A Budgeter's Dilemma: How Many Categories Should I Have?

Since the dawn of time (read: YNAB’s launch in 2004), YNABers have been asking this question: “How many categories should I have?”

We know there are many impassioned and contradictory answers out there. And it isn’t that there is a wrong answer exactly; perhaps just an unnecessarily complicated one.

You probably want me to say the answer is something definitive like, 29, but it would make for a really short Whiteboard Wednesday. Also, the answer actually depends on you and what you need from your budget.

Remember, a budget isn’t just a record of your spending. It’s a tool to make your life better. Your categories are part of that process. When you have just the right amount, they’ll most effectively point you in the right direction. When in doubt, I choose simple.


If you can’t wait until next week for more whiteboard wisdom, you can view the entire library here. Also, we’d love to hear from you! If you have a question or idea you’d like us to address in a future Whiteboard Wednesday episode, email us at [email protected]

Until next time…