Creating a budget is one of the critical steps to managing your finances. However, to build a budget that you can follow, it needs to be set up correctly. To help, I’ve created a list of just about every budget category imaginable to help you get organized. 


Different Ways to Budget 

The list I’m sharing with you has over 100 income and expense categories, enough to cover just about every scenario imaginable. Before getting started, however, you may be wondering how to keep track of your budget. The short answer is that you should use whatever method makes sense for you. 

There is no shortage of free and paid budgeting apps you can access right from your mobile device, while many people still prefer using plain old pen and paper. If you’re a spreadsheet whiz, you could even concoct your own budgeting tool using Google Sheets or Excel. Now, let’s go through the list. 


Net Income 

The first category in any budget is the income category. This is where you will record your regular income from all sources, starting with your take-home pay from your job. If you’re a pensioner, you will use that instead. To keep things simple, always use your net income, or the amount which goes into your bank account. Include your expected income from all sources, no matter how small. 

  • Regular paycheck 
  • Pension benefits 
  • Work bonus 
  • Work savings plan (employer match) 
  • Rental Income 
  • Royalty Income 
  • Spousal or Child support payments 
  • Government benefits 
  • Investment interest 

personal-expense-categories
Expenses

Once you’ve recorded all of your expected income for the budget period, it’s time to account for your expenses. It can be a long list, so I recommend creating primary categories, such as housing or transportation, and then listing smaller sub-categories underneath. It may sound like budgeting 101, but it’s crucial to get this right. Ready? Here we go! 


Housing 

If you’re like most people, your three most significant expenses will be housing, transportation, and food, with housing at the top of the list. These are also the categories where you might be able to find the largest savings, although you may need to get creative. 

  • Mortgage 
  • Rent 
  • Property Taxes 
  • HOA dues 
  • Fire Insurance 
  • Renters insurance 
  • Household Maintenance 
  • Appliances (washer/dryer, refrigerator) 


Utilities 

You could include utilities under the housing category, but I prefer to give it’s own spending category, as the list can be several items long. I like to list them immediately after the housing category, as they are closely related. 

  • Natural Gas 
  • Electricity 
  • Water 
  • Cell phone
  • Cable 
  • Internet 
  • Garbage collection 


Transportation 

Transportation costs can vary wildly, depending on your proximity to things like work or school, the size of your family, or even your spending choices. For example, if you live in a central location in a large city, you may be able to rely on a combination of public transit, walking, or cycling, to get where you need to go. If you need to commute, then owning a car is likely a non-negotiable. You may even need two vehicles if you are living with a partner.

  • Car payment (if applicable) 
  • Car Insurance 
  • Vehicle registration fees 
  • Gas 
  • Routine vehicle maintenance (oil changes, tires, etc.) 
  • Other vehicle repairs 
  • Transit fees 
  • Tolls 
  • Parking fees 

100 ways to organize budget


Food

Food is one of the largest expense categories for most people. And depending on your lifestyle, things like eating out can eclipse the amount you spend on groceries each month. This is a budget area that you need to be mindful of because it’s easy to overspend without realizing it compared to other, more fixed budget categories. 

  • Groceries 
  • Restaurants
  • Coffee/snacks 
  • Meal Kit Delivery 


Personal Debt

I included a car loan payment under transportation costs because I think it’s essential to understand precisely how much you’re spending to get from point A to point B. However, you could choose to list that expense separately in the debt category. While no one wants their debt category to be very long, don’t beat yourself up if you have some work to do here. The first step to paying off debt is to write it down so that you know exactly how much you have. 

  • Loan payments (car, consolidation) 
  • Revolving line of credit payment
  • Credit card payments 
  • Student loan payments 
  • Retail store credit card 


Education

Not everyone will have education expenses, but it can be one of the more significant budget categories for many people. 

  • College tuition 
  • Books/school supplies 
  • Private lessons
  • Online courses 


Child Care

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise – having kids is expensive, although worth it if you ask me. Child care costs can vary wildly, depending on your situation. Of course, one of the most significant expenses is daycare. Here is a complete list of what you can expect to include in this budget category. 

