapist, dermatologist, ophthalmologist)
  • Dental care
  • Urgent care
  • Prescriptions
  • Medical devices
  • Senior care
  • Health supplements
Kids
  • Child support
  • Baby necessities (diapers, formula, baby food)
  • Daycare
  • Tuition (private school, college)
  • School supplies
  • School lunch
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Tutoring
  • Allowance
  • Baby sitter
Clothing & Personal Care
  • Adult and kids clothing
  • Haircuts
  • Barber
  • Cosmetics
  • Spa
  • Salon visits
Household Supplies
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Paper products
  • Furniture
  • Home decorations
  • Small appliances
  • Pool supplies
Pets
  • Pet food
  • Pet supplies
  • Grooming
  • Vet visits
  • Pet medication
Subscriptions
  • Gym membership
  • Streaming services
  • Magazines
  • Software
Entertainment
  • Books
  • Going out/Bars
  • Hobbies
  • Small electronics
  • Sporting events
  • Concerts
  • Movies
Personal Development
  • Coaching
  • Conferences
  • Webinars
  • Courses
Charity/Donations
  • Church donations
  • Donations to nonprofit organizations
  • Online donations
Savings
  • Emergency fund
  • Retirement
  • Investments
  • Vacation
  • New car
  • College fund
Other
  • Bank fees
  • Credit card fees

Quick Tips

Before you start setting up your budget categories, take a few moments and think about your habits and goals. These ideas are a place to start.

  • Creating a budget that fits your expenses and spending habits is the key to success. Depending on your circumstances you may need to add more budget categories or adjust others. Using categories that fit your spending habits will help you stick to your budget. You can always add new ones if you come across unexpected expenses.
  • Write down your expenses for the previous month before you start building your budget. This way you’ll quickly be able to see if you need all these categories in your budget and if you are missing any.
  • For easier tracking, you can combine multiple categories into one umbrella category.
  • One of the most common pitfalls of making a budget is leaving out a budget category that will require money at some point.
  • You don’t have to stick to the same budget each month. If you know that you’ll have new expenses in a month to come, adjust your budget accordingly.
  • If your budget doesn’t succeed in the first month, don’t be discouraged. Look at what went wrong and adjust your budget accordingly. Most people take some time to refine their budgets!

Are there any categories we missed? Are there any that don’t belong on this list? How would you organize them differently? Let us know in the comments below!

110 Budget Categories: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet