When creating personal budget categories for your family, most people will start by either revisiting a previous budget they put together or by making a list of all their bills to figure out where money needs to be distributed.

Budgets that are created based solely on the past and those prior bills and the hopeful amount you want to spend on groceries, is doomed to fail!

Having a budget that works for you will not only help keep you accountable for the money you spend but ensure you don’t overspend.

If you have told your money exactly where it should be going, then you know what every single penny you make should be spent on.

There are a few common personal budget categories that most people tend to forget to put in their budget, which as the year progresses surprises them and leads to overspending and unexpected expenses.

I spoke about this topic on my Savings Segment on Fox. Watch the replay video here:




That’s why these budgeting tips for families is so important. You not only include everything you need to include, but it helps to anticipate and prepare for those surprises.

Plus, family budget planning is a great way to get the family involved in your budgeting. They know what is going on and what they can help prepare for.

And, these family finance tips will help you prepare for the entire year, not just this month. Because birthday surprises are great, but financial surprises are not!

Here are some of the most common items you may be forgetting to put in your budget so you can plan properly and be a budget rockstar.

personal budget categories

Family Celebrations

Believe it or not, birthdays are actually the most common line item missing from personal budget categories.

Whether it’s your birthday or someone else’s, chances are you will be dishing out some amount of cash for birthdays.

The funny thing with my families budget is that we think “Birthdays are recurring every year” and therefore it would automatically end up in our budget. But every single birthday I seem to be unprepared for the expense! And we have six in our immediate family so six times a year I am faced with this issue?!


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

Even if you make all of your gifts from scratch, you still need money for the materials. To save money, party supplies are one of the things I ONLY buy at the Dollar Store.

Take a look at your prior spending to help you determine what is considered “normal” for birthday spending in your household and use this as your baseline budget.

But remember, it’s not just birthdays, if you are anything like my family, then I’ll bet you also spend money on anniversaries, weddings, baby showers, etc. With a big family, it feels like there is at least one extra expense every single month!

I have a friend who has a really big family. They have 7 birthdays just in January alone! That’s why it’s important to add these into your family budget planning.

That’s one reason why I started a gift closet, not just for my family, but for other occasions too! Plus, I keep ideas stored on Pinterest for easy DIY gifts!

personal budget categories

Budget For Clothing

Unless you don’t buy a single article of clothing during the entire year, you should have this as one of your personal budget categories.

This could be as small as $10 a month, or more significant if you buy a lot of clothes (or have growing boys, like I do).

Even if you are trying to get out of debt, you should still set aside money for this expense every month.

Shoes get holes in them, pants don’t fit, and some other possible scenarios in which you will unexpectedly need new clothes. Set aside enough to cover those emergency clothing situations… obviously not keeping up with the trends.

This is one category that we use for our cash envelopes. It can be tempting to take money out of that envelope when it carries over from one month to the next. Be diligent not to pull the money out so that you have it available in case a large clothing/shoe expense pops up later.

By leaving clothing costs out of your budget, you could throw your whole budget out of whack in any of these scenarios. These family finance tips are so important to keep your budget in check.

personal budget categories

Makeup & Hair Care

Along the same lines as clothing is specialty makeup or hair care items. So you may want to add these to your personal budget categories.

Not the regular shampoo, conditioner, or styling products you use every day. I’m talking about the professional highlights for your hair, or a trip to Ulta to try the anti-aging moisturizer your sister-in-law swears by (and looks younger than when you last saw her).

Heck, just walking into Ulta, I know I’m going to spend over $100.

So if we do our due diligence and break that cost down, it amounts to budgeting $8.50 per month… if you spend more than that for the entire year, then you need to include more in your monthly budget!

Contrary to what you might believe (because I always thought this was true), budgeting does not mean you can’t spend money on those seemingly luxury items, such as highlights or specialty makeup. It’s just managing your money to know that you’ve identified how much you are going to spend beforehand, and stuck to it in the heat of the moment when you spent the money. It’s making sure you spend in the moment, what you decided you wanted to spend when you were levelheaded.

That’s why I’m so passionate about these budgeting tips for families. It’s these little surprises that sneak up that can really ruin our budget for the month or even for the year!

personal budget categories

Car Registration

Since this item is only paid once a year (or every other year), we tend to forget about it and not include it in our personal budget categories.

Then once a year a little letter in the mail shows up in our mailbox kindly reminding us that we didn’t put anything away. Fantastic.

Depending on what type of car you own, you could be dishing out a few hundred dollars for just your registration. This doesn’t even take into account the cost of your inspection either if your state requires it.

Don’t get caught off guard this coming year, set aside $7 a month. That’ll give you $80 at the end of a year. Then you’ll have that money ready when the renewal bill comes!

You could also consider including the oil change or regular maintenance for your car in this section because that is an expense that doesn’t usually happen all that regular. For example, I don’t set up a quarterly trip to the mechanic to replace my fluids and rotate my tires. But when my light goes on that I’m going to need a new oil filter and I realize it’s time for the next 10,000-mile maintenance again, which costs around $200, and there goes my budget!

You can see how family budget planning can be so important when a $40 routine cost can easily become a $200 or more budget failure!

personal budget categories

Irregular Household Maintenance

Do you have a water softener on your house? How about a filter on the water for the refrigerator, or ice cubes? Did you remember to replace the air conditioner filters this month?

