The numbers are here – Americans spent $61,224 on average in 2018, a slight increase from 2017. Where exactly was that money spent? The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has issued its most recent consumer spending report with the findings of spending per consumer unit.*
Where is our money going?
Of the average $78,635 income before taxes, the majority of it was spent (on average) on Housing, Transportation, Food, and Personal Insurance and Pensions.
The biggest increase in spending since 2017 was on Personal Insurance and Pensions, which saw a 7.8% increase. Next in line with increased spending was Food (2.5% increase), especially food away from home, Transportation (1.9%), Housing (1%), and Healthcare (.8%).
In fact, in each of the consumer units surveyed, spending increased in all of the major categories except for Education, which saw a 5.6% decrease.
Spending Based on Income
Income quintiles across the board saw increased average spending since 2017. The lowest and highest income quintiles (less than $21,293 / $116,625 or greater) saw the lowest amount of increase. Whereas the third income quintile ($41,490 or greater) experienced the highest average spending increase.
Households with less than $21,293 in income: saw 1.5% increase in spending
$21,293 or greater: 1.7% increase
$41,490 or greater: 2.5% increase
$70,367 or greater: 2.3% increase
$116,625 or greater: 1.5% increase
Spending Based on Household Group
The BLS report shows that all households surveyed spent anywhere from 30.2% to 36.5% of their total spending on housing, the largest expenditure. This includes married couples, married couples with children, married couples with others living with them that might not be children, one parent with at least one child living at home under 18 years old, and single persons.
Spending on food and apparel services was similar among households. Food spending was anywhere from 12.4% to 14.1% and Apparel spending ranged from 2.7% to 3.9% of total spending.
Where the biggest discrepancies come in is with healthcare spending. The household group who spent the least amount of their income on healthcare was the single parent group with at least one child under the age of 18 – specifically 5.7% of their spending. Married couples reported spending the highest amount out of any group on healthcare – 10.2% of their spending.
Here’s a specific breakdown by category of where consumer units spent their money in 2018:
At home $4,464 / Away from home $3,459
Rented $4,249 / Owned $6,678
Healthcare: $4,968 – Of this amount, health insurance costs made up more than 68%, totaling $3,405.
Personal care products: $768
Cash contributions: $1,888
Pensions and Personal Insurance: $7,296
All other expenditures: $2,030
You can view the entire BLS Consumer Spending Report here.
*Consumer units include families, single persons living alone or sharing a household with others but who are financially independent, or two or more persons living together who share major expenses.
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