How To Decide What Categories You Want For Your Budget
Being the budget maker means that you are in control of your budget including how many budget categories you decide to use every month.
I counted how many budget categories we have in our monthly budget and came up with 34.
Honestly, I thought there would be more than what there actually is.
When I designed our budget years ago the thought never crossed our mind to only have a few budget categories.
I have seen many budgets out there that might only cover common fixed expenses and everything else is bundled into one or two other budget categories.
That type of budget would never work for our family.
Since we are so picky about the fine detail and wanting to know exactly where our money is going every month I thought we did reasonably well with as many budget categories that we created.
I’ve also seen some budgets that have so many categories that I wonder if we’re doing enough.
We are our own worst critics when it comes to our finances however it’s all about finding what works for you.
I received a short email from a fan who wanted to ask us about our budget categories.
I hope it’s ok to email you but I wanted to ask you a question about your free budget spreadsheet.
I’ve downloaded it because I want to start paying back my student loans and credit card debt so I can focus on saving to buy my first house.
I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw all the budget categories that you have and was wondering if I have to use them all and if not why do you have so many?
Thanks for any insight,
Budget categories paint a detailed picture
That’s a great question and it’s one I’ve had the liberty to chat about with another fan a few years back when she was creating her family budget.
First of all, take deep breathes because everything is going to be fine because you have taken the first step in becoming debt-free, control of your money.
Budgets can seem scary at first especially if you’ve never used one before but you will make mistakes and you will also learn from them.
The more you use your budget the better your financial picture will seem to you.
No, you do not have to use every category that I have listed in the free budget spreadsheet that you are using.
Budget categories are there to paint a detailed picture showing the user just how much money was spent in a particular budget category.
When we decided to incorporate the projected expenses into our budget it was essential that we had all of our budget categories picked apart so we could manage them.
You are free to use whichever categories pertain to you. You are also welcome to change the names of the budget categories depending on which of the 2 budget spreadsheets you download. Both have detailed information that go along with them that will help you to decide which budget is best for you.
When we created our budget our aim was to break our expenses down to the nitty-gritty because we were serious about paying off our mortgage in under 5 years which meant we wanted to know where the money was going.
By breaking down the budget with so many budget categories it helps us to target certain expenses that might get buried in a generic category or a budget that has limited categories to use.
Since our grocery expenses were so high we decided a few years back to remove everything from the grocery budget category except for food.
Our cleaning supplies and health and beauty fall under another budget category because we really didn’t go crazy spending money on these kinds of things.
Even today we hardly buy anything of the sort since we did the extreme couponing back in 2011-2012 and got so many free cleaning supplies and tonnes of laundry soap, fabric softener, shampoo, gel, hairspray, toothpaste and so on.
I’ll admit that once in a while we may pick something up that is a great deal with or without a coupon but for the most part, we are still using up our stash.
Now that our grocery budget incorporates only food items it helps us to see where we can make improvements.
It was the food we were buying too much of with and without coupons.
We hardly use coupons these days unless there is something that matches an item we are buying.
However, we do better with 50% off stickers and coupon apps which give us a certain amount back for purchases without having to carry coupons.
If you’re lucky you can use both to score an even better deal.
When it comes to the budget don’t let it push you away from doing what works for you.
If you don’t care about knowing how much you spend on parking every month than combine that with another category.
You will have more comfort in knowing as much information as you want to know and less of what you don’t want to know.
We do have a miscellaneous category for everything else we don’t have listed although every year we check to see if there is another budget category we should add to track that expense.
Sometimes you don’t think of one right away but over the course of a year, you realize you spend quite a bit on something and want to track it.
This is how our budgeting categories are born.
I hope that helps a bit and if you need any further help please email me and I’ll be glad to hear what you have to say and help you out the best I can with your budget and budget categories.
How many budget categories do you have and why?
Where our money went
Where did all our money go in September?
This month was nothing other than ordinary.
A good chunk went in City Taxes as it normally does at certain periods throughout the year.
The rest of the expenses were just living costs. I’ve already started back at my second job so time is tight.
I haven’t got paid from my second job yet either so you won’t really see any difference to the numbers yet.
Any spare time has been used packing up the outside spaces at home, like garden furniture and clearing up plant material that has started to turn and fall off.
I try to store as much of the outside furniture indoors over the winter period which is why it still looks brand new after almost 5 years of use.
This also helps to save money because we aren’t having to buy stuff again because it becomes weathered.
