Creating a budget is one of the first steps you should take for getting your finances in order. The process can seem overwhelming, but it isn’t difficult. One of the biggest challenges is knowing how to categorize your expenses to keep everything organized. In this article, you’ll find a list of more than 90 budget categories and subcategories you can use to create your own budget.
If you’re looking for more detailed guidance on the budget creation process, please see my article How to Create a Budget that Works.
The categories listed in this article are only suggestions. Not all of them will apply to you. You should include only those that are relevant to you in your own personal or family budget. You can also change the categorization in ways that make more sense to you if you’d like (for example, moving homeowner’s insurance under “housing” instead of “insurance”).
Of course, you should also add any categories or subcategories that are relevant to you but not listed here.
Below you’ll find a list of budget categories and subcategories. They aren’t prioritized, so feel free to put them in whatever order you like. The purpose of listing these categories is simply to give you some ideas and to help you find the categories that should be included in your own budget.
Housing is one of the biggest areas of expense for many households., and it’s obviously important. The subcategories listed here should be a reminder that housing costs more than just your monthly mortgage or rent payment. You may not have all of these expenses, but the ones you do have can add up very quickly.
- Property tax
- Homeowner’s Association (HOA) dues
- Home maintenance and repairs
- Home improvements
- Home security
→ Related reading: The Realities of Mortgage-Free Living
Utilities can be one of the more challenging categories to budget for, because the costs can fluctuate so much throughout the year. It’s better to be conservative and estimate your expenses on the high end so you don’t have any unpleasant surprises.
- Natural gas
Food is another big part of the budget, especially if you are feeding a large family or if you eat a lot of meals at restaurants. Moving more towards groceries and less towards restaurants will save you a lot of money overall.
- Coffee shops
This category will vary a lot from person to person depending on factors like if you have a car, how long of a commute you have, and if you have to pay tolls and parking every day.
- Car payment
- Routine maintenance
- Fees (registration, etc.)
- Public transportation
→ Related reading: How to Save Money on Gas
There are a lot of different types of insurance policies that you may have. This doesn’t cover them all, but the most common types of insurance are listed here. If you prefer, you can also put these into other categories (move car insurance to the “transportation” category, etc.)
- Homeowner’s insurance
- Renter’s insurance
- Life insurance
- Health insurance
- Dental insurance
- Vision insurance
- Disability insurance
- Long-term care insurance
- Car insurance
- Jewelry insurance
- Umbrella insurance
Health Care / Medical
Health insurance was listed in the previous category. This category includes medical and health-related things not covered by your health insurance.
- Uncovered visits medical expenses
- Prescription drugs
- Over-the-counter medication
- Vitamins and supplements
- Glasses and contact lenses
- Medical devices or supplies
- Gym membership
This category has endless possible subcategories. I’ve listed a number of them below, but be sure to adjust these to suit your needs and your own life. You could also break out some of the subcategories to make them a category of their own if you prefer (for example, clothes). It really just depends on your preferences and your spending habits.
- Adult’s clothes and shoes
- Kid’s clothes and shoes
- Dry cleaning
- Home decor
- Cleaning products
- Paper supplies (paper towels, toilet paper, tissues)
- Laundry detergent
- Baby supplies
- Haircuts and styling
- Toiletries and cosmetics
This could be for your own education, or for your kids.
- School supplies
This is another category, like “household”, that is kind of a catch-all. Use the subcategories that are relevant to you, and add any others that are needed.
- Equipment for sports and hobbies
→ Related reading: 20 Clever Ways to Save Money on Travel
This is a budget category that is easy to overlook, but the amount that you spend on gifts throughout the year adds up. These gift expenses will probably fluctuate from month-to-month, so my suggestion is to budget for an average and set aside anything that is extra until you need it. It’s also a good idea to be saving for Christmas gifts throughout the year. I’m also including charitable donations here.
- Charitable giving
- Christmas gifts
- Birthday gifts
- Wedding gifts
- Special occasions
It’s important to have fun too! These subcategories will really depend on your interests and what you like to do for entertainment. Be sure to leave some room in the budget for these activities.
- Nights out
- Netflix/Hulu/Sling/Other TV
- Events (sports, concerts, theater)
- Magazine subscriptions
- Website subscriptions
Savings is an important part of the budget. If you want to reach your financial goals you may need to make sacrifices in some of the other categories to have enough in the budget for savings.
- Emergency fund
- House downpayment
- Health Savings Account
- Other investments
→ Related reading: How Should I Prioritize My Savings?
Be sure to include any debt payments in your budget. The more money you can allocate to that debt each month, the sooner it will be paid off. I included a mortgage in the “housing” and a car payment in the “transportation” category, but you can move these around according to however it makes the most sense to you.
- Credit cards
- Student loans
- Personal loans
- Child support
If you’re working on creating your budget, be sure to see my article How to Create a Budget that Works. That article walks you through the process, and you can also download my budget template to make it even easier.