One of the essential ways to make sure that you are keeping your finances in check is to pay attention to where your money goes each month.
According to government statistics used by CreditLoan.com to create an infographic of spending in the United States, the average household spends $2,600 a month on goods and services.
If you multiply this out, you find that the average spending on goods and services is $31,200 per year. It’s easy to see how, for some, it’s hard to get ahead. If your take home pay is $32,000 or less, everything you spend likely goes to the business of living.
But what are Americans spending their money on? Some of the items listed on the Infographic include average monthly spending of:
- $450.16: Rent or mortgage payments
- $410.48: Health care services
- $237: Groceries
- $184.79: Financial services and insurance
- $130.83: Purchased meals and beverages
- $95.43: Clothing and footwear
How do these numbers add up with what you pay each month? In my case, I spend more in every category except health care services. Thanks to our relatively good health, and our low-premium high-deductible health care plan, we don’t spend a lot on health care services. Instead, we are able to set aside money in a Health Savings Account (HSA).
Lately, since we’ve been fairly busy, we have managed to cut back on what we spend on purchased meals, but we still spend more than the average because we like to eat out. It’s just something that we enjoy.
The infographic breaks the numbers down further, taking a look at pharmaceuticals as part of health care services, and looking at other items.
Your Spending = Your Priorities
This infographic can also provide interesting insight into the average priorities we espouse. Where you spend your money says a lot about your priorities as a family, and as a person. I found it interesting (and somewhat depressing) that the average family only spends about $1.53 on musical instruments each month, but spends $17.43 on sporting equipment and supplies, including guns and ammunition. While there is nothing wrong with these recreation activities, I think it would be nice to see a little more emphasis on things of art and beauty, like music.
Educational books account for $2.48 in spending each month, while cable and satellite services warrant average spending of $19.33 per month. That says something about our priorities when it comes to education vs. entertainment.
Take a look at your spending. Where your money goes says a lot about what you value. While the infographic doesn’t seem to show charitable donations, you can look at your own finances, and see whether you are committed to helping others. You can also get an idea of what you find important by where your money is going. Is it going toward gadgets and other consumer items? Or are you investing in yourself with education and personal development?
Now is a great time to figure out what you value, and then decide if your spending matches your professed priorities. If you find a disconnect, do what you can to begin adjusting your spending so that it matches what’s really important to you.
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.