23 Budget Categories You Might Have Forgotten About
You aren’t likely to forget your rent or mortgage when it comes to budgeting, but there are plenty of other expense categories that are easy to overlook.
To make sure you’re covered, start with your basic budget categories and then scan this expanded list of 23 home budget categories that many people forget.
1. Seasonal utilities
Think about seasonal averages to make sure you’re budgeting enough for your utilities throughout the year. Summer and winter months might cost more if you use your heating and cooling systems more aggressively.
2. Annual maintenance costs
If you own your own home, start by factoring in predictable, annual maintenance costs. This can include things like landscaping, filters for your heating & cooling system, filling your pool, gutter cleaning, and snow plowing services. Think about every season to make sure you’re covered.
3. Unusual maintenance costs
Then, consider budgeting 1% of your home value each year to cover unexpected maintenance costs like replacing an appliance. Save even more if you expect to replace a big-ticket item in the next couple of years, such as your roof or HVAC unit.
Insurance and medical costs
4. Insurance premiums
Unless your budget categories treat insurance as its own “bucket,” it’s easy to forget about car insurance under your transportation costs or dental insurance under your health budget. Life insurance is also easy to overlook, especially if your premium is only due quarterly or semi-annually.
If you pay some premiums over longer periods of time, include a monthly allotment in your budget to cover that cost when it comes due.
Finally, remember to account for your health insurance deductible. For instance, if your annual deductible is $4,800, set aside $400 each month to cover future medical bills.
Hopefully, you won’t need that full deductible every year. If you end up with something left over, use it toward building up enough savings to go into each new year with your entire deductible covered, just in case you end up needing it early on.
6. Car loan payments
Even if your car is already paid for, consider including a car payment in your budget. By including future payments in your budget today, you’ll have a sizeable down payment saved up when the time comes—getting better loan terms and saving you a lot of money on interest.
7. Gas expenses
Do you commute to work or school? Do you spend more on gas during certain times of the year? Be sure to estimate the money you’ll need for gas in an average month. If gas prices start creeping up, remember to adjust this budget category to compensate.
8. Car maintenance
It’s common to forget ongoing vehicle maintenance when creating your monthly budget. This includes oil changes as well as more significant maintenance like replacing your brake pads and tires when you need to. If you drive an older car, consider adding more to your monthly budget to cover potential issues.
9. Public transportation
Do you ever use public transportation? What about taxis, Ubers, or rideshare services? Even if you don’t use these often, be sure to include them. Uber rides can build up fast if you forget to add them to your monthly budget.
Groceries tend to be a large category, so most people include them in a basic budget. But you might not realize how much other food budget categories can add up in an average month. Be sure to include enough to cover your takeout, fast food, and impulse buys like a cup of coffee or a quick snack while you’re out running errands.
11. Personal care
Things like soap and shampoo usually end up in the grocery budget, but don’t forget the cost of getting your hair cut, exercise classes, or the occasional spa day. Take a few minutes to think about the things you do to take care of yourself, especially things you don’t do every month.
Clothing budgets vary a lot from person to person, but even if you shop at discount and thrift stores, there’s still a cost to those purchases. Be sure to include enough to take care of the things you need.
13. Fun & Travel
Recreation and travel are especially important when it comes to budgeting. They only happen occasionally, but they can cost a lot when they do. The best way to approach this is to budget a smaller amount each month so you have that money when you need it.
This includes hobbies, classes, kids’ activities, entertainment, and vacations. Think about these expenses on both a monthly and annual basis in order to plan ahead.
It’s easy to accumulate subscription services, and most people pay far more for them than they realize. So, when you’re adding subscriptions to your monthly budget, don’t rely on memory. It’s too easy to forget about those $5 monthly charges.
Instead, go through your past bank statements to get a complete list. Look for (and think about) things like:
- Function of Beauty
- Amazon Prime
- Apple Store charges
Total up every subscription service to create an accurate budget. It’s also a perfect time to cancel any subscriptions you forgot about that you don’t need!
Savings and debt
15. Extra payments to pay down debt
Your budget probably includes your regular debt payments already, but if you’re carrying a credit card balance or any high-interest loans, consider including something extra in your budget each month to pay them down faster.
16. Retirement plan contributions
Review your retirement plan annually and consult with your employer’s human resources department or with a personal financial advisor to make sure your long-term savings are on track—and that you’re taking maximum advantage of any work benefits.
17. Emergency fund contributions
It’s a good idea to build up enough savings to cover 3–6 months of expenses in case of emergencies. If you forgot about your savings, and your emergency fund isn’t already in place, now is a great time to start. Consider putting something toward that savings goal each month.
18. Other savings goals
Think about other short-term savings goals that you might want to break down into manageable milestones. Things like weddings, vacations, adoptions, renovation projects, and other large expenditures are easier to handle if you plan for them, saving your emergency fund for genuine emergencies.
19. College savings fund contributions
If you’ve recently had a baby or are about to start a family, open a college savings fund as early as possible and build it into your monthly budget. That way, you can make small contributions to those savings each month, with plenty of time to work on it, instead of racing to catch up later.
20. Gifts throughout the year
Map out your year in terms of holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other gift-giving occasions. Budget a set amount for those events, and divide your total by 12 to determine how much you need to save each month.
21. Charitable giving
If you make any charitable contributions, be sure to include them in your budget whether you donate weekly, monthly or annually.
22. Tax payments
If you get a regular paycheck from your employer, tax payments are usually “set-it-and-forget-it” items. Your taxes are deducted from each paycheck automatically.
However, if you own a small business or just started your own side gig, remember to set aside a portion of your budget to cover your federal and state income taxes.
Also, if you’re earning more this year than last year, or if you have more taxable investment transactions such as capital gains from the sale of stocks, make sure you budget for those taxes accordingly before tax season rolls around.
23. Professional services
If you use professional services such as tax preparers, financial advisors, or other advisors, be sure to include those expenses in your budget too.
Automate the Process for Lasting Success
Creating a comprehensive budget takes time and reflection. If you’re too busy to create or maintain a traditional budget, consider using Simplifi to manage your expenses the easy way. It automatically categorizes your spending and tracks it all for you—without a traditional budget.
Enjoy your first
30 days free!
Then, pay as low as $2.99 per month.
No additional fees. No ads.Start my free trial