Who hasn’t tallied up monthly bills or looked at a credit card statement and pondered if they’re spending a little too much? The average person also may wonder how their expenditures compare to other people around the country and what they need to do to enjoy financial freedom in retirement.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends just about $57,000 each year between necessities and luxuries. Canadians are spending even more than their neighbors to the south. Statistics Canada indicates that, in 2016, the average annual expenditure on goods and services per household totaled $62,183.
So how are people allocating their funds? The results may surprise you and indicate where it’s possible to trim some fat and save big bucks.
Across North America, housing is the largest line item in people’s budgets. Various sources suggest that housