If you’re new to budgeting, you’re probably wondering where to start. That’s easy, you should start by looking at your typical monthly expenses and create a master list of every expense. Budgeting can be overwhelming, but if you take simple steps and start with a list of your expenses, you’re much more likely to have a more comprehensive and accurate budget model. Here are the top categories that you must include in any household budget, starting with the largest costs.
This list is by far the biggest part of most people’s budget. Housing expenses include your monthly mortgage or rent, as well as the utility expenses such as gas, electric, water and sewer. Other related costs of housing include any homeowners or renters insurance, property taxes and private mortgage insurance. Monthly or annual homeowners association fees are also part of your housing expense, as well as any maintenance on your home or home improvements. Make a list of all your expenses related to where you live and that should complete the budget items for this category.
Transportation is typically the second largest budget expense for most people’s household budget. Transportation costs include any type of travel related to everyday life. For example, any car payments, drivers license fees, registration fees, bus passes or taxi rides would be part of your transportation expenses. Other budget items include any car insurance or parking fees. Plane trips are included here if they are part of your everyday life, but would fall into vacation or entertainment if they are for pleasure. And don’t forget to add the cost of your car’s maintenance, oil changes, and of course, gas.
Food is the next largest part of most household budgets. When preparing your budget, you’ll want to include any costs related to the food that you eat on a daily basis. This includes any grocery store trips and wholesale club visits, however, you’ll want to remove any non-food expenses from these bills. Other food budget items include dining out, coffee, snacks and the cost of any vegetable or fruit garden.
Entertainment can mean a lot of different things. Basically, anything that you do for pleasure that is not a required expenditure. Big ticket items in this category include such costs as boats, campers, snowmobiles and ATVs, as well as the costs that go along with them such as insurance, gas, maintenance, and any trailer costs. The day to day entertainment expenses that you’ll want to add to your budget include such things as movie theaters, dinner theaters, social events, parties at home or away, going out with your friends, trips to museums or sporting events, and anything else that you do for pleasure that isn’t a vacation. Other expenses that fit this category include your TV, satellite, cable, Netflix, or Hulu subscriptions, as well as any video game costs.
Although it can be considered an entertainment expense, vacations should be broken out separately in a household budget. Vacation expenses include the travel, lodging, dining and entertainment expenses while you are on vacation. Make sure you include all of the little expenses like gas, taxis, souvenirs, airport shuttles, and tips at hotels and restaurants.
Communication expenses also make up a substantial portion of your monthly budget. These include costs for Internet access, your home phone, and any cell phone and cell phone data charges. Also, make sure you add in the cost of your phones and even computers if you use them primarily for communicating with sites like Facebook or skype.
Holiday and Gifts
While collecting the items for your budget, don’t forget to include a monthly allowance for holiday and gift costs. Holidays include all of the extra food and entertainment expenses, as well as decorations, costumes and sweets. Gift costs include all the gifts you buy each year, for holidays, birthdays, and for all the parties you may attend.
Everything not covered above can be lumped into miscellaneous expenses. Once you’ve collected these expenses, you can break them into any budget categories that you want to include in your budget.
These are all of the typical expenses found in a budget. Notice that income is not included, but will be when you create your budget. And now that you know what type of items are found in a typical household budget, you can start collecting and tracking your expenses to get ready to create your own personal budget.
Written by Lee Trapper