That’s all for now and although it seems like life is boring right now we do manage to slip in family time which is very important to us.
How was your budget month? Please leave a comment.
All about our free budget
I’m currently offering 2 versions of our budget and the reason behind it is simple. Firstly, read the CBB blog disclaimer because what you do with it is your own business so if you mess it up you need to sort that out.
I have not closed off any cells so you can make all the changes you like to the budget to reflect your lifestyle which is what you asked me for in your emails. (See I do listen and read your comments and emails)
Although I would love to help every single fan with their budget I am unable to do so but I am always willing to answer any emails you send me so don’t be shy.
This was after all meant to be our personal budget and although I would love to customize it for every fan that wants to use it but, I’m afraid I cannot.
I’m not selling this budget or hope to make any money from it so enjoy this free budget and I hope that it works for you as much as it does for us.
Our free budget spreadsheet
You can download the free budget spreadsheets here.
- Budget 1– You can use the pre-existing categories or you can use your own if you wish and you have the option to use projected expenses or not. Please read all the notes left around the budget for tips.
- Budget 2-Everything is pre-set so you have to use the pre-defined categories but this budget will generate year-end budget figures where the other one won’t but you must use the categories already in this budget. If you change anything you will mess up the formulas and year-end figures. Please read all the notes left around the budget for tips.
I’m always open to feedback but be polite as you don’t want to hurt my feelings Test it out for a month and see how it goes.
There is never any harm in trying something new.
Our family budget plan
How we budget our monthly expenses?
CBB fans want to know what we do in order to save so much money and the reply I give is simple>> It’s not about the money it’s about the process involved.
We are both money managers of our finances and with our relationship compatibility, we have been able to get to where we are in 2015, debt-free.
It doesn’t matter if you are using a cash-only budget or you use your debit and credit cards, if your budget doesn’t balance you have budget issues you should review it pronto.
Learning how to be your own money manager is important because no one else will care about your money more than YOU!.
We don’t always save as much money as we would like every month but most importantly we are not going into debt but only because we are budgeting our money.
In fact, we are currently debt-free including the mortgage which means all we pay for is our monthly bills and expenses.
One of the most important things we did for our personal finances was that we never let the budget deter us from reaching our goals.
Sure we’ve had crap months but we’ve made up for it or we learned from our mistakes just like we should.
Budget failure only occurs when you give up on your budget which should not happen as long as you truly want to reach your goals.
We didn’t always earn the income we do today but made do with what we were earning so we didn’t go into debt.
That my friends are called “living below your means”. The only science to becoming rich!
Sometimes fans email and ask me if living on a budget in Canada is any different from living and budgeting in other countries.
To be honest I’m going to say, probably not.
If I still lived in the UK I could use this exact budget spreadsheet to meet all of my needs however the budget needs to be reviewed monthly.
Below are links to the budgeting series which I wrote while designing our excel budget spreadsheet which will give you an idea just how we designed our budget.
I’m not a financial planner/advisor so I can’t tell you how you should budget but I can show you how we budget our numbers.
I’m just a regular guy just like everyone else; some might call me a budget or numbers nerd.
Learn how to budget: 10-Step Budgeting Series
Do you want to learn to budget as we do?
We explain everything we do and more in this mini-series below all about budgeting.
Please take the time to read through our budgeting series plus read Budgeting in the New Year.
I hope the information will help stop you from making common budgeting mistakes that I hear of often and that you take something away from the information and apply it to your financial situation.
If you have any questions about what we do with our money tracker ie: The budget then feel free to email me.
I may expand more on the topics as we go along and add some mini-series in 2015 detailing how we budget to break it down even further for you.
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 1– Gathering All the information
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 2– Budget Categories
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 3– Tracking Receipts
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 4- Note-taking
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 5– 5S Organization
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 6– Who Does What and When?
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 7– Balancing Our Budget
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 8– Knowing our Coupon Savings
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 9– Reading Our Bills
- How We Designed Our Budget Step 10– Projected Expenses
Budget Percentages September
Our savings of 32.2% include savings and investments and emergency savings for this month.
The monthly totals come to 100% which shows that we spent our income this month and used the rest as emergency savings.
The other categories were well within the defined percentage limits.
Our projected expenses this month is at 24.26%.
Budget Percentages Month By Month
This is simply a breakdown of our expenses which has helped us to understand where all of our money goes.
