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Having the right categories is essential to a well-functioning budget. And while it’s not always possible to anticipate every expense that may come your way, it is possible to plan for them.

Budget Categories You Don’t Want To Overlook

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Consider including these 28 categories in your budget to be prepared for anything life throws your way.

1. Birthdays

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Including a ‘birthday’ category in your budget is a good way to save for birthday gifts, parties, dinners, and any other birthday-related expenses that come up throughout the year.

Choose to save throughout the year in a birthday sinking fund or add to your budget as needed.

2. Christmas

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Christmas can be a big expense for many families, and unfortunately, even sending some into credit card debt. Saving a small amount of money each budgeting period can help offset holiday costs at the end of the year.

3. Clothing

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A clothing category can ensure you always have money set aside when you need new socks, shoes, work clothes, or even a summer wardrobe refresh.

4. Debt Payments

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As annoying as it is to give some of your income away to your debtors, your debt payments must be a priority in your budget. Try budgeting extra funds in with your minimum payments to help you pay off debt more quickly.

5. Dining Out

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Dining out can quickly bust your budget. Still, if you love going to your favorite restaurant, try incorporating it into your budget for guilt-free meals.

6. Entertainment

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Don’t overlook entertainment – plan for date nights, concerts, sporting events, and overnight trips ahead of time.

7. Food

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Groceries are likely one of your highest expenses. And while there are many ways to reduce your grocery spending, simply planning for a specific amount in your food budget is a great first step.

8. Gifts

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Planning ahead for weddings, baby showers, graduations, etc., is a great way to protect your budget.

9. Giving

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Whether you tithe regularly or have specific causes you like to support, adding a line item for ‘giving’ into your budget is a good way to give without stressing yourself out.

10. Goals

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Building your financial goals into your budget is a great way to keep you motivated and on track to reaching your goals.

11. Home Maintenance

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Nothing busts your budget like unexpected home emergencies. If you don’t currently have an emergency fund, you’ll want to add home maintenance to your budget yesterday.

12. Household

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You may already include household items in your grocery category, or you may prefer to keep a separate category for household products like toiletries, toilet paper, tissues, etc.

13. Housing

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For most, housing costs like rent or mortgage payments are their largest expense, so, of course, you’ll want to prioritize them when preparing to avoid coming up short.

14. Insurance

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Whether it be homeowners, life, disability, etc., being properly insured is important. Be sure to budget for your various insurance premiums.

15. Investing

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Are you paying yourself each month? A good way to do so is by adding an ‘investing’ category into your budget.

16. Kids’ Stuff

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Sure, we love our kids, but they sure do cost a lot! Sports fees, yearbooks, school pics, dances, music lessons, the list goes on and on.

Create a ‘kids’ stuff’ category in your budget to cover all the random kid expenses so they don’t derail you during the year.

17. Medical Expenses

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Medical expenses can be astronomical. Create a ‘medical’ sinking fund and budget a specific amount to contribute each month to offset medical bills and related expenses.

18. Miscellaneous

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Regardless of how meticulously you plan your budget, you will inevitably incur random expenses that don’t seem to fit in any particular category. Put some money aside each month for these ‘miscellaneous’ charges.

19. Personal Care

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Haircuts, beauty treatments, massages, gym memberships, or any other like services you pay for can be budgeted for in your ‘personal care’ category.

20. Personal Spending

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The best thing about budgeting is that it removes any guilt and shame from spending. There is nothing wrong with spending money on yourself – just put it in your budget!

21. Pets

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Treating our sweet furkids like family often means a long list of expenses for things like food, treats, vet bills, pet insurance, toys, grooming, and more.

Staying prepared with a ‘pet’ category can save your budget.

22. Savings

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Having money aside in savings helps you handle any emergencies and other unexpected expenses that may come your way.

Saving a small amount each budget period will help you grow your savings over time.

23. Subscriptions

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These days it seems we have multiple subscriptions. These various charges can be easily overlooked and throw a wrench in your budget.

If you find yourself often forgetting to budget for your multiple subscriptions each month, try lumping them all together in a ‘subscription’ category.

24. Transportation

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Fueling your vehicle, paying for parking, or riding public transportation…it doesn’t matter how you get there; it just matters that you budget accordingly.

25. Utilities

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Utility bills can vary substantially from month-to-month and during different times of the year. Using past bills to estimate current utility bills when budgeting is a helpful way to plan for fluctuations.

26. Vacation

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Budgeting for bills is important, yes, but so is budgeting for vacation! Plus, building vacation costs into your budget fa in advance allows you to break up the financial burden over a period of time instead of having to come up with all the cash at once.

27. Vehicle Maintenance

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A broken car may mean missing work, so don’t let a car maintenance issue create financial problems for you.

Add a ‘vehicle maintenance’ category to your budget and move the money to a sinking fund each month to prepare for any mechanical issues, accidents, or inspection costs.

28. Vehicle Payment

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Much like housing costs, vehicle payments can eat up a good chunk of your monthly budget. Be sure you’re prioritizing them before planning for less important costs in your budget.

Kristin Stones is the founder of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money – all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.

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