Identify Costs


A top reason that people struggle with budgeting is simply not having a great read on all the costs they might incur. So, quickly take an inventory your costs of living and sources of spending.

The Core Costs of Living

The meals you consume each day, your commute to work or school, and the roof over your head at night compromise the costs of living that serve as the foundation of your budget.

Food & Transportation


While dependent on lifestyle, it's common to use groceries for dinner and/or breakfast and fast-casual or cafeteria food for lunch.


This daily expense is a product of your distance to school or work, and the public transit fare or cost of gas to get you there.

Dining Out

Restaurants and bars come with extra costs, like tips and cab fares, and blur the lines between needs and fun.

Drinks & Snacks

You spend more than you realize on convenience items like bottled water, gum or vending machine snacks.

Car Ownership

The biggest costs of a car come when your'e not driving - like maintenance, insurance, parking and license fees.



Rent is charged by apartment landlords and property managers, usually at the beginning of each month.

Utility Bills

Electric, gas, water and internet are the common utility bills, some of which are sometimes covered by the landlord.


After you furnish your new place, you'll need cleaning, kitchen and maintenance supplies to keep up your household.

Other Personal Expenses

Other costs that you may not incur each month include high-priority things, like health-related services, as well as spending on fun activities.

High-Priority Costs


In addition to health insurance, you might invest in your health with a gym membership or dietary supplements.

Personal Care

Basic hygiene and toiletries are costs that everyone incurs while the need for beauty products depend on the individual. 

Cell Phone

Beyond cellular communication, you may need software subscriptions, such as iCloud, for running your everyday life.

Discretionary Costs


To reflect in your budget, first determine whether trips for new clothes and shoes are out of necessity, or more of a sport.


Spending on game tickets, movies and other events like a festival is often considered the money best-spent.

Leisure Travel

If you've been a part of a vacation, bachelor(ette) party or spring break trip recently, don't forget this cost.


Some of your hobbies may include occasional rounds of golf or social get-togethers with small costs.


In addition to large purchases, like a new laptop, there's no shortage in accessories that you can spend on.


Don't let infrequent costs rock your budget

Commonly overlooked expenses, like doctor visits, occur so infrequently that we tend to assume they'll never happen. The result is using money on more stuff we don't actually need, instead of consciously accounting for the unexpected things in our budget.
So, since your health insurance won't cover all of your medical costs, it's important to make room for an occasional co-pay or out of pocket payment. Use our expense checklist to ensure that all the necessary costs are on your radar.

Costs for Unique Lifestyles

Providing for kids can double your cost of living, in addition to costs like toys and supplies.

Like kids, pets come with obvious costs like food, as well as walkers, sitters and vet bills.

Pursuing a college or masters degree carries costs beyond just tuition, like books and fees.

You may frequently travel to see family, requiring a dedicated rollover expense in your budget.

Do Personal Finance Yourself.

© 2023 by AHFA. Proudly created with

  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon
  • Grey Facebook Icon