If you want to have a successful budget one of the best tricks I’ve found is to make sure my list of upcoming household expenses is accurate.
Years ago to help me stay on budget, I put together my ultimate list of home budget categories. Once I started using this list each month to prepare my budget I was amazed at how much easier it was to create my expense categories.
Now each month when I’m preparing my upcoming budget I review my monthly budget categories listed below. I use this list to determine what is going to be on my budget and amazingly enough, I usually remember to include everything.
In the past, I’d always forget upcoming events and would completely blow my budget. Not anymore (most of the time – let’s be real)
Can you imagine having an accurate budget every month? A budget that actually factors in your life and all the randomness that happens.
I know it sounds crazy, but seriously if you use this household budget category list every month I promise your budgets will be more accurate.
This list will help you remember all the random stuff you just can’t keep track of on your own.
For example, car registration only comes around once a year. I used to always forget, but now, I review my list each month and it mentally reminds me to check and see if that item needs to be added to my monthly budget.
85 + Home Budget Categories To Help You Budget Accurately:
1. Home Budget Category – Housing Costs:
- Mortgage payment or rent
- Property taxes (typically part of your escrow payment in your Mortgage if you own a home)
- Household repairs – This one is hard to estimate, so I try and put aside a set amount of money each month for potential repairs
- HOA Fees
- Lawn Care
For most people, their housing costs are the number one expense in their household. Everyone accounts for their mortgage costs, but it is easy to forget to contribute to a sinking fund for household repairs or to include the cost of lawn care in your budget.
2. Home Budget Category – Utilities
- Phone – Cell & Home Phone
- Alarm System
- Heating Oil/Natural Gas
Unfortunately, most utility costs are hard to decrease. However, I’ve found that by contacting services like my phone, cable, internet and alarm companies annually I can often get discounted rates. You can read more about what I do here – How to Cut Costs On Your Current Bills
3. Home Budget Category – Transportation Costs
- Car Payment
- Regular maintenance/oil changes/tire rotations
- Repairs – I treat this the same way I do home repairs
- Parking fees
- Registration and DMV Fees
Car payments are often the second highest household expense. When you combine regular payments with unexpected repairs budgeting for transportation can be really hard. I remember one month when two of our cars had major repairs – $3,400 later and my emergency fund was almost gone.
This one experience taught me the importance of always putting aside a little bit of extra money for potential car repairs.
On a side note, you may enjoy reading about why we run our cars into the ground and see how much money it can save you.
4. Home Budget Category – Food
- Fast Food
Creating an accurate food budget is really hard since there are so many variables. I’m always on the hunt for ways to decrease my grocery spending and have written quite a few posts on this subject.
If you want to cut costs on food check out these posts:
- 14 Money Saving Tips to Cut Grocery Costs
- How to Balance Healthy Eating With Living on a Budget
- How to Create a Meal Plan That Works
5. Home Budget Category – Clothing
- Adults Clothing & Shoes
- Kids Clothing & Shoes
- Work Clothing – I budget this separately since the cost can vary significantly depending on job requirements
- Dry Cleaning/Clothing maintenance
I do a variety of things to save money on clothing. The basic tips are to shop outside of season, shop at discount clothing stores like TJ Max & Marshalls. Goodwill should be your best friend.
One of the best ways I’ve found to get great deals on clothing is through Thredup. I seriously love using them for work clothing and finding nicer name brand items.
6. Home Budget Category – Medical Costs
- Medical Costs
- Dental Costs
- Specialist Care – Orthodontics, Optometrists – can we say braces – ugg
- Urgent Care or Emergency Visits
- Medications – over the counter and prescription
- Medical Devices
Unexpected medical costs can be really, really pricey. I work in the medical field and really feel for anyone with major medical issues. The cost can be out of control. If you are in this situation I recommend checking out, How To Be Your Own Healthcare Advocate.
7. Home Budget Category – Insurance Costs
- Medical Insurance
- Dental Insurance
- Vision Insurance
- Life Insurance
- Short Term Disability Insurance
- Long Term Disability Insurance
- Home Owners or Renters Insurance
- Auto Insurance
- Umbrella Policy
Always, always shop around for the best insurance rates. Also, call your current insurance company annually and review your existing insurance. Make sure your deductions and coverage limits still fit your current financial situation.
I have a love-hate relationship with insurance. I hate paying the bills, but when I actually need the insurance am very, very glad I’ve got the coverage.
If you haven’t shopped around for new vehicle coverage recently check out
8. Home Budget Category – Household Items
- Personal Toiletries
- Cleaning supplies – including dishwasher & laundry detergent
- Bathroom supplies
- Household tools
- Replacement of household items – towels, sheets and other items that wear out periodically
Household items are always a difficult area for me. For the sake of my budget, I typically combine this area with my grocery budget since I usually buy these items at the same times.
I’ve found that when I buy in bulk I tend to save the most money. I watch for sales and go crazy when I see a good deal.
One of the few areas that I don’t try to go as cheap as possible is my cleaning products.
Since having a baby, I’m a lot more picky about the products I use in my home and have gradually started switching everything over to natural products from The Grove Collective. They have some amazing products and although the prices can be more expensive if you get on their mailing list they are always doing promotions.