These expenses always catch me off guard and then throw off our budget. So create this category in your personal budget categories.

I’ll receive a call that it’s time to replace the Reverse Osmosis filter at the kitchen sink. And $150 later, I’m so frustrated that we are gonna overspend A-GAIN this month!

Think about those irregular things you replace in your home that cost around $100 or more (12 A/C Filters at $10 each is $120 total). Those are the things that need to go in your budget so they don’t force you to overspend.

personal budget categories

Doctor Visits And Prescriptions

Most people budget for their monthly healthcare coverage (or it comes right out of your paycheck), but then they forget about the occasional doctor visits that throw a wrench in the budget. Consider this in your personal budget categories.

Even if you are perfectly healthy, you will likely visit the doctor at least once a year for an annual exam or sickness you can’t shake. Or you might need to eventually grab a pack of vitamins from the store.

If you don’t think any of these apply to you, then let me paint another scenario for you.

You have no money set aside for a doctor’s visit, and you come down with pneumonia. Not only will you need a trip to the doctor’s, but you will also need to pay for the prescription antibiotic to make yourself better!

Medicine isn’t cheap, so if you don’t have any money stashed away, this could bust your budget quick.

As a quick number, plan for the cost of one to two co-pays for each person in your family. We used to pay $40 per co-pay, so for my family of six that would amount to $480 each year ($40 x 6 people = $240 x 2 times = $480). Divide that by 12 months in a year and include it in your monthly budget. In my example, I’d need to include $40 each month in my budget for doctor’s visits. Don’t forget to also include a dollar amount for the prescriptions as well as any other medicine you take.

I take Zyrtec almost daily, a bottle of 30 liquid gels costs over $20 for that one medication alone! What about Advil? Or Midol? Yes, I absorb some of them in my grocery budget when I buy them using coupons. But an extra $20 can still bust your budget!

What if a flu-like sickness passes through your house? Extra tissues, soup, and over-the-counter meds you didn’t already have in your stockpile can really set you back around $50 – $100. And that can easily derail a budget.

Be prepared by thinking about it now and including them into your family budget planning. Then, if you have a super healthy year, you can celebrate the budget victory by using the money to get something special for the family! Score!

personal budget categories

Fun Times

Taking your family on a fun outing, going to a Mom’s Night Out with your friends, or even a special date night should be one of your personal budget categories.

I’m a true believer that even if you are on an extremely tight budget, you should always have something in this category to keep you from overspending.

These budgeting tips for families are so important to keep your family happy and healthy.


Create A Plan For Your Money

These FREE Budgeting Spreadsheets will help you keep a pulse on your money (from the palm of your hand).

I know it sounds counterproductive to spend money in order to avoid overspending… but after over-evaluating my own spending habits, I’ve found that we are much more likely to stay on budget each month, if we plan for spending a little bit on fun things.

It might not be a super extravagant outing (like going to the movie theatre that cost an arm & a leg) but planning even a little purposeful fun time each month (such as the drive-in instead) and the cost associated with it, will help you feel sane during tight times.

personal budget categories

Lunches Out

We never seem to forget to put grocery money in our budget, after all, we need to eat to survive, but eating out never seems to get a line.

Usually, eating out tends to be thrown into the grocery category or not budgeted for at all.

If you (or your husband) eats out at all, you need to create a separate line in your personal budget categories for this expense. I would not lump this in with the family “Restaurant Budget” either. This is truly a separate expense that needs to be identified Especially if you want to see where you are specifically spending money and thus have control over your finances.

Lunches your husband eats at work and spontaneous trips to the drive-thru after school (or Co-Op class) count too!

This will ensure that you always have enough money for groceries, even if you only eat out once or twice.

Make sure to be realistic with your eating out budget. If you are used to eating out multiple times each week, you can’t expect to quit cold turkey and start bringing a brown bag lunch.  Make sure you include this line item until you can wean yourself off the cost.

Here are some more lunch ideas perfect for kids and adults!

Save yourself from overspending by including this line item so you have an accurate picture of your finances.

So Whadda You Do?

I feel these budgeting tips for families is so important. You not only include everything you need to include, but it helps to anticipate and prepare for those surprises.

It’s not really that hard to figure out and stop overspending on these surprise expenses. But it is going to take a little bit of discipline.

Add up an estimated amount for those forgotten budging items (family celebrations, clothing, makeup & hair care, car items (like registration and repairs), irregular household maintenance, and health-related items) and look over a year-at-a-glance calendar to see when you’ll need to have the money to use it (or take the easy route by dividing the total by 12). 

Here’s the key: you’ve going to need to transfer that monthly amount to a separate checking account so that it’s protected from spending it.

Getting your family involved in family budget planning is also a great way to stay motivated. They know what is going on and what they can help prepare for.

And, these family finance tips will help you prepare for the entire year, not just this month. Because birthday surprises are great, but financial surprises are not!

Creating a budget with your personal budget categories can be difficult, and it may feel like you’re always forget something.

If an expense creeps up on you that you forgot, try hard to make a note of it so you aren’t caught off guard in the future.

So tell me… what item always catches your budget by surprise? (comment below)

The Items You Are Forgetting To Include In Your Budget