Johnny and I find budgeting to be quite stifling. It’s our money, so we should get to do with it as we please, amiright? When we first started budgeting, sticking to each and every little category made us both feel downright claustrophobic.
And so we said To heck with it! and have been budget-free ever since. Well, actually, no. We didn’t do that. Rather, we modified our budget to give us more breathing room. And thus the Everything Else category was birthed. We’ve mentioned this category in our monthly budget posts, and it’s worked really well for us. We stick to our budget, but we have flexibility on how much we want to spend on different items each month.
Here’s how it works.
First, we have our fixed expenses. Those have categories of their own. We know we’ll pay rent each month, so that’s a category. We know we’ll be paying for gas, electric, phone, and TV each month, so those are subcategories within the Utilities category. And we have a few other fixed categories as well.
And then we have the Everything Else category for all of our non-fixed expenses. Right now, the following subcategories fit into this category:
- Baby Supplies (diapers, wipes, toys, cutest sundress you ever did see)
- Gifts (birthdays, well wishes)
- Medical (a copay here, a root canal there)
- Netflix (okay, so this is a fixed expense, but we still put it in Everything Else)
- Entertainment (movies, experiences)
- Gas (for the car and Vespa)
- Pet Supplies (Persie’s food, litter, toys)
- Home/Personal Care (any home purchases, or the fancy schmancy lotion or hair gel we insist on using)
- Clothing (that shirt one of us just can’t live without)
- Dry Cleaning (pretty self-explanatory)
- Personal (stuff Johnny and I buy for ourselves that don’t fit anywhere else)
- Misc. (stuff that really doesn’t fit anywhere else)
Lotsa stuff, right? So we don’t give ourselves a spending limit on any of this stuff. It’s really nice. But we do give ourselves a limit on the total for all of this stuff combined. And currently that limit is $550. Some months the majority of the money goes to Clothing. Other months, the majority goes to Home or Medical. It depends. This may seem like a small amount for all this stuff, so let me clarify a couple of categories. First, twice a year Johnny and I have a seasonal shopping budget. It’s usually right before winter and right before summer, so throughout the year we don’t spend much on clothing, except when we see a must-buy item. Also, Johnny and I have a Personal category that’s separate from the Everything else category. It gives us $25 each/month to spend on whatever we please. So that takes care of little items such as nail polish, a must-read novel, and so forth.
So that’s how we stay within budget without feeling completely smothered by budgeting. Of course, it is still our freaking budget, and we will forever have a love hate relationship with it. But this helps us love it a bit more.
How do you survive budgeting? Do you have a catch-all category like this, too?