Where in the world do Americans spend their money?

I remember the first budget I put together.  It left me feeling depressed and feeling as if I had been punched in the gut.  The practice was done largely out of necessity but there was something that jumped out at me.  Housing consumes a good portion of net income.  For most Americans this is the reality.  When we look at spending habits we realize that half of this country is living paycheck to paycheck.  A budget is a basic necessity even if you do it just once to understand where your money is flowing.  Yet most people spend money as quickly as it comes in like sand flowing through your fingers. I wanted to look at the latest spending breakdown of Americans to see where most of our money is going.

Where do Americans spend their money?

There are three major categories where Americans are spending their money: housing, food, and cars.  These three items consume the bulk of net income.  And keep in mind that with housing, more Americans are renting since housing values are once again high relative to incomes.  This makes it tough to build equity and most Americans have their net worth tied up in housing.  Food and cars also take up a healthy portion of your paycheck.

Take a look at this chart:

americans spend money

The BLS chart tries to break down categories based on how your typical American spends their money.  43% of their weighting is given to housing.  What is interesting about housing is that it is measuring the owner’s equivalent of rent (OER).  The issue with using this as a measure of home values is that it assumes all owners are renting out their homes and it doesn’t factor in the large Fed intervention on interest rates.


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