As of May 2014 we have been mortgage-free so much of our money will be directed at savings, investments, and renovations.
I appreciate that you enjoy this budget update each month but I do hope you view this as an educational tool rather than comparing your own financial numbers as our situations are all unique.
Although I encourage your comments and love to hear what you have to say about our budget categories and expenses please don’t tell us to donate our money to charities because we have too much or are fortunate.
We are hardly out of the clear with finances for the rest of our lives and have worked and sacrificed to get where we are.
We do plan to enjoy the money we’ve saved now since we haven’t over the years with our son.
What we do with our “extra cash” is our business and although we do donate to a charity we won’t be putting it on display for the world to see as it defeats the purpose in my eyes. It is part of the budget as you see it.
I hope that clears that up for those of you who had concerns about our extra money.
Almost 7 years ago I started working in Canada making a bit over minimum wage and have since moved up the ladder.
I’m now working very hard to secure my dream job with one foot in the door.
We aren’t all lucky but if you do the best you can at least you can look back and say you gave it a shot.
Sometimes we wish we had more money to budget with but understand that we only have what we earn and if we want more, we need to earn more.
Spending less than we earn and budgeting our money has been the easiest way for us to pay down debt and save money.
- Chequing– This is the bank account where all of our debt gets paid from.
- Emergency Savings Account– This is a high-interest savings account.
- Regular Savings Account– This is a savings account that holds our projected expenses.
- Monthly Budgeted Total: $4,916.82
- Monthly Net Income Total: $7,281.58
- (Check out our Ultimate Grocery Guide to see where our grocery money goes)
- Projected Expenses: These are expenses we know we will pay for throughout the year = $1,766.35
- Total Expenses Actually Paid Out: $4310.72
- Total Expenses Actually Paid Out: Calculated is $7,281.58 (total net monthly income) – $1,766.35 (projected expenses) – $1204.51 (emergency savings) = $4,310.72
- Actual Cash Savings going into Emergency Savings: Calculated is $7,281.58 (total monthly net income) – $4,310.72 (actual expenses paid out for the month) – $1,766.35 (projected expenses) = $1204.51
What are Projected Expenses? – We project expenses throughout the year so we have the money saved.
PE= A projected expense is money automatically saved each month so it is ready when the bill comes in or when you need it as in the example below.
We review our projected expenses at the beginning of the year to set up our yearly budget and adjust as we go along if a new projected expense arises and needs to be added to the budget.
Sometimes we remove a projected expense as well so it’s very important to keep an eye on your expenses.
This has happened on many occasions but it’s bound to happen as we can’t predict everything we have to pay for over the course of the year.
The important part for us is that we are saving for these expenses and we no longer have to stress about withdrawing money from our savings to pay for them.
To learn more about projected expenses read Step 10 in my budgeting series.
When we spend the money in a projected expense category we move that money to our chequing account in order to pay for that incoming expense.
So this means the numbers go up and down in the projected expenses account based on what we need to pay for that we saved for in the account over time.
The only thing you need to do is track your projected expenses each month manually as I can’t customize that for you in the excel budget spreadsheet as I don’t know what you will use for projected expenses.
For now, we will have to manually track which means month after month we add up what we save in each projected expense category and minus what we spend so we know how much we have and what is left in each category.
I have updated our personal excel budget spreadsheet for 2015.
We pay money into the projected expenses account continually throughout the year even when bills come due as its revolving so as one bill gets paid the money continues to come in from the other categories all year-long.
This ensures that money is always available. It may not always be enough but having something ready is better than having nothing at all and having to use credit.
So the $1766.35 gets paid into the projected expense account every month no matter what.
It seems to be easier to track our money this way but you can do what works best for you.
Projected Expenses Example
If our clothing category was a projected expense we have a budget of $50 per month for the two of us.
If we spend $30 on clothes for the month that means we need to pull $30 from the projected expenses account to pay for this expense or we move only $20 to projected expenses for the month and leave the $30 in your chequing account.
It’s up to you how you do it as I mentioned above. I’m hoping to put together a projected expenses spreadsheet to track the expenses all year-long otherwise you need to do that to make sure you don’t overspend what you haven’t saved or will save over the course of the year.
It’s a fairly easy process and becomes a lifestyle change for your finances but the most important part is that the money is available and saved, which means potentially less stress.
This means we should have $600.00 per year for clothing to spend. We have to track that expense as we spend it manually but hopefully, for our 2015 budget I can incorporate that into our spreadsheet so it tallies the numbers up as we go along.
