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What expense categories/sub categories do you use?
Old 02-03-2013, 03:56 AM   #1
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What expense categories/sub categories do you use?

I'm rethinking my categorization which was set up when I had a very different spending profile. I've tweaked it over time, but its pretty sub-optimal. I've been hesitant to change it too much, as it makes year-on-year comparisons hard, but I think its time.



Care to share what categorization you use?
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Old 02-03-2013, 05:57 AM   #2
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I only use the categorizations used by Chase online and BoA when I download data every few weeks to have a quick look at it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jon-nyc View Post

Care to share what categorization you use?
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:33 AM   #3
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We haven't kept a budget in a couple of decades, but here's what I use in MSMoney since this how money flows through our checking account in no particular order:

1. Net wages
2. Natural gas
3. Electricity
4. Water
5. Credit card
6. Credit card
7. Child cost
8. Cash
9. Cell phone
10. Land line/ internet
11. Property tax
12. Charitable contribution
13. College tuition

As you can see most spending is in the CreditCard category, so we just note the monthly amount and if it seems in the normal range we don't delve into it.
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:48 AM   #4
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I've been tracking spending for many years, and the number of categories kept getting smaller over time. It began with at least 20, but they gradually got collapsed into ten:
Auto (all gas, service, parking, etc.)
CDE (Cash, Dining, Entertainment)
Groceries (everything bought at supermarkets)
Hobby (DW and I each have several, so this adds up)
Household (home maintenance, furnishings, etc.)
Medical
Misc (includes clothing, charity, gadgets, etc.)
Taxes
Utilities
Vacation (travel, hotels, etc.)
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:50 AM   #5
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Brau, where do you categorize insurance?
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:52 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jon-nyc View Post
I'm rethinking my categorization which was set up when I had a very different spending profile. I've tweaked it over time, but its pretty sub-optimal. I've been hesitant to change it too much, as it makes year-on-year comparisons hard, but I think its time.



Care to share what categorization you use?
Each case is different. I gathered my expenses and grouped them in excel according to what made the most sense to me.

I found this PDF to be a good bench mark.
See page 24 of JP Morgan 2012 Guide To Retirement

https://www.jpmorganfunds.com/cm/Blo...e=JP-GTR,0.pdf
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:05 AM   #7
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I recently revised mine. YMMV.

HousingMortgage
HousingHome Insurance
HousingProperty Taxes
HousingPropane
HousingFirewood
HousingElectricity
HousingMaintenance and repairs
HouseholdFood and groceries
HouseholdGardening
HouseholdSpending money
HouseholdClothing
HouseholdGifts
HouseholdDonations
TransportationMaintenance and repairs
TransportationLicense fees
TransportationGasoline
TransportationCar insurance
TransportationBoat insurance
TransportationJet-ski insurance
TransportationSnowmobile insurance
Personal and Health CareDoctors
Personal and Health CareDentists
Personal and Health CarePrescription Drugs
CommunicationsTelephone
CommunicationsMobile Phone
CommunicationsTelevision
CommunicationsInternet
CommunicationsMovies
Personal InsuranceLong Term Care Insurance
Personal InsuranceHealth Insurance
Personal InsuranceDental Insurance
Personal InsuranceUmbrella Insurance
Recreation and entertainmentTravel
Recreation and entertainmentHobbies: Sewing
Recreation and entertainmentHobbies: Skiing
Recreation and entertainmentHobbies: Snowmobiling
Recreation and entertainmentHobbies: Golfing
Recreation and entertainmentHobbies: Hockey
Recreation and entertainmentDining Out
MiscellaneousMiscellaneous
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:11 AM   #8
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I use the Yodlee defaults....added a few subcategories for Transfers to handle the "other side" of transactions.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:32 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
Brau, where do you categorize insurance?
Misc.
Since it deals with both auto and home, and the bills cover varying amounts of each, it had to go somewhere.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:39 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braumeister View Post
Misc.
Since it deals with both auto and home, and the bills cover varying amounts of each, it had to go somewhere.
Thanks.

Insurance cost (auto, home, medical, LTC) runs 11-12% of my total budget so I break it out separately. Doesn't really matter of course - whatever works.
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Old 02-03-2013, 07:44 AM   #11
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Understood. Medical insurance goes in the Medical category in my system.
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Old 02-03-2013, 08:21 AM   #12
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We have:
Food (groceries)
Food (eating out)
Household (paper products, cleaning supplies)
Home improvement (new dishwasher, replace carpet to sell, the bigger stuff)
HOA
Clothes & personal (includes toiletries, haircuts etc.)
Car insurance
General car expenses
Entertainment (cable, internet,Netflix, alcohol, misc.)
Utilities (phone, electric, gas, water)
Gifts
Computer/office
Vacations/splurges
Medical (FICA, health insurance, LTC, out of pocket)
Insurance (homeowners on house and retirement property, personal articles)
Taxes (RE, federal, Self-employment, state, city)
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:11 AM   #13
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We use:

Housing
Utilities
Groceries
Personal*
Health Care
Family Care (to help our extended family as necessary)
Transportation
Recreation
Entertainment (includes eating out)
Charity
Gifts
Misc

* includes clothing, hobbies, personal care, and pet care; will likely split "Hobbies" and "Pet Care" into separate categories in future.
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:32 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jon-nyc View Post

Care to share what categorization you use?
I have 11 main categories, most have sub-categories:

DOGS: "Food", "Regular meds & checkups", "Other"

ENTERTAINMENT: "Eating out", "Liquor", "Subscriptions & other entertainment"

FOOD: "Groceries", "Take out"

GAS, PARKING, FERRY:

GIFTS: "G'kids Education Fund", "Tax Deductible", "Other"

HSA: "Health Savings Account" (for DH)

HOUSEHOLD: "Mortgage", "Misc Household"

PERSONAL CARE & CLOTHING

UTILITIES: "Elec", "DirecTV", "Phone & Internet", "Garbage", "Cell phone"

LUMPY EXPENSES: (These are the expenses that are a set amount, but not due monthly) "Auto Ins", "License tabs", "Christmas", Property Tax, HO & Unbrella premiums, Water bill (Paid annually), Propane (paid annually)

RAINY DAY EXPENSES: (I know these will come up, but don't know when or how much) "Emergency Vet Expenses", "Healthcare OOP", "House Maintenance/Repair", "Auto Maint/Repair"
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Old 02-03-2013, 09:39 AM   #15
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I do a monthly budget on Exel. I keep it simple (not at my home computer at the moment) around ten expense categories. It used to be lots more...

Rich
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Old 02-03-2013, 10:29 AM   #16
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Does anyone track their expenses using Fidelity? If so, how do you like it?
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Old 02-03-2013, 11:57 AM   #17
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I keep permanent records of every penny I spend, and exactly what it is spent on.

Then, after the fact, I put all this in categories (keeping the original spending records too, though). This way, if I don't like my categories I can change them later.

Right now, my 11 categories are:

Income Tax (state and federal)
Medical (including insurance, prescriptions, co-pays, deductible, etc)
Clothes (includes shoes, socks, coats, and any other clothing)
Fitness (gym fees, fitness equipment)
Utilities (electricity, natural gas, water/trash/sewage, cable TV/internet, cell, landline)
House (maintenance, lawn guy, upgrades, flood and homeowners' insurance, property tax)
Car (gasoline, maintenance, insurance)
Food (grocery, restaurants)
Video Games, apps (consoles too)
Books (Kindle)
Miscellaneous (everything else - - including gifts, haircuts, electronics, hurricane evacuations, travel, etc)

I recently added the Video Games category because I decided that I finally have a hobby and I want to know what I spend on it.
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:55 PM   #18
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We're using the Mint.com categories which is a pain. We used to customize ours in Quicken, and while we love Mint bending our brains to think about it "Their way" is a challenge. You can make custom subcategories but that's it.
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Old 02-03-2013, 12:57 PM   #19
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I was just summarizing Jan expenses (good timing). I use Excel. The first page is every expense entry in 2500 rows (and budget by expense by month in rows 2501-3000). I use cascading lookup lists to define major and minor categories and fix each with a fixed or variable assignment. Makes expense entries very easy (and consistent for review).

From there I have a pivot table to show expenses, and then another showing variances by major & minor categories (with conditional formatting for gains, losses and neutral). I also have a pivot table that shows the budget by month as a reference.

And I have my accrual expenses through age 95 on the final sheet, though there is no budget during the year.
  1. Auto (BMV, Gas, Oil Change, Insurance, Maint/Repairs, Tires, Other)
  2. Business (Deposit, Expense)
  3. Charity
  4. Deposits
  5. DH (Clothes, Haircut, Other)
  6. DW (Clothes, Hair/Nails, Other)
  7. Dog (Food, Vet)
  8. Drycleaning
  9. Entertain (Dining, Internet, Parking, TV, Other)
  10. Fitness
  11. Food (Grocery, Wine/Liquor)
  12. Gifts
  13. Home (Insurance, Lawncare, Prop Tax, POA, Other)
  14. Interest
  15. Medical
  16. Misc (Office Supplies, Postage, Other)
  17. Taxes (Fed, State)
  18. Util (Gas & Elec, Phone, Sewer, Trash, Water)
  19. Vacation
  20. *Accrual (Maj Appliances, Boat, Car Purchases, Furniture, Home Remodel/Maj Maint, PC-TV-Electronics, Other, Maj Travel)
*this is reserved for major expenses that typically occur (much) less than annually - as you might imagine it varies dramatically from year to year, but I budget $10K/yr
Some are rarely or not in use at present.
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:14 PM   #20
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I use the following categories (subcategories in parentheses):

Auto (depreciation, repair/maintenance, fuel, insurance,registration and taxes, tolls)
Charity
Clothing
Computer and office supplies
Dining
Entertainment
Furnishings / durable goods
Gifts
Groceries
Home (rent, renter's insurance)
Insurance (disability, life)
Medical (health insurance, doctor, dentist, vision, medicine)
Personal care
Pets
Public transportation
Utilities (cable, electric, water, internet, telephone)
Vacation
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