Categories to Include in Your Personal Budget + Free Printable

This post may contain affiliate links. You can read my disclosure policy here.

Your personal budget is a powerful tool that can help you achieve your goals, but in order to create an effective one, you need to make sure it includes the right categories. This blog post will provide helpful tips on how to categorize your spending so that you know where every dollar is going and have more money left over at the end of the month. So let’s take a look at the different categories to include in your personal budget.

Also, be sure to grab my free printable budget category cheat sheet at the bottom of this post!

Categories to Include in Your Personal Budget @ Short on Time and Money

Budgeting is one of the most important things to do in life. It allows you to see how much you’re bringing in, how much you’re saving, and what you need to do to build a savings account for unexpected expenses. If you’re willing to sit down and go through your costs, along with the essential budget categories, you can learn more about your spending, along with how to save more and spend less.

Categories for a Personal Budget

There are specific categories to include in your personal budget. On the one hand, you’ll have the necessary budget categories. These categories are expenses that you can’t avoid. On the other hand, you’ll also have variable budget categories consisting of expenses that aren’t essential.

The Necessary Budget Categories

The necessary budget categories include anything you can’t avoid paying because it’s deemed essential. It would include:

  • Monthly Rent or Mortgage Payment
  • Utility Bills (Electricity, Water, Gas, etc.)
  • Garbage Disposal Bill 
  • Phone Bill
  • Internet Bill
  • Car Note

related: How to Save Money on Food (Without Coupons!!)

These are the categories you should include in your necessary budget. These are expenses that you know you’re going to have that will typically stay the same throughout the year.

Categories to Include in Your Personal Budget @ Short on Time and Money

Variable Budget Categories

Besides the necessary budget categories, you’re also going to have some variable budget categories. The amount of money spent on these categories tends to fluctuate and depend on different factors, such as how much you use your car or how fast you go through your groceries. The categories include:

  • Gasoline for Your Car
  • Groceries
  • Household Essentials (Toilet Paper, Shampoo, and More)
  • Clothing
  • Snacks
  • Lunches for Work

If you pack a lunch, you’ll save more money. If you ride your bike to work a few days each week, you’ll save on gas. Of course, it’s not always a feasible option, especially when it’s too cold or too hot outside. However, there are different ways to save on these variable expenses, so keep that in mind when you’re budgeting.

related: How to Start Using the Cash Envelope Method. It’s Easy!

How to Plan for Unexpected Expenses

An easy way to plan for unexpected expenses is to start saving money in advance. If you place $10 in your savings account each week, you’ll have $40 by the end of the month and $240 within six months. While you can always add more money to your savings account, starting small is a great way to motivate yourself. You don’t know when an unexpected issue will occur that will cost you money, so why not get a headstart on saving?

Are Your Expenses Unexpected or Overlooked?

Try to think about those unexpected expenses and ask yourself, “Are they truly unexpected, or are those expenses overlooked?” In many instances, these expenses are overlooked and ignored until it’s too late. For example, you may know that your vehicle will need a tuneup, but you put it off to save until you end up with more issues than you can handle. While some unexpected expenses naturally occur at inconvenient times, try to think of anything you’re possibly overlooking.

Building Your Emergency Fund

Work on building your emergency fund. You can start slowly by adding that $10 a week into your savings account. You might want to consider getting a side hustle that would allow you to make some extra cash in your spare time. You could deliver food for UberEats or sell your services on Fiverr. You might even want to have a garage sale. Use any money made from side hustles for your emergency fund because there will come a time when you need it.

What to Do When an Unexpected Expense Happens

When an unexpected expense happens, it’s normal to feel frustrated and anxious over what to do next. If you don’t have money for the expenses, the worst thing to do is to get a payday loan. The payday loan lenders are incredibly predatory and will often charge outrageous interest on small loans. Instead, see if you can borrow the money from a trusted family member or close friend. If not, you can charge the expense to your credit card, but you’ll need to work on paying it off within a reasonable time to keep your credit utilization low.

Budget Categories You Might Be Forgetting

There are some budget categories that you might be forgetting. Some of the most commonly overlooked categories include:

  • Pet Expenses
  • Car Maintenance
  • Medication Costs
  • Holiday and Birthday Gifts
  • Taxes

If you own a pet, you’ll have some expenses throughout the year. You should also set money aside to maintain your vehicle, prescription medication co-pays, taxes, and any gifts you plan on purchasing for loved ones.

What Are the 3 Main Budget Categories?

There are three main budget categories. These categories consist of needs, wants, and debt repayments.


The needs are things you can’t go without having. While needs vary from person to person, they all include shelter and utilities that you’re going to pay each month.


While your wants can wait, you should include them in your budget. Wants may consist of a visit to the hair salon, new clothes, or even a night out at a fancy restaurant.

Savings/Debt Repayment

Your budget should include a category for setting money aside in a savings account and making payments on any debt owed.

Personal Finance 50/30/20

Try to use the 50/30/20 method to succeed with setting a budget and sticking to it. You can still save money and have a good time without being too restrictive.

Percentage Breakdown of Categories

Follow this helpful percentage breakdown of categories to see how much money you should set aside for each one.

50% Essentials

Half of your income should get spent on essentials. Your essentials include the things you can’t do without, such as electricity, gas, water, and food.

30% Fun Stuff

Spend roughly 30% of your income on the fun stuff. It would include visits to restaurants with family and friends, a night out at the movies with the children, a trip to the spa for a pedicure, and other things. After all, you should get to spend some of your money on things that make you happy and put you in a great mood.

20% Important Stuff

Use the last 20% on the important stuff, such as setting money aside in your savings account and paying off debt. Make more than the minimum payment due each month to pay the debt off faster. If you can pay all your debt off, you’ll end up with more money in your pockets.

Set a personal budget that consists of different categories, including essential expenses and non-essential expenses. If you take the right approach, you can learn how to spend and save your money correctly

Free Printable Budget Categories Cheat Sheet

Free Printable Budget Category Organizer @ Short on Time and Money

How to Use

  1. Click here to get instant access to my free printable budget category organizer.
  2. Print the worksheet out and place it in your budget binder.
  3. Fill out the worksheet each time you get paid.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope it helped you understand how to make a personal budget that works for your lifestyle and goals.

Be sure to share with friends on social media or email them this article by using one of the buttons below!

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *