Master List of Budget Categories + FREE Google Budget Download – Version 2

Budgets should be free. Like fresh air, choice of religion, and water cups at the food court. – Me

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We have been using our old Google Docs spreadsheet for over a year now and slowly improved some of its features as we tweaked this and that. We also received some feedback on suggestions to improve. My husband implemented all the reader suggestions in this current revision.

Download the revised budget version here.

My husband handled the technical portion. If you look into the details of the boxes, it’s like complete math gibberish. I told him only a wacky wired weirdo would sit there and do this for “fun.” I was right by him but I was looking up photos of which kind of side swept bangs I wanted to give myself. 😛

Related: “My Husband “Bakes The Cakes” and I “Make The Steaks”

I’m not going to pretend I understand any of my husband’s coding gibberish.

Revisions to The Frugal Gene’s Budget Sheet

*Combined the separate monthly summary pages into one single page in a single selectable month. It makes things less cluttered looking.

*Split out income and expenses to separate tabs. Before they were on one page and there was a lot of scrolling back and forth on the page. Plus, when you used the search function, it searched both expenses and income which was unnecessary. Now it’s on a separate sheet for ease.

*Added accounts tracking. Previously, it was done by payment method but now it tracks balances on accounts so you can confirm that everything has been entered correctly. You can also track the balance on accounts.

*Before we didn’t have any tracking on paying off credit card and now there is tracking between transfers to demonstrate that. It tries to track account balance which is more accurate.

*Removed the starting balance and ending balance because it was terribly confusing before. Now it is simply called “Net Saves” (Green Box).

*The ability to rename months without breaking the sheet if you prefer to look at them in non-English languages such as French or Spanish.

*Introduction of “smart average” which ignores months before you started tracking or that is not yet tracked in order to give you a more accurate average of your spending than just the regular average. The regular average is simply divisible by 12 (months a year total) which isn’t accurate if you were, say only in the month of June.

Download the revised budget version here.


Sample Budget Categories

It was my gig to use it and check for any parts that would be confusing or unnecessary. After we finalized and uploaded, I realized we were missing sample budget categories. We were editing on our master sheet which was full of data and forgot that the working template itself was set to blank.

For a functioning budget, the categories of where your money will be registered going to are critical. It’s not as easy as jotting down food, transportation, rent, child care, etc. In order to jump start on a strong foot, you need accompanying categories that work for your budget.

Everyone has different urgencies for categories so I thought it might be even better without a pre-populated list. I decided to include a suggested categories post instead for more customization. There is no rule on organization but it would be good to place the higher expenses near the top and go down from there.


Master List of Basic Personal Finance Budget Categories

Housing & Shelter


Housing is easily the biggest expense in most of our budgets and for a very necessary reason. I don’t like nature that much. You can cut down on housing costs if you house hack.



*Property Taxes

*HOA Dues

*Home Maintenance

*Renter’s Insurance

*Homeowner’s Insurance

*Household Repairs


Bad car ad
Remember this ad? Haha…

If it was responsible for getting you from point A to point B then it goes under transportation. This is usually the 2nd highest budgeted category in an average American’s budget. (Although, me = El Cheapo, thinks it should never be.) A general rule of thumb….if the thing goes ‘vrooom vrooooom!!’ then it’s probably under transportation (except husbands).

*Auto Insurance

*Parking Tickets

*Car Maintenance & Repairs (Oil change etc.)


*Tires (Tire chains, etc.)

*DMV Fees & Licensing

*Airfare/Public Transit

*Things (Car deordizers, leather seats upgrades, windshield wipers.)

Food & Dining Out


If it goes in your mouth and tastes good, then it’s probably food. I’m on the fence about cigarettes and pot under groceries but it’s really a personal call.



*Beverages (Redbull, alochol, etc.) 

*Pet Food



This is the category that I personally detest the most. Depending on where you live, these little utilities and recurring bills could really eat away at the bottom line. Always pay extra attention to these!





*Sewage & Waste Management

Personal Carenail-polish-pink-apply

If it touches your body and makes you feel beautiful then it goes in personal care (except husbands). If it trims something ugly and unholy off you then it goes in personal care too.

*Children Clothing

*Adult Clothing






*Bath Goods

Medical & Health Care

May you never have to deal with most of this on the list but it’s good to come prepared with a category anyway. Always set aside some rainy day money because most of these below are EXPEN$$IVE.

*Emergency Urgent Care

*First Aid

*Survival Kits

*Health Insurance

*Primary Care

*Dental Care

*Misc. Care – (podiatrist, optometrists, etc.)


*Disability Insurance

*Medical Devices

*Pet Insurance

*Long-Term Care

Household Staples


We personally don’t separate toiletries from groceries because it’s an inconvenience but if you want to flush and curb food costs, it would be wise to take these out.

*Toiletries (Napkins, kitchen towels)

*Laundry Detergent

*Dishwasher Soap

*Cleaning Supplies (Trashcan liner, compost bags, etc.)

*Mechanic Tools

*Small Appliances


The level of spending could possibly push some of these sub-categories into areas that pertain more towards fun money depending on each specific person’s financial situation but in general, entertainment includes (at least in our case) new computers, headphones, and board games.


*Cable TV

*Home Internet



*New Computers

Fun Spending


There is no definition of free money besides the amount you allot for yourself and whatever you want to do with it. Nothing wrong with having some “extra” money to blow off steam if you can afford it. The keyword is ‘afford.’

*New Car Fund

*Goat Pellets





*Extracurricular Activities


Charity Giving

Giving doesn’t have to come with a plan, make room in your budget for spontaneous giving as well as donations, tithing, and supporting your beloved content creators.




*Holiday & Birthday Occasions


Having a family comes with a set of costs too and this category is a less commonly discus during the budget set up the process but it’s necessary to track these expenses if you have them.

*Life Insurance

*Child Care


*Senior Care

*Pet Care


I sometimes catch myself concerned with the overall education quality of public schools, especially in cities with poverty and funding issues. No one can deny that kids are indeed very expensive

*Private School

*Private Lessons


*School Supplies



*Day Care/Babysitting


Sometimes special occasions like Valentine’s Day sneaks up on you so tracking this category will give you a better idea what will eventually happen again. (Not sure if everyone knows this but Christmas and New Years happens every year. Around the same time too!)


*Holidays & Birthdays



*Special Occasions

*Christmas & New Years




*Consumer Debt

*Emergency Fund



*Everything else (identity theft protection, that time I had to buy a rope because it’s generally good to have a rope around, fridge magnets, clips for chip bags etc.)

Note: Woop! That was a lot of categories and things to consider. No wonder saving money might not come easy, look at the number of things tugging at your dollar for attention! This is more reason why everyone needs a budget so download the revised budget version here or get started going traditional with a pen and paper. They’re both good as long as you’re tracking where your money is going.


Adding More Categories

You can insert some new lines by right-clicking on the row numbers to the left and inserting a new line.

If you insert new lines on the setup page somewhere in between the first mauve row and the last mauve row, the functions that make the other pages work will find it correctly.  Note that if you insert a new line just after the last mauve row, it may look correct, but the values for it won’t update on the other sheets.

If you’re adding more lines, you may also need to insert new lines in the appropriate sections of the monthly and annual summary pages.  If the calculations don’t work for any of the new lines, you should be able to copy paste from one of the working rows in the same section without needing to make any additional changes.


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32 thoughts on “Master List of Budget Categories + FREE Google Budget Download – Version 2”

    • AHH thank you! I did miss that one. I added it to the list 🙂

      Congrats on your little girl’s graduation! A lot more to come, and they get more expensive too lol!

  • Hubby and I don’t have budget and have never had. I did a spreadsheet of our estimates monthly cost, however, to make sure we are not breaking the bank.

    Our biggest expenses are mortgage, daycare, food, and utilities (in that order). We barely buy anything if they are not necessities, so we don’t even need a category for clothing or entertainment.

    Nice budget template though!
    Ms. Frugal Asian Finance recently posted…What’s It Like Being Married To A Software Engineer?

  • That Senior Care has suddenly become very important to me as my parents are now needing some financial assistance for a few expenses. This will be included in all future tracking I do. Wish I had planned for this sooner–just in case.

    • Aw I feel you Anita 100%! My parents are visiting and they really want to move in with us in a couple of years. They need $$ assistance too. As their children, just know we’re doing the right thing for them even if it’s hard. There’s not much choice but I know I don’t ever want to be a financial burden on my kids. That’s something I can control now.

  • I like this budget template you created. This is a great to use for those that are budgeting their expenses with all the categories you created on here.
    We don’t budget ourselves but I still create a monthly income report on excel. I divide up my expenses categories just like yours but more generalized. For example, we put our household items under groceries.
    Kris recently posted…My Reading List for the Summer

  • I started tracking out expenses last year and have continued to fine tune the list. As I have done a lot of budgeting work in my day job, the more detail the better. This is a great list for me to compare to our current spending categories and add additional ones. We’ve never had parking tickets, so I can keep that one off the list! 🙂 Thanks also for including some links on how to lower costs in several of the categories.

  • Great sheet.. have you thought about adding a discretionary and non discretionary table somewhere on the expense report?

      • Im in no way a google sheet expert. Would your husband be able to help me with adding that somewhere on the sheet? It’s the formula im having issue with. I created a G column on the Expense sheet for non discretionary and discretionary. It shows up in the monthly sheet under Expense but I dont know how to create the formula to make the data show up.

  • Thank you so much for this well thought out budget! It is so clearly set up!

    How do you handle quarterly bills – such as water, sewer and trash? Do you just account for them monthly?
    What if we need to add more expense categories, how might we do that?

    Thank you again so much for this!

    • We just skip a month and use the rollover the next month so it all evens out 🙂

      How to add more categories:

      You can insert some new lines by right-clicking on the row numbers to the left and inserting a new line.

      If you insert new lines on the setup page somewhere in between the first mauve row and the last mauve row, the functions that make the other pages work will find it correctly. Note that if you insert a new line just after the last mauve row, it may look correct, but the values for it won’t update on the other sheets.

      If you’re adding more lines, you may also need to insert new lines in the appropriate sections of the monthly and annual summary pages. If the calculations don’t work for any of the new lines, you should be able to copy paste from one of the working rows in the same section without needing to make any additional changes.

  • I’ve just started using your template as the automatic calculations are much more functional than the basic spreadsheet I had set up previously. One thing missing in my opinion is a way to add or transfer money in the categories. For example we just received money for an insurance claim (a tree landed on our cars). When we pay for the repairs it will come out of our Transportation category but there doesn’t seem to be a way of putting the insurance money into the Transportation category. For now I may put it in as a negative expense so the math works out, but that is a bit of a hack. Similarly for transfers – say if I want to transfer money from a savings account into the Transportation category.

    I may try to dig into the spreadsheet equations when I have time, basically adding the Expenses category to the Income/Transfers tabs, but thought I’d add a comment for consideration in v3!

    • Hi Tina,

      Google sheets supports different formats for inputting dates based on the locale of the spreadsheet. By default, the locale is US, but people outside the US can change that in File -> Spreadsheet Settings so that it uses their local formats.

      I’m unsure the full list of sure formats in US, but I’ve tried 1-2-2019, 1/2/2019, 1-2, 1/2, January 2, and Jan 2 and all have been correctly accepted.

      Once it’s accepted, those would display as 2019-01-02. I choose that format as the default display mode for dates because it seemed the most locale-neutral format, but you can change that in the format menu if you prefer.

      What trouble are you having with the spent column? That column tries to add all the values from the Expenses page that match the category and date range if the month. I’d recommend making sure the year is correct on the Setup page, the date including year is correct in the transaction on the Expenses page, the correct month is selected on the Monthly Summary page, and the category is filled in for the transaction on the Expenses page.

      I hope that helps!

  • Hi Lily! I stumbled across your google sheets as I was looking for the best resources to start my financial journey! Thanks so much for making these resources available. I’m quite new to everything so I have some questions. Could you help answer them?

    1. Under ‘Accounts’ on the ‘Setup’ sheet, are we meant to consistently change these boxes as our balances (i.e. checking, savings, credit cards) change? Do I also file a credit card as an account?

    2. Under the ‘Transfers’ sheet, are we meant to log every move between the listed accounts? For example, if I move ($10) from checking to savings, do I list a (-$10) from the ‘source’ checking to ‘destination’ savings, and then also list a (+$10) from the ‘source’ checking to ‘destination’ savings? My thought process here is that I’m penciling in all transfers, but it feels a bit redundant…so not sure if I’m doing this correctly. I’m a bit confused on how to best use the ‘Transfers’ sheet, but really want to use it correctly since it gives us monthly and yearly data.

    I hope I’ve detailed my questions clearly…let me know if something doesn’t make sense, and thank you for your help!

    • Thanks for trying out our template!

      For your questions:
      1. On Setup, you should just enter the initial balance on the accounts as of when you start tracking your expenses using the spreadsheet and then not update them. This is only used to track your current account balance on the summary page, so if you don’t care about tracking that on this sheet you can skip it entirely. And, yes, credit cards are intended to be listed in the accounts.

      2. Transfers are intended capture the movement of money between your accounts to keep the account balance on the summary page up to date. Again, if you don’t care about tracking that on this sheet, you can skip adding them and it will still work for expense tracking and budgeting.

      You should just add a single entry per transfer. If you transfer $10 from checking to savings, you’d put one entry for $10 with the source account as checking and the destination account as savings. If you transfer $120 from checking to pay off a credit card, you’d add a single entry for $120 with source account checking and destination account that credit card.

      I personally like tracking the account balances on the sheet because I can glance at the summary while updating transactions and make sure it matches my account statement to check that I’ve entered everything correctly, and I use it as a quick reference of account balances without having to log in.

      I hope that helps! Feel free to ask more if you still have questions.

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