  • Daycare 
  • Babysitting 
  • Child support payments
  • School Supplies 
  • School lunches
  • Clothes 
  • Registration fees for sports, dance lessons, etc.
  • Sports equipment
  • Private school tuition 
  • Tutoring
  • School field trips  


Pets

Pet expenses may be one of the most underestimated costs people face. It’s no surprise that the pet industry is worth almost $100 billion. Before you decide to invest in a dog, cat, or other pet, make sure you understand how it might impact your bottom line. 

  • Pet food 
  • Pet supplies (leash, kennel, kitty litter) 
  • Vet costs (check-ups, medication)  
  • Toys 
  • Grooming 
  • Kennel stays / Doggie daycare
  • Pet insurance premiums 


Insurance Expenses 

One of the first rules of personal finance is to make sure you are adequately insured. But there is a cost to the protection and peace of mind insurance provides. Here are some of the various types of insurance you can expect to pay for. Please note that I’ve listed car insurance and homeowners insurance elsewhere in the transportation and housing budget categories, respectively. 

  • Health insurance 
  • Dental insurance 
  • Life insurance 
  • Disability/Critical Illness insurance 


Personal Care Expenses

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Some people might include this in their grocery expenses since many personal care items are purchased simultaneously. However, I prefer to assign personal care its own category for more accurate accounting.  

  • Soap/Shampoo 
  • Skincare products 
  • Razors/shaving cream 
  • Clothes 
  • Shoes 
  • Hair appointments
  • Hair color 
  • Eyebrow/Eyelash appointments
  • Manicure/pedicure
  • Massage therapy 
  • Gym membership


Healthcare Expenses 

No budget is complete without a healthcare expense category. Make sure you account for every member of your household. 

  • Prescriptions 
  • Glasses/Contact lenses 
  • Medical visits 
  • First Aid equipment 
  • Mobility aids


Household Items 

Household items are an example of living expenses that are often overlooked but deserve their own budget category. 

  • Cleaning supplies 
  • Laundry detergent 
  • Dishwasher detergent 
  • Lightbulbs
  • Smoke alarms 
  • Fire extinguisher 
  • Paper towels 
  • Vacuum 
  • Kitchen appliances 


Miscellaneous Expenses

Typically, miscellaneous expenses are anything you haven’t included in any other personal budget category. It’s the part of the budget where I include the various fees I pay throughout the year. 

  • Bank fees 
  • Credit card annual fees 
  • Membership dues 
  • Misc. user fees 


Gifts 

It’s important to recognize important milestones with your family and friends, from birthday parties to holiday gifts. But gifts can put a strain on your budget if you don’t plan properly. Here is a list of gifts you may need to buy throughout the year. 

  • Wedding gifts 
  • Birthday gifts 
  • Anniversary gifts 
  • Gifts for a teacher 
  • Gifts for a coworker 


Entertainment Expenses

Everyone’s definition of entertainment is different. What does it look like for you? 

  • Sporting events 
  • Movie tickets 
  • Streaming subscriptions (Netflix, Spotify, etc.) 
  • Camping 
  • Hunting or Fishing  


Charitable Giving 

You should always set aside a separate category in your budget for various forms of giving, as it is an expense you must account for. 

  • Tithing 
  • Charitable Donation 
  • Child Sponsorship 
  • Donation to a political party 


Savings/Investment 

Last but not least is savings. Perhaps I should have put this at the top of the list, based on the age-old advice that you should always pay yourself first. Regardless, your savings is an expense, even though the money stays on your balance sheet. 

  • Retirement savings 
  • Emergency Fund
  • Education savings 
  • Health savings (HSA) 
  • Vacation fund 


Final Thoughts on Personal Budget Categories

There you have it, my list of over 100 personal budget categories for you to consider. For more information, check out these tips on how to budget. I recommend that you compare my list to the one you’ve created to see if there’s anything you need to add to your budget. Remember that you won’t need to include everything here; stick with what’s relevant to you. Also, if there are any budget items I’ve missed, please let me know in the comments below. 

Tom Drake is the Founder of MapleMoney and covers Fintech and side hustles on Get Rich Slowly. Tom has written for U.S. News & World Report and has been featured on Forbes and Entrepreneur.