Budgeting Guide

I believe that personal finance should be a required course in high school and college. I didn’t learn how to properly budget until I was out of college with my first post-undergrad job. Even now I’m still learning and it would have been great to get a better head start on this topic that everyone will use in their lives. Hopefully, it can enable them to have a close eye into their spending and not feel like they have no idea where it went when looking back.

Budget Categories

It is important to have general categories to keep track of where your money is going, but don’t have too many or it can lose it’s value. I use the following:

Bills + Utilities

  • Rent
  • Church Tithing
  • Subway Fee
  • Power
  • Cell Phone
  • Laundry
  • Internet + TV
  • Hulu/Netflix
  • Cloud Storage

Food + Dining

  • Groceries
  • Restaurants

Gifts + Donations

  • Gifts for family/friends

Health + Fitness

  • Doctor
  • Medicine
  • Gym


  • Personal Care
  • Books
  • Entertainment
  • Etc


  • Discretionary items or events
Tools + Timing

I’m a power user of Mint as a budgeting tool. It aggregates your spending and helps you categorize and tag your transactions in order to analyze your spending. I try to review it every morning so that it doesn’t pile up and you forget what each purchase was for. I also have separate bank accounts for each category mentioned in the module above and make sure it matches with Mint and that there is enough money in the account. Finally, Google Sheets is helpful in tracking overall spending goals, cash flow and miscellaneous notes. Then my wife looks does a weekly analysis of the budget to see how we are doing.