Day 1: Define your buckets

This is part of our 31 day series to creating a first home budget. Download a Home budget worksheet or edit your own copy via google drive.

Let’s not waste time right now on why you need a budget (puts you in control of your money, lets you see exactly where your money runs off to every month, etc. etc.). Instead, let’s assume you want to make a budget but aren’t sure where to begin or don’t want to spend money making it. To get your juices flowing, I’ve published our family budget to give you an example of what works for us later in this post.

Ready, Set, Go

To get started, print this Home budget worksheet.pdf or open this editable version via google drive (instructions to make your own copy embedded in cell A1).

You could also open an excel spreadsheet or a trusty notebook.  Or, use a simple program like Dave Ramsey’s Lite Budget. Your first buckets for money will be something like:

  • Saving
  • Housing (rent, mortgage payment)
  • Utilities (electricity, water, gas, phone, etc.)
  • Food (groceries and restaurants)
  • Transportation (car payment, fuel, maintenance)
  • Clothing
  • Medical/Health
  • Personal (blow money, beauty)
  • Recreation (internet/cable, subscriptions, memberships, childcare, etc)
  • Debts (car, student, credit cards, etc)

You can get as specific as you want.

Our Budget

Here’s a list of our family’s buckets and in what accounts we keep our money:

  Rent (drafted automatically the 1st of the month)
  Water/Sewer 4th
  Cell 11th
  Electricity 11th
  Internet 15th
  Education Savings Accounts 22nddetails in Day 15
  Roth IRAs 22nd – details in Day 14
  Car Fuel – details in Day 2
  emergency fund 1 – details in Day 12
  New House fund 1
  Family blow money – details in Day 19
  Adult blow money – details in Day 19
  Cosmetics/hair care
  Gifts/postage – details in Day 8 
Health Savings Account (HSA)/emergency fund 2 details in Day 16
SAVINGS ACCOUNT (items below)
  Vacation fund – details in Day 10 
  Car repairs/tires – details in Day 11
  Boys’ activities – details in Day 11
  Disability insurance (Feb) – details in Day 13
  CPA (Mar)
  2013 taxes (Apr)
  Car license/taxes (Apr/Oct) 
  Identity insurance (Jul) – details in Day 13
  Personal articles insurance (Nov) – details in Day 13
  Car insurance (Nov) – details in Day 13
  Life insurance (Dec/Mar) – details in Day 13
  Christmas (Dec) details in Day 9
  Emergency Fund 3  – details in Day 12
  New House Fund 2
  Moving Fund
  child 1 Savings details in Day 17 
  child 2 Savings – details in Day 17 


I’m sure you’ve got a lot of questions… why three Emergency Funds? What is blow money?  Where are these different Accounts? Why are two months listed for car/licenses and life insurance?   How could one family possibly have so many different types of insurance? (Believe me, we question its necessity and expense all the time). Stay tuned, friends. We’ll unpack our thinking behind this list soon and so much more. 

Until then, get started on a list of your buckets and write down any monthly amounts for each category as well (easy one: rent/mortgage payment-should be a set figure every month). We’ll get into how to make a good estimate for each of these amounts in later posts.

When you’re ready to move on to Day 2: Gather your spending history , click here.

I’m curious, what budget categories do you have that I don’t?

2 thoughts on “Day 1: Define your buckets

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