How do I create a one-time category for one month?

Hi everyone.

Is there a way to have an item show up on the monthly budget sheet only once? For example: a one-time purchase that is planned, yet I want it to show up on my monthly budget sheet. In my case, a water heater replacement. I can put the amount in the “Home Improvement” category (or a similar category) but would really like it to show by itself so I don’t have to dig through transactions to remember what the high cost was for. But I DON’T want it to show on every other month with a $0 budget.

tl;dr: is there a way to have specific months in the Monthly Budget sheet have unique categories?

Thanks in advance!


That’s actually a very excellent question. What is the best way to handle big one-off’s category/budet-wise-speaking? I have several this year and would love a better way to manage them than just throwing them into a regular category - cat surgery in February is making my pets budget look weird.


How about just setting a category called “One-Time Purchases”? Add a note in your category cell if you want to remember from a high-level view on what that was for.

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Love this idea! You can also add a Note column directly to the Transactions sheet (I usually insert left of the Account column to avoid it inheriting the format of some other non-text column). You can grab the column header letter and then drag to a new position if needed.

How I handle that is to have my regular category for Home Repair, and a second category of Home Repair: Special Projects. We usually only have one, or maybe two, larger purchases or projects with multiple purchases, per year. So if I have to go back and look then I would know that we got new siding in January 2019 and gutters in March 2019, so that’s what the category was used for in those months. This eliminates the need to create and archive categories. I do just leave it showing all year since I look back every month at my monthly totals as well as annual budget.

(You could have a generic Special Purchases category, but for me they are always home repair or home improvement projects. For other items, I just throw them into the most appropriate category even if it bumps it up an unusual amount for the month.)

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Lots of good ideas here.

@purplebudget : If you add a note to the category cell in the Month Budget sheet, the position of that note could change if you add or remove Categories. If you were adding the note in the Categories sheet, that would work fine. Or you could add a Notes column to the Categories sheet as @heather suggested.

If you want to view a list of all your “One-Time Purchases”, you could use this formula on a new sheet:

=FILTER(Transactions!A:F,Transactions!C:C="One-Time Purchases")

This assumes you want to view Transaction columns A thru F and your Categories are listed in column C of your Transactions sheet. You might want to be this formula in the 2nd row so you could add row headers to the top row.

A version of this formula could also be done using QUERY().
I use “Extraordinary Expenses” instead of “One-Time Purchases” for my unusual big expenses.

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I do not do budgets so I would not know how that section is affected. I would get creative with the categories tab. Maybe create a group called extraordinary expenses and then create a category called water heater replacement, cat surgery, etc. Then make a pdf of the invoice, bill, paperwork, etc. and attach it to the receipt column on the transactions tab. Sort the transactions page by group if you ever want to see in the future all the transactions that hit this group.

Thanks for the ideas…similar questions. Thinking out loud here:

I wonder if there is another way to look at this, from the other side–savings transfer. Think about how we use credit cards: we have category line items, but the payment itself is just a transfer that we typically hide from reports. Ideally, large projects are similar, and the line item is “Monthly Savings Deposit” so that when a large item comes up, you’re really just doing a transfer, so there’s no need to track it as a separate expense, because then you are double-counting, like if you had lines for expenses and then the CC payment. Maybe it’s better to just keep a separate spreadsheet to keep track of special items, projects, expenses, like house, travel, etc. with names and dates for later reference.

This is really a philosophical question. At what point along the continuum between monthly bills I put on CC and buying a house, i.e., the difference between monthly, 3x/yr, 6x/yr, once every 2 years? Regardless of whether you pay cash from checking account or pay for them one time on CC for a house project or vacation, then mark those items in special sheet. Either way, they’re not really a separate “budget” item–they were absorbed into your savings budget. To me, budgets are a regularity of monthly or bi-monthly. Again, just another perspective.

Welcome @theorydude :wave: ! Thanks for sharing your perspective here :slight_smile:

I’m trying to set up a “one-time expense” (Bathroom renovation) special category as is being discussed in this discussion. The money is already set aside, I just want to easily track it as the project is happening and also be able to summarize it for tax purposes. Additionally, it would be great to add a secondary column that I can use to note any rebates for including in my tax returns… can I add two columns to the same affect?

Question: I don’t see the “Account” column in the Categories sheet that you mention. Is it possible I’m looking at a different “Categories” sheet?

Thank you for any additional insight!

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@jeffmontague, I meant to say “Transactions sheet” there isn’t an account column in Categories. Good catch :wink:

You might want to check out the Savings Budget and Savings sheet for one time expense and savings. Not sure if it’s helpful in your scenario. Otherwise you can just customize the Categories list to include the category and only add budget amounts to the one month you need a budget for it.

Another option for this kind of expense is using @Brad.warren’s new Category Schedule and adding that renovation into an existing Category “baseline”. From there, the sheet will create a new Tag you could use to track expenses. Good luck, @jeffmontague.