9. Home Budget Category – Personal Care Costs
- Physical fitness/gym membership
- Haircuts/Salon services
- Cosmetics – makeup & haircare supplies
- Babysitting costs
- Spa Type services
- Facial care products
Personal care cost
You may have completely different priorities and get your hair professionally dyed every 6 weeks.
How you spend your money doesn’t matter so much as staying within the budget you’ve set for yourself in this area. I just focus on making wise frugal living decisions based on my priorities.
10. Home Budget Category – Subscription costs
- Netflix or other online video services
- Cloud Storage Services
- Monthly app costs
I didn’t use to ever worry about this category until I took the time to add up my subscriptions one month. I was spending almost $50 each month on various subscription.
It totally blew my mind.
Needless to say, I got rid of the services I wasn’t using and have been a lot more careful since then to only sign up for services I love and actually use.
11. Home Budget Category – Debt (not included above)
- Personal Loans
- Payday Loans
- Student Loans
- Credit Card Payments
- Medical Debt
- Other Debt
Uggg – DEBT! I hate debt and have done everything possible to become debt free. I’m getting there, but it has been a long slow process. If you are ready to take that step these posts will help you get started:
- How We Paid Off 293,000 In Five Years
- How To Pay off Debt When You Have No Money
- 3 Simple Steps To Pay Off Debt
12. Home Budget Category – Retirement Savings
- Retirement investing including 401K plans, IRA’s, Annuities and various insurance costs
I am a huge believer in starting your retirement accounts right now. Like seriously just start now. If you don’t know where to start, go simple and open an ACORNS Retirement account. You can do it on your phone. Link it to your bank account and bam you have an IRA started.
Obviously, there is a whole lot more to the whole thing than this, but please just start.
Related Post: How to Start Your 401K Account
13. Home Budget Category – Personal Savings Goals
- Emergency Fund
- Sinking funds – Covered above for car and home, but you may have additional areas to consider
- Personal Savings goals – I save monthly for vacations and a new car
I’m all about saving money. My family teases me that I have savings accounts for my savings account because I like to stash cash. Seriously though, every dollar you can save will make your life easier down the road.
If you don’t have an emergency fund I recommend starting there. Having an emergency fund will help keep you out of debt, save you money and ultimately help you manage your money better.
I personally use Digit as my saving account and love, love, love it. I can’t believe how much money I’ve managed to accumulate just by turning Digit on and letting it do its thing.
Related Posts: How to Use Digit To Automate Your Savings Plan
14. Home Budget Category – Educational Costs
- College Savings accounts
- Current School costs/fees
- Sports-related costs
- School supplies
School costs are seriously out of control – and I’m just worried about pre-school right now!
One of the things I’ve done to start preparing for future college costs is open a 529 plan. I’m only contributing $100 per month right now, but am hoping to increase that amount in the next 1-2 years.
I currently do my 529 investing through WealthFront. I really love using the online
If you are struggling to get started with college funds, start simple with a program like WealthFront. The important thing is to get started.
15. Home Budget Category – Gifts/Donations
- Charitable Contributions
- Celebration type gifts – Christmas, Anniversary, Birthdays, Weddings, Special Occasions
I’m a firm believer in including charitable giving in my budget. I’ve noticed that when I prioritize helping others I make better financial decisions.
16. Home Budget Category – Entertainment
- Sporting events
- Activities with friends
Entertainment costs are so subjective. I think the key to getting your entertainment costs correct in your budget is to be realistic. It is really easy to underestimate how much money you spend on having fun.
If you take the time to track your spending for the next couple of months you’ll have a much easier time keeping your entertaining budget in control.
17. Home Budget Category – Pets
- Animal food
- Pet insurance
- Veterinarian expenses
- Grooming as needed
- Other miscellaneous animal related costs
So I haven’t had a pet in a few years, so I must admit I don’t really have any great budgeting suggestions for pet life. Sorry! I feel like I’m failing miserably in this area.
18. Home Budget Category – Miscellaneous Costs that may apply
- Child Support
- Extra-curricular activities for kids – Dance, music, sports
- Pool care or other extra home related cost
As hard as I tried, I can guarantee that I missed at least 1-2 home budget categories, so this is my catch-all area. Your goal is to find a budgeting area that I’ve missed!
Things to consider when assessing your upcoming monthly home budget categories:
- Do you have any major events coming up that will cost extra money?
- For example, weddings can put a serious dent in your budget if you aren’t careful.
- We typically host Thanksgiving or Christmas Dinner in our home and even though everyone brings stuff to share it is still a large expense.
- Do you have any extra travel scheduled?
- Even if you have a vacation budget, did you factor in the cost of gas and travel food?
- If you are into outside recreational events have you factored in the extra costs associated with your play time?
- For example, my husband and I camp frequently. Although we have all the equipment, the extra food and gas can add up quickly.
- Do you garden or do other seasonal activities around your home?
- Every spring and fall I spend way more money then I should at home depot trying to grow my own healthy organic food. Some years I’m more successful than others.
The ultimate goal when assessing your monthly home budgeting categories is to pull out your calendar and see if you have any extra events coming up that may affect your budget. Then review your current home and transportation situations. Do you have any upcoming repairs or other items that might throw a kink in your budget?
Obviously, there are a hundred unexpected things that can throw your budget off. You can’t account for every little detail, but the more little details you can include in your household budget categories the less likely you are going to need to use your emergency fund.