Taking a risk posting this half financial half productivity thread on GTD forum, but why not add sophisticated categories (like GTD does) to your expenses??
All my 10 Outflows
* = should limit
** = should avoid
So every month I can see the total number of giving expenses, giving:IRA, giving:brokerage, and giving:charity, fixed:living, fixed:living:rent, fixed:living:gas, fixed:living:electricity, fixed:living:carloand, and fixed:removeable, as well as auto, grocery, grocery:candy, grocery:smoothie, and grocery:bev, total dining as well as dining:latte, misc as well as misc:cgs, and miscrofessional, and total miscfun-adventure, total nightlife, and total supplies, meaning I can have a total of 27 different types of expenses. That's a little insane.
But this way I can check the 10 main categoroes: giving, fixed, grocery, dining, auto, miscfunadventure, misc, nightlife, computer, and supplies. And if one seems inflated I can then check sub-categories. So I only check sub-categories if something looks out of whack. If groceries looks overly-highI can check sub-categories and see "oh wow, I spent $50 on just drinks that month. That's why it was so high" or some similar kind of analysis.
One consideration is creating a category something you want to spend more in (like healthy -- sports lcothes, gps watch, etc.) but that's pretty good for now. For now all sports clothing or gu packets will go under supplies.
I use setbills (rent, utility, gym payment, pulled from my account automatically), misc (online fees), miscfun-adventure, dining, grocery, nightlife, supplies, and computer.
Giving (4 Checkable Categories) (Philanthropy and Investing)
ROTH IRA (50)
FIXED (7 Checkable Categories, 8 different monthly fixed expenses)
Removeable (gamefly, netflix, gym, lacasting)
VAR (16 Checkable Categories, 8 main categories)
Auto (Fuel & Mechanics)
*Computer (major computer device purchases, Apple)
*Dining (restaurants, order-in)
Grocery (¬dining food)
candy (All candy)
Bev (All ¬dining, smoothies, and bevs)
**Misc (online fees, credit reports)
Professional (breakdown services, online acting fees)
Miscfun-Adventure (disneyland, massages, glenwood, travel motels, pool, Adventure-Body)
disneyland (all disneyland tickets and food)
**Nightlife (Club Covers, Drinks, Taxi, Parking)
*Supplies (Household, Office, Shipping, Postage, Soap, Cleaning, Clothing, Books, Games)
why this works. I have three main categories: Giving (philanthropy and investing) which goes to three sources (charity, my brokerage, and my ira), then I've got Fixed bills. Currently I have 8 fixed monthly bills, but only 4 of those are mandatory for living (utility gas, utility electricity, rent, and car loan). Then I have 4 removeable fixed bills which means they'll pull from my account on a monthly basis, but I could remove them all any month if I wanted to. It's important to differentiate those because if you want to look towards saving money and spending less, normally you can't change the fixed bills, but some fixed bills are remove-able. The FIXED:Living are non-chanageable (you can use less electricity, but you still can't remove the electricity and gas bills) and non-removeable, but teh FIXED:Removeable can be alterred if cutting costs becomes a need.
After Giving (3), and Fixed (, expenses we get into variable expenses. These are all expenses that you can almost always pay with cash and they're the ones you actively have to do something to have them go up. If you don't buy groceries, don't have adventures, don't dine, don't order misc one-time services, don't buy fuel, don't purchase supplies, and don't purchase computer supplies, my monthly living expenses will be composed of only FIXED and Giving expenses. But you need groceries to live and other expenses.
Limit Expenses (3) & Avoid Expenses (2)
Asterixed expenses are ones that are basically a waste of money. Club drinks are over-priced and so is dining out an most misc online fees are purely impulse buying, so it's best to limit those, too. Computer expenses are healthy, but they're expensive and should be limited. Supplies are healthy expenses, too, but they aren't technically a "survival" expense, more of a luxury and create clutter, so they should be limited. That leaves 3 expenses that are most healthy and will be consumed: grocery, auto gas, and misc-fun-adventure. Auto can truly be cut as well, but grocery and misc-fun-adventure are the 2 best expesnes to put money towards of the VARIABLE expenses primary category. So really 6 of the variable can be cut without incurring health impacts (if you've got the computers, cleaning supplies, and basic gas you need) then you only really need groceries.
Clutter Expenses (2)
Supplies should be limited because they result in clutter. Everything non-edible in your house EVERYTHING is either "supply" or "computer". From the furniture to the shampoo to the toilet papper, it's all supplies, while printer, computer, and phone are "computer" expenses.
i don't know how in-deep I should go with cateogories. Where do I put those monthly subscriptions that I could cancel but won't kill me? I guess misc-fun, but they're set bills so they should go under set bills but under "removeable Fixed" bill.
Experience Expenses (5)
Then you have 5 experience expenses which are misc-fun-adventure, misc, dining, and auto. those you never feel like you get any kind of tangible thing because it's either an adventure experience like Glenwood springs or it's dining out where you ate the food, or gas that got you some place. Those 4 types of experience expenses are great to do
Almost all variable expenses should be composed of grocery expenses because that keeps you healthy and strong. Remember eating the salmon? You worked out. Eating healthy good nourishing food makes you want to work out and stay healthy, alinging your body, which then aligns your mind. Ieating crappy junk food or over-buttery stuff, just weighs you down and slwos your mind.
What categories do you use? I'm trying to refine this so I can have the most simplistic, but with the most amount of modularity in organizing expenses and ensuring there's no open loops or loose ends in teh spending component of my life.