Friday, August 25, 2006

Are You a "Weird" Spender?

The food spending comments got me thinking... what is considered a "normal," "average" amount of money to spend on various things? (Either by a gut feeling or by actual statistics.) And is there any spending area where you think you differ from what is "normal" and "average?"
For instance, I think my spending on entertainment is probably well below average. I don't have a TV so I have no cable bills. I don't spend much on books because I can sometimes get them for free. And for movies, I spent a total of $129 last year, including DVD rentals and movies seen in theaters. That is probably way less than what many people spend on Netflix alone.
What else? As one of those commenters pointed out, I have no car, which is considered pretty normal in New York City, but kind of weird everywhere else in America. That is a big expense that I don't have to worry about.
I found an article saying the average American planned to spend $2,962 on vacation travel in 2004-- I always thought my travel spending was probably higher than average, but I guess not: last year I spent $2,977-- but that was for ALL travel, including commuting, the occasional taxi, and short family visits. The vacation part of it was only about $700, not counting meals while on vacation. (In other years, I've taken more expensive vacations, but I don't think I've had a year where the total travel spending exceeded $5,000.)
Here's a few other statistics plucked out of a Google search to get you thinking (I make no claims as to their accuracy):

  • The average American spends $8,410 per year (roughly $700 per month) to own a vehicle. (source)
  • The average American spends $6,000 on healthcare premiums (source)
  • The average American spends about 5% of their income on eating out (source)
  • Americans give 15 cents per day per person in official development assistance to poor countries. The average American spends four times that on soft drinks daily. (source)
  • The average American spends $75 for each person on his or her Christmas list (source)
  • The amount of money US parents spend on Barbie dolls each year: $5.6 billion (source). If you figure there are about 20 million American girls under the age of 10 (source: US Census Data), that is an average of $280 per girl.
So chip in about what you think is a normal or average amount to spend, and tell us your strange spending habits!


Denise Mall said...

Well, I think I am way below on my car and I put on a lot of miles, so much that my value decreased by over $4k in the last 6months. My costs per year are just under $2700. But I bought used and don't have a car payment.

We don't eat out, unless we get a gift card. There are too many of us. Plus I am a big home cooking person.

I budget and stick to $40-$50 per person for Christmas, except the kids and husband. I just purchased my first $40 present for this year for under $10 on clearance. So I guess I'm off here too.

None of my girls played with Barbies - I have no idea why.

I do not send my donations overseas. I intentionally do it, to reflect charity begins at home. Especially after 9/11.

$7140 for health care premiums annually.

And finally at this time, we take NO vacations. So, I guess that sets us up as odd. I don't know many that take No vacations. We don't even take time off of work. But, we will be in better condition to afford this in another year - hopefully!

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the long ramble:
My one weird expense would be our DSL which is more than anyone else I know.
$56.16/month with Speakeasy. My husband and I are geeks and we rely on our computers alot. Its excellent service, customer support, IP number will make it one of the last things we get rid of
if we become really poor.

Although I guess I could be considered a weird saver.

I basically live on 50% of my income
(finances separate from husband), where 50% goes tuition and I live on the rest.

Like yourself, I (we) don't own a TV. We rent movies and go to the theater very rarely (maybe once a month)
Movies are watched on the computer.
We have no car, and thus no associated expenses. Philadelphia is a really small city and I can walk or bike everywhere I need to go.

Vacation - our last big one was to Mexico three years ago.

Normally we take the train to one of the E. coast cities. Often they are day trips only - thus no hotel.

Instead of soft drinks, we drink coffee and beer (at different times) and once a month some bottled fruit or veg juice.

Husband and I and all our friends are atheists. No one I know bothers with Xmas tree or gifts or anything.
Neither my husband nor I nor our friends are big on gifts.

So we spend close to $0 on that. We do give each other practical gifts: I got a video card for my birthday this year, I buy teeshirts to replace the ones that have holes in them for him.

Besides education, much of our money goes into food, either at restaurants or through the grocery store.

I do think we save quite a bit more than most people I read about.

mOOm said...

Like you I am single and don't have a TV or a car. As a result I fly to some short-haul destinations which other people would drive to. But I don't spend more than $1500 a year on such flights. I rent my apartment for only $600 a month (upstate NY). Health care costs, not counting the employer contribution to insurance are something like $100 per month. Electricity is relatively high in winter as it is the only means of heating in my apartment. My phone/DSL bill seems enormous at about $125 per month. Somehow I average about $2000 per month in expenditure. As I don't budget I'm not sure really what I'm spending it on.

Anonymous said...

My is paid off, but gas and insurance are 2600/year.
I spent 2400/year on health premiums plus another 1000 on things the health insurane doesn't cover.
I spend 25/month on eating out, we have 1 family dinner per month in a restaurant, with water to drink, and no desert. Kids are small so they share the plates with us.
I spend 1 dollar a week on soft drinks, so 52/year.
I spent 50/year on Christmas gifts for my kids, $25 toy for each kid.
The only thing I'd want to get rid of is my $1400 rent. But, to own the same place I'd be paying 3000/month in PITI, so I guess it's a good deal.

The Travelin' Man said...

OK...I'll play.

Single, no kids, work in education (ugh! you fill in the blanks!), live as inexpensively as I can.

I am way under the national average for car. Between licenses, gas, insurance, and maintenance, I spent under $3k in 2005. That number will likely increase this year with the higher gas prices, but still well under average, as I have no payments. On the other hand, I am a 35 y/o single guy driving a minivan. Hard to believe the only dates I get are with single soccer moms!

I am over the average for money spent on dining out. This year, I am right at 7% of my income, after a concerted effort to eat out less. Last year, I was at 8.7%. I am making about 15% more money this year than last, though, so I don't know that I am dining out less, or that it is just taking less of a percentage of my income.

My mortgage payment is pathetically small. $3,600 covers my mortgage payment and an extra $600 in principal. I do pay an additional $2,800/yr in condo association fees, but the place, itself, is reasonable.

My health insurance premiums are about $1,100 per year. But, get this - they changed our insurance this year, and for about the same money, I also get back $60/mo in a Healthcare Reimbursement Account, and I can use that money for any eligible medical expense - LASIK, dental, eyeglasses, prescription drug co-pays, OTC meds to treat illness, etc. This makes my net cost around $30/mo for health insurance.

I spend well less than $75/pp on Xmas gifts, and much less than what the average person spends on decorations. That seems like insane money to me - gifts I can understand, but paying money to the power company to light up your house like a airport runway is beyond me.

No Barbie overseas charity, for the most part. I think I sent some money last year to the tsunami relief fund, but that is not a recurring donation.

I think I have much more of an income problem than an outflow problem, though, even with overspending on dining out.

Tiredbuthappy said...

Wow, $75/person for Xmas gifts? No wonder my family things I'm a cheapskate. I spend $75-100 on my older sister, $100 or so on my kid, and $25/person max on everybody else. A few people get donations made in their name, and then I deduct those on my taxes. Maybe I should up the ante.

Nah. I'll just be glad I'm "a weird spender" in this way.