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12 monthly expenses to include in your budget.

Creating and maintaining a budget may seem unnecessary, or like a lot of work, but knowing where you spend your money is essential for managing your finances – especially these days when the cost of living remains high. And budgets don’t have to be complicated tools! A simple spreadsheet listing your expenses by category and amount, with some basic addition, for example, will do just fine.

Here are 12 categories of expenses to consider when creating a monthly budget.



  • Include rent or mortgage payments, property taxes and home or renter’s insurance.

Whether you own your home or pay rent, the cost of housing is likely your biggest monthly expense. So it’s important to budget for housing-related expenses and to have strategies for managing housing costs, such as choosing an affordable neighbourhood.



  • Include hydro, water, gas and other heating/cooling expenses.

Don’t forget that you can lower your monthly bills by following some basic tips to conserve energy, like sealing your home with proper weatherstripping.


Food and groceries

  • Include groceries, eating out and meal-delivery services.

When planning your meals and shopping for groceries, consider recipes that will make enough for several meals. Leftovers you can freeze are especially handy and cut down on preparation time!



  • Include car payments, insurance, fuel, maintenance and public transportation fares.

Always carpool, take public transit, bike or walk whenever you can. The savings will add up over time, and you’ll be helping the environment too.



  • Include healthcare costs that may not be (or not entirely) covered by the government or your insurance, such as dental care, prescription medications and medical supplies.

Many employers now offer flexible health insurance plans, allowing you to choose where you spend your coverage and/or purchase additional coverage if needed. Be sure to take advantage of these options if they’re available.


Childcare and education

  • Include childcare, school tuition, extracurricular activities and educational supplies.

Explore options for reducing costs via government programs such as subsidized daycares and Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs).


Personal care and wellness

  • Include personal care products, haircuts, gym memberships and wellness activities.

Prioritizing self-care while staying within your budget is the goal here. Try to balance wellness activities that cost money, such as gym memberships and yoga classes, with others that are low-cost or free, such as walking or running in a park or meditating at home.


Debt repayment

  • Include monthly payments for credit cards, loans and other debts.

It’s important to know how much you can spend on credit while continuing to make your monthly payments affordably. By setting aside an amount for debt repayment in your budget, you’ll have a strategy for paying down your debts efficiently.


Entertainment and leisure

  • Include expenses related to entertainment, such as movie tickets, streaming services, subscriptions and recreational activities.

Yes, you need to have fun too! Putting leisure activities in your budget helps ensure you can relax and enjoy yourself, safe in the knowledge you’re not overspending.



  • When possible, include contributions to savings accounts, retirement accounts and emergency funds.

Put a little something aside whenever you can. One good strategy is to set up automatic contributions to a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), for example.


Household maintenance

  • Include expenses for household cleaning supplies and repairs.

When items go on sale, take advantage of the savings by grabbing an extra one if you can!



  • Include any additional expenses that may vary from month-to-month, such as gifts, donations or unexpected costs.

It’s a good idea to budget an amount for miscellaneous expenses, including known items that don’t fit into any of the previous categories, plus a bit more to cover those little surprises life throws at you.

What a budget can do for you

Once you’ve listed your monthly expenses and created a budget, it’s important to follow it and update it as needed. You’ll be putting yourself in a better financial position for the long term, since using a budget can help you:

  • Ensure you don’t run short of funds

  • Cut unnecessary expenses

  • Save more for your future

And now, a tip: Using credit for common expenses is a smart way to build your credit. Use a credit card to pay for what you need, be sure to stay within your limit and make your payments on time, and you’ll be laying the foundation for a solid credit rating with every purchase. Capital One is here to help!

* If Quick Check pre-approves a card, you can be 100% sure we’ll approve your application as long as:

a. There’s been no change in your credit file information, personal information or financial status from the time you receive your Quick Check results to the time you apply for one of our credit cards;

b. You’re at least the age of majority in the province or territory you live in;

c. Your application isn’t flagged for fraud prevention;

d. You don’t have an existing Capital One account; and

e. You haven’t applied for a Capital One account in the last 30 days or had an account with us that was not in good standing in the last year. In good standing means not past due, over limit, fraudulent, restricted, or part of a consumer credit counselling program or bankruptcy.

In some cases, we may not be able to open an account for you even though your application was approved. This can happen if we’re unable to verify your identity, or you don’t provide the required security funds if you’re approved for a Secured Mastercard®.