Thanks for taking part in the last survey. I’ve received encouraging responses from you. The initial result shows that one in every two income-earning adults tracks their spending. Most of these people have a budget plan.

One of the emails I received today caught my attention and inspired this post. She told me that a budget planner doesn’t work for her. She can plan the budget at the beginning of the month but when approaching the end, she will be totally out of the budget.

And when I studied her budget plan compared to the actual spending, I spotted something strange.

“Other” is normally something not budgeted

She has spent quite a big chunk on “other” category in her budget. In May, she sponsored RM2,357 on her mother’s trip to China. In April, she replaced her broken laptop. Back in February, she spent RM1120 to replace all her tyres that the tread is almost worn off.

And all these expenses are categorized as “other”!

This is the solution: No more “other” spending (or keep it at minimum at least)

The simple solution that I suggested is – you should have a budget planned for all these expenses. Your mother’s trip should be included in your parent’s allowance. If you pay RM500 a month to her, set extra RM200 aside for her annual vacation. You should have a big purchase saving category budgeted to cater for your spending on gadgets or other big purchase. Car tyres replacement should be included in car maintenance (RM1120/24 months, assuming that you change tyres every two years).

If you have a budget planner, what goes into “other” category?

Tell us more about it in the comment section below.

Note: I will be discussing more details about budgeting in my new book. Just in case you are not informed about it, I am going to launch the book as a collaborative project. You will be able to read the book before the manuscript goes to my publisher. Your name may even appear in the book. Stay tuned!


Personal finance author and trainer

    9 replies to "What goes into “Other” category in your budget?"

    • zackady

      Good Day…
      In my budgeting plan, I put “others” as my unplan expenses. Pls advice me if there’s suitable percentage to control the “others”. Sometimes my “others” flows higher than expected. thank you.

    • Ong Yi

      That’s exactly how I do for my budget planning and is perfectly work for me so far.

    • Matthew

      I agree that items like holidays for parents, vehicle maintenance, insurance premiums, car insurance should be saved and budgeted ahead. It can be difficult to track monthly savings for an annual payment. I put them all in a seperate account with an excel to track and ensure it reconcile. You can also put it in an FD or some investment which you can liquify within the period to gain some minor interests.

      I hever have a other category because sometimes I think it defeats the purpose of budget/expense tracking. Coming up with budget category is quite a challenge. Too little and you can see where your money is, too many and it gets too complicated. I try to have categories for all budget and expenses. I usually have categories which you spend a lot of money on, even if conventionally that’s not the norm. Eg. I play a lot of badmintion and do sometimes spend money on re-stringing, broken rackets, new shoes etc. Hence, I have a badminton budget. I also have a budget for books and magazines, cause I spend some amount of them every month.

      There are however, unplanned incidences, like a tyre replacements, minor car accidents, last minute dinner treats for in laws, passport fees etc. I usually put aside about 10% of my income as a “Other unplanned items” budget. Most of the time, there are surplus from this pot, which I then keep it as a seperate savings pot for a big ‘just in case’ spend in the future. After a year, if there’s still surplus. It goes into permanent savings.

      KC: Just wanted you to know I follow your articles closely, but only now I’ve give some of my inputs. I hope to see hear your input as well… 😀

      • KCLau

        Hi Matthew,

        You manage your finances well and systematically. Thanks for your feedback here.

      • Sayeed

        Hey Matthew;
        Exact same experience here…I wonder when was the last time i have had “other” category ever since i started planning the last 5 years.
        Well even sickness and accidents are insured. By the way, no harm 3-5% allocated monthly on emergency funds as “other” if may appear is justified with these.
        Well annually these 3-5% can be very helpful to do some other things…pay yourself back!!

      • suraj

        Nice tips there on creating an emergency savings pot. I do budget and track my expenses. However, I wasn’t able to be prepared for unplanned/emergency spending. Plan to create one for next months budget.

    • Lai Seng Choy

      In my budget, I give provision in my “Other” category. It is provided on monthly basis to meet unexpected “needs”. As for the amount to be provided, it needs years of track record. When come to the real time cash flow management, this amount is provided and deducted from my personal balance sheet. That is, this provision is always there unless I use it.

      In short, provision will minimize the risk of sudden unexpected expenditure. Try it.

    • Chels

      I have a budget planner, all for one ultimate purpose, which is to plan for Savings.

      Remember, Income – Savings= money for spend. If your unplanned spending is not budgeted at the first place, you may have to take out cash from Savings to pay for it.
      As long as you pay back yourself(your savings) after “borrowing” it, it doesn’t matter how much you spend on “Others” category.

      Your spending budget may consist of Food, Phone, Loan, Rental etc. Fixed expenditure like monthly loan repayment, and rental may not be compromised/adjusted. But categories like Food, Entertainment, Hobby & etc(whatever you can compromised or adjust), you can squeeze out some $$ from each category, which would mean eat more simple, less entertainment, and less luxury for that particular month(s), until you finished paying up what you owe your savings.

      Bottom line is, as long as your Savings is not compromised. You must pay back yourself!(your savings!). If you can’t find any way to afford to pay back, it means you have spent beyond your means, or affordability. This is another issue to address.

      Just my 2 cents 🙂

    • Carmen

      Plan before spend is a very good way to control one expenses and also tracking on one’s expenses. Catogorise your expenses and put aside of maybe 20%-30% of the salary as a saving will be great.

      However, there is one thing that i notice from many bad behavior of some working adult had made… they use to spend tru credit card which make their cash flow out of control… I have a very close friend who loves shopping and branded items. Even though she did “FORCE” herself to commit into a unit trust monthly saving plan that cost 30% of her salary, but every months she spent more that 30% thru credit card… and i think that is an unhealthy way to spend the money thru creadit card if one loses control in spending.

      What i have categorised into “other” in spending will be unnecessary items (that are not a MUST-to-buy items) e.g. clothes, accessories etc. If that months i spend less in my “other” category, then i will save it for a bigger gift for myself later on.

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