There are three main categories that frequently appear in digital project budgets:
Personnel costs to hire expert consulting or labor
Costs for applications, programs, or software
Of these, capital equipment is least likely to appear, but it can be a budget-ruining surprise to realize that you need to buy a computer with better processing capabilities or that a faster scanner will halve the time you spend acquiring data.
In many cases, these categories are variable and you can sometimes choose where to allocate your resources. For example, you might be able to rent access to equipment rather than purchasing it, or you might be able to pay for equipment or software that is faster and reduces the amount you spend on labor.
You should also consider the benefits of one-time versus ongoing expenses. Many software companies are turning to software-as-a-service models, where you pay for programs by the month or year, and never own the program at all. This can make your upfront costs lower but add more cost overall, especially if your project ends up taking longer than you expect. Some costs, including those for web hosting and data storage, will also continue after your project is complete.
In some cases, how you allocate your money among categories and whether you choose upfront or ongoing payment options depends on the timing and limitations of your funding. Many grants only fund certain types of expenses or expenses incurred within a certain period, so you want to look at those limitations even before you receive a grant.
These grant-specific limitations, however, can also drive your strategy. Digital humanities projects do not require digital humanities grants, and you may have better luck on early-stage projects working with other types of funding. Consider sources within an academic institution like curriculum development grants, funding to pay students to do research, or money for interdisciplinary projects. Also consider grants that are available more generally for research in your field, or for public projects if you intend to produce something for a general audience.
Finally, if you find that you need equipment or software, consider asking companies to donate products or services, especially if your project provides a public service and the company’s work will have a visible role. Of course, you should always be careful about conflicts of interest in these cases!
It is very common for digital humanities projects, especially in their earliest stages, to have no available funds at all. This should not discourage you! Each project type has specific suggestions to help you find free tools and resources, where to borrow equipment, and how you might collaborate in ways that limit personnel costs.