How I use YNAB Budget Categories

Some people were curious so I thought I’d post how I use my YNAB budget categories. I got my idea on how to do this after reading Elizabeth Warren’s All Your Worth where she recommends sorting everything into three categories: Must Haves (I call this category “Needs”), Wants, and Savings.

I’ve found it to be a really great and easy way to organize YNAB into categories. This way I can look at my Needs category and I can see for sure how much money I need to have each month just to meet basic expenses.

Also – it you bring up the reporting view you can quickly see if you are close to the 50% Needs/Must Haves, 30% Wants, and 20% Savings that she recommends.

I’m currently at 53% Needs, 24% Wants, and 23% Savings.

So here goes: (it’s not alphabetized)

  1. Needs
  • Mortgage
  • Pre-School [Child's name]
  • Pre-School [Child’s Name)
  • Auto – Gas
  • Auto – Registration
  • Insurance – Auto
  • Insurance – Homeowner’s
  • Insurance – Floaters
  • Insurance – Life
  • Insurance – Health (This is actually not on my budget as my wife gets us health care through her job – but since we’re planning on having her stay home with the next kid that won’t be the case in the future.)
  • Gas
  • Electricity and Garbage (Billed every 2 months)
  • Union Dues
  • Water (Billed every 2 months)
  • Taxes – Tax Prep
  • Taxes – Property
  • Home Repair
  • Fee/Oopsy (atm withdrawal fees – AmEx annual fee)
  • Health Ins. Copay
  • Auto – Repairs
  • Auto Insurance Deductable

2. Wants

  • FOOD n FUN CASH – Again, going by the method in Elizabeth Warren’s All Your Worth, this is where I make my weekly withdrawls for all of our living expenses – Groceries, Restaurants, Clothing, etc…
  • Cell Phone
  • Gardener – this is probably on the chopping block once we go single income
  • Maidservice – ditto
  • Audible, Tivo, Redbox (I love Audible! – might have to give it up for a while and just use the library though)
  • Tax Deductable Memberships / Donations
  • Political Donation
  • Subscriptions
  • Internet
  • Weightwatchers – Very much like YNAB in fact. I’ve lost 60+ pounds with it but I’m a little stagnant right now. Need to get back on the horse!
  • YMCA Membership
  • Vacation
  • Birthdays
  • Christmas
  • Kid’s Activities
  • Hope Improvement
  • Babysitter

3 – Savings

  • Mortgage Repayment – Whole point of this site right here!
  • Emergency Fund – It’s fully funded with 6 months of expenses but I’ll probably keep adding to it.
  • Debt Repayment – No more debt – but it’s still here for now. I’ll probably “hide” it soon.
  • SEP-IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • 529 Kid #1
  • 529 Kid #2
  • New Car

4 – Taxes – Warren’s method doesn’t have a 4th section but I wanted to break it out of the Needs section because if I’m not working then I wouldn’t need to save for estimated tax payments. This way I can quickly look at my 1st category and see how much I really need each month to get by. The wants can be severely paired down – needs cannot.

  • Taxes – Federal
  • Taxes -State

I hope this gives you some ideas!

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