That way we will be able to know exactly what we’ve spent as an ongoing total.
(Note: I am working on this but slowly as I wasn’t anticipating all the extra hours with my second job)
Our Actual Family Budget
Time for the juicy category numbers and to see how we made out with our monthly budget. Below you will see two tables, one is our monthly budget and the other is our actual budget for the month of August 2015.
This budget represents 2 adults and a baby plus all of our investments.
If it is highlighted in blue that means it is a projected expense of ours. You will also see our budget does not include the emergency savings as this is factored in at the end.
Budget for September 2015
Actual budget expenses for September 2015
September 2015 Goals Reviewed
- Finish sanding and stain our son’s kitchen table and chairs- FAIL however, I do plan to get this done.
- Finish our sons free rocking horse (handle missing so I’m making one)- Fail however I do plan to get this done.
- Reach 4600 Twitter Followers- FAIL So close…
- Reach 6660 Facebook Followers- FAIL So close…
- Reach 2240 Pinterest Followers- PASS Huge jump for me with over 2.3K
- Reach 3100 Followers The Free Recipe Depot Facebook-FAIL I haven’t put much effort into this page lately but I’m working on it.
- Reach 175 Followers Bloglovin- PASS!
- Finish the budget projected expenses- FAIL R u kidding me. This may end up being a year-end budget remodel for me. I’ll keep trying.
- Help a new blogger with a task or question- I helped a few bloggers this month.
- Connect with a new blogger- I’ve connected with 4 new bloggers this month.
- Finish the master bathroom shower- FAIL I just don’t have the time right now but I will get it done once all the small stuff I have planned is out of the way.
- Pick out new tiles for bathroom and accessories (mirror, towel bar holder, etc.)- We started to look online at different colours and designs we were interested in.
- Buy a new blind for the garage- FAIL I almost thought I found one at the Re-store but it was just a bit too big.
- Finish the walls in the baby room- FAIL No, this may have to be put on hold until closer to the time he actually uses his room.
- Start looking at kitchen designs- PASS We have looked online at kitchen designs. We are considering hiring a kitchen planner but I need to do more research.
- Start looking at pricing for a new insulated garage door- FAIL I’m too scared to find out. I’m joking. It will cost us a good chunk of money but it will be worth it.
- Sell baby stuff we don’t need- PASS We sold a few things this month. 2 Hockey Jerseys, socks and a ride-on toy.
- Buy a pressure washer- FAIL I’m still waiting for it to go on sale.
- Prepare for Fall Clean-up- PASS This has started as I take a few hours on my day off to get a bit done every week.
- Think about Halloween Costume- PASS We have a Happy Tiger in the house just waiting to go out for Halloween. We’ve bought 4 boxes of chocolate bars to give out to the kids and decor for the front of the house. We also purchased 2 pumpkins this past week but that falls under our October budget.
October 2015 Goals
- Finish sanding and stain our son’s kitchen table and chairs-
- Finish our sons free rocking horse (handle missing so I’m making one)-
- Reach 4600 Twitter Followers-
- Reach 6660 Facebook Followers-
- Reach 2400 Pinterest Followers-
- Reach 3100 Followers The Free Recipe Depot Facebook-
- Reach 178 Followers Bloglovin-
- Finish the budget projected expenses-
- Help a new blogger with a task or question-
- Connect with a new blogger-
- Finish the master bathroom shower-
- Pick out new tiles for bathroom and accessories (mirror, towel bar holder, etc.)-
- Buy a new blind for the garage-
- Finish the walls in the baby room-
- Start looking at kitchen designs-
- Start looking at pricing for a new insulated garage door-
- Buy a pressure washer-
- Finish Fall Clean-up-
- Sort through our son’s clothes and sell some-
- Start thinking about our Christmas expenses-
- Research Kitchen designers in our area-
- Create a new recipe-
Budget updates month by month
In case you missed our budget updates and want to do a quick search I’ve compiled them all on one handy page: monthly budgets.
For the 2015 Year I will also keep track of each month just below.
I will start the list off with our end of year budget update from 2014 just in case you missed it.
- December 2014- Our Budget Year In Review
- January 2015
- February 2015
- March 2015
- April 2015
- May 2015
- June 2015
- July 2015
- August 2015
That’s all for this month’s check back at the beginning of November 2015 to see how we made out with our October 2015 budget!
Happy Budgeting CBB’ers!
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