YNAB Category Examples From Our Personal Budget!

These YNAB category examples are designed to help you decide what categories are suitable for your budget.

I remember when I first started YNAB, I stared at the screen for over an hour trying to decide which categories should be included in our budget.

Is my health and beauty too vague?

Is the Walt Disney World tickets category too niche?

In this post, I’ll share with you our own personal budget YNAB category examples so you can begin to work out which categories are right for your budget.

These YNAB budget categories were developed over a period of around six months.

You’re unlikely to remember every budget category when first setting up YNAB so try and roll with the punches, change and adapt your budget as you grow and begin using this fantastic budgeting tool.

YNAB Category Group Examples

Category groups are designed to hold smaller categories within them.

These groups can be expanded and contracted to allow you to see more or less of your budget as you require.

To add a new category group simply click the category group button just below the month header.

If you’re starting from scratch you may find that YNAB has already set some category groups up for you.

You can change them or delete them depending on whether or not they are relevant to your budget.

All budget category groups in YNAB have to be added manually, the only category group that is created automatically is the ‘credit card’ group which is created if you add a credit card to your YNAB accounts.

In our personal budget we use the following category groups;

  • Bills
  • House
  • Car
  • Finance & Banking
  • Personal
  • Health & Beauty
  • Annual Subscriptions
  • Travel

These category groups have between 2 and 10 categories inside of them. An while we have played around with more groups and fewer groups, we’ve found that these groups work really well for us.

YNAB Category Examples

Now you know our YNAB category groups I’m going to discuss the categories we use inside each of them.

Again, I don’t expect your YNAB categories will be the exact same as mine.

However, it should work as a rough guide and provide you with some ideas for other categories you might want to consider in your YNAB budget

Bills

This category group is always at the top of YNAB. It’s my fixed expenses, the bills that are necessities to my ‘four walls’ as Dave Ramsey would say.

  • Car Tax – currently paid monthly
  • Council Tax
  • Gas & Electric
  • Car Insurance – currently paid monthly
  • Mobile Phone Bill
  • iCloud – for extra iPhone storage
  • House Insurance – paid monthly
  • Netflix – Maybe not quite the necessity, but you know…
  • Gym
  • Water

Water is the only item from this list which is not paid monthly. I’m currently on a water metre so we get bills pretty much as and when the water company decide to send them.

However, I chose to put water inside of bills to ensure I made a conscious effort to top-up the funds to be prepared for when the bill (amount unknown) hits.

House

The house we currently live in is a ‘doer-upper’. As a result, this category group has been a constant source of struggles.

We’re constantly trying to determine what budget categories are included to assist us further in reporting so we can see what we spent on the house and when within the YNAB application.

Right now, this category group includes the following categories;

  • Home Improvement – If it stays with the house when we sell it, then it goes into this category.
  • Furnishings – If it furnishes the house but will come with us when we sell the house it goes in this category.
  • Cleaning Supplies

If you’re in the middle of ‘doing up’ a house then consider setting multiple categories within your budget for different projects so you can set saving goals for each.

This is what we had to do when we were in the thick of our renovation to ensure we had enough funds for the projects that we’re currently ongoing.

However, once we were finished with these categories we transferred them into the main home improvement category and added any specific details about what was purchased in the memo field.

Again, we found this quickly and easily helped us improve our reporting features so we could see the total amount we’d spent on the house.

Car

As you may have noticed some of our car expenses are in the ‘bills’ category group.

These are direct debits we have set up relating to the car, sadly we’re paying our car tax and car insurance monthly so they are a set monthly expense and fit nicely there.

However, despite this our car category group is still relatively extensive. It includes;

  • Parking
  • Petrol
  • Maintenance
  • Car Tax – SF 2021
  • Car Insurance – SF 2021
  • Breakdown – SF 2021

Parking and petrol are as you might expect. Meanwhile, the maintenance category is a category we have set as YNAB Goal.

The maintenance category includes the cars service, MOT, any repairs and getting the car cleaned. It’s one of the hardest categories for us to budget as you can never truly predict how much these things will cost.

Then, we have three sinking fund categories within the car budget category group. These are to hopefully allow us to pay for these expenses in full when they are next due.

If you would like to move from paying for car expenses monthly to paying for them annually to save money then this is the best way I’ve found to achieve this.

If you’re already paying for your car expenses annually then you won’t need the car expenses in the bills and instead will only need the sinking funds within the car category group.

Finance & Banking

Personally, this was the category group I forgot about totally. Yet, it’s one that I find most of us need for various reasons.

My finance and banking YNAB category examples include the following;

  • Emergency Fund
  • Banking Fees
  • YNAB

I could put YNAB in the annual subscriptions that I have further down, it’s an either-or kind of situation.

Personal

Probably the most miscellaneous category I have is the personal category.

It contains pretty much everything that doesn’t fit anywhere else and is… well, personal!

My YNAB category examples for the personal category group are;

  • Events – i.e. Weddings, Hen Dos etc.
  • Gifts – This includes Christmas, birthdays etc.
  • Groceries
  • Drinks – I spend a lot on drinks, even from the store, so I like to track it separately
  • Mittens – our cat!
  • Competitions – Sometimes I’ll buy a specific service or product just to try and win a prize!
  • Entertainment – Trips to the cinema, date nights etc.
  • Clothing
  • Eating out – On anything else that isn’t date night.

This category is no doubt going to be the most different as it will depend on your lifestyle, personal interests, and family dynamic.

Health & Beauty

I don’t have much beauty, and being in the UK we don’t have much healthcare to worry about so I’ve combined the two and they work really well together.

You might want to consider splitting them depending on the number of categories you have inside each of the category groups.

My health and beauty YNAB category examples are;

  • Baby – We’re currently saving for IUI / IVF treatment, even after this I suspect this category will just morph into other baby items.
  • Dentist
  • Glasses
  • General – Anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere i.e. toothbrush, toothpaste, make-up, hairspray etc.

Again, your categories included under health and beauty are probably going to be very different to mine depending on your family dynamic, priorities and regular purchases.

Annual Subscriptions

This is, as you may have guessed, everything you pay annually for.

I’m not going to share my annual subscription YNAB category examples because I don’t think you’ll need too much of a prompt to think about the different subscriptions you have.

An once again, everyone’s annual subscriptions are different depending on what you require and what interests you.

I set YNAB Goals for each of my annual subscriptions to ensure I save some money towards the subscriptions every month.

So, when that big annual amount comes around I have enough money saved to pay for it without worrying.

Travel

My final category group is travel, and it’s the last on the list because, in my opinion, it’s the least important.

Travel is something I tend to buy when everything else is paid for when my four walls, personal hygiene and basic life is sorted.

I’ve played around with this category a lot because despite it being something I only buy once everything else is paid for, it’s something I buy and do a lot!

Here are my YNAB category examples for the travel category group;

  • General
  • Passports
  • Travel Insurance

Again, the last two are sinking funds.

Right now, I don’t have any trips planned. Sadly, I’ve just had to cancel one actually.

However, when I am planning a trip, I’ll create a new category for inside the travel category group and save money specifically towards that trip.

Once it’s paid for and finished, I’ll move the transactions to general rather than hide the category because hidden categories don’t work well in reporting (I hope that’s something YNAB will work on soon)

That way, I can see in the reporting tab how much I tend to spend on travel a year – it’s a lot!

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