Average Consumer Spending in the US

I stumbled on this image detailing how the average US consumer spends their paycheck based on a survey done by the Department of Labor. (click to enlarge)

consumer spending

consumer spending

There were a few areas here that I found interesting such as reading, cash contributions, entertainment and food.

The reading section is pretty minimal but its actually larger than I would expect. With the amount of materials readily available for free online or at the library, and the amount of book swap programs out there, I wouldn’t expect anyone to spend any money on books anymore. I know I don’t. But I guess some people are old fashioned 😉

The cash contributions section to me seems a bit low. I donate 10% of my income every year but I guess on an average, some people may donate nothing and lower the average number.

The entertainment section looks pretty generous to me. Our family probably spends at most a fraction of that a year (maybe $500), and that is if that includes traveling. We don’t go out to the movies and haven’t for several years as the cost is just ridiculous and most of the things we do for fun are cheap or free.

Now the food section on the other hand is something we splurge a bit more on but to get the amount shown here, one would spend about $500 a month on food (dining out and home cooking) and we definitely don’t spend that much.

Overall, this was pretty interesting to see. Mint.com offers something similar based on all the people that use Mint.com, one can see where the average spending is for local broadening out to nation wide in all sorts of categories. Wesabe.com also offers something similar. Anyway, this makes me feel pretty good about our spending habits 😉

Where on the chart do you sit? Do you spend more or less in the  different areas shown on the chart?

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4 People have left comments on this post

» AshleyNo Gravatar said: { Aug 17, 2009 - 12:08:48 }

Neat chart! I probably spend less on food and housing and more on entertainment and personal care. I wish transportation didn’t eat such a large chunk of my spending and have considered using my local rail services more often. However, I still make a lot of road trips and would still end up spending about the same on maintenance for my car.

» Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar said: { Aug 17, 2009 - 04:08:37 }

Way to go for spending less in any areas! Its a great feeling being below average on spending.

I agree that transport costs are high and I have also considered using the new rail system that was built where I live but the inconvenience it causes outweighs the cost.

My car is still fairly new (bought in 2005 brand new, I wasn’t so money smart at the time) so I have little maintenance costs and my mileage is really good, it wouldn’t make sense for me to pay to take the rail.

» JuliaNo Gravatar said: { Feb 2, 2010 - 06:02:22 }

This is a great chart! Thank you!

I’m surprised that the education costs are so low. Between school costs, college and re-education for career changes, I expected the average to be much higher.

Thank you for sharing this.

.-= Julia´s last blog ..Are You Ready for the Next Mortgage Crisis 2010? =-.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks Julia 🙂 I’m glad you liked the chart. From the format they put this out in, I’m assuming they have done this in past years and I look forward to seeing changes in next years chart. I agree that some of the costs on the chart seemed a bit askew but it’s still interesting to see 🙂

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