Expense Categories

Here’s two examples of categorizing your expenses.  Since using Quicken, I have a Main Category and Sub Categories.  So my Dining Out category has sub-categories (lunch, dinner, coffee). This helped clarify which meal time we spent the most on.  Since my husband loves coffee, we were also able to tell how much a month he was spending specifically on coffee.  The important thing when creating your categories is coming up with the order or grouping that best suits your life.  Instead of using the words “dining out”, you may prefer “eating out”.  We have a budget for purchasing books, so it’s important for us to track how much we spend on books.  You may never buy books but spend a lot on knitting, in which you really need a separate category instead of grouping it with something else.  If your categories match your life, you have a accurate picture of where your money is spent.

  • Auto – insurance, fuel, loan, service
  • Children – sports, college, education supplies, toys
  • Bank/Finance  Charges
  • Cell Phone
  • Childcare
  • Clothing – shoes, accessories, dry cleaning
  • Dining Out
  • Debt – credit card, student loan
  • Donations – church, ministries, other
  • Entertainment – camping, golf, movies, parks
  • Gifts Given – birthdays, Christmas, other
  • Groceries – food, paper products, cleaners, toiletries
  • Haircuts
  • Hobby – photography, scrap booking, knitting, gym membership
  • House – furniture, mortgage, improvements, pest control, garden, power washing
  • Life Insurance
  • Material Things – magazine subscriptions, books, music, décor
  • Medical – dentist, eye dr., yearly checkups, prescription medicine
  • Office – postage, printer supplies, computer supplies, internet svc
  • Pets – shots and food
  • Telephone – including long distance
  • Utilities – electric, gas, trash pickup, water, cable
  • Auto – insurance, fuel, service
  • Clothing/Health – shoes, accessories, dry cleaning for adults/parents, haircuts, toiletries, gym membership
  • Debt – credit card, student loan, car loan, bank and credit card finance charges
  • Donations – church, ministries, other
  • Recreation – dining out, camping, golf, movies, parks
  • Gifts Given – birthdays, Christmas, other
  • Groceries – food, paper products, cleaners
  • House – utilities (elec/gas/phone/cable/internet), furniture, décor, linens, mortgage, improvements, pest control, garden, power washing, lawn mower, repairs
  • Medical/Life – insurance, dentist, eye dr., yearly checkups, prescription medicine
  • Office/Hobby – postage, printer supplies, computer supplies, scrap booking, knitting, books, music
  • Investments/Savings
  • Education/Travel

“If a person gets his attitude toward money straight, it will straighten out almost every other area in his life.” Billy Graham


No Technology Finance Managing

A conversation with a blog visitor helped remind me that not all people track their expenses using a computer or finance program.  I’ve used Quicken for over 12 years to help manage our money.  There have been times where I briefly used the paper route way and I’ve taught how to manage finances without using technology.  It’s not worse than tracking on a computer – just different.  There are pros and cons to both systems. 

1.  To track expenses the paper way, get a notebook or accounting ledger. 

2.  Make a list of your categories/expense accounts and write each one on the top of a separate page.

3.  Every time you spend money (cash, credit, check), enter the date and amount spent under the category it reflects.  For instance, if you buy milk and bread ($8), then list on the category page “Grocery” the date you spent the money and the amount.  

4.  At the end of each month or week if you prefer, draw a line across the page and subtotal the amounts.

A 3-ring binder is also great for this because in addition to the category pages, you can add a clear zipper pouch in the back to collect all your receipts.  You can usually find in a school section of a store.

Check in tomorrow for an example of Categories.  You will see how “obsessed” (excuse me…”detailed”) I can be on dividing up expenses.  Ever buy makeup in the grocery store?  My brain refuses to let me list that expense under Groceries because my receipt says “Kroger”.    See you tomorrow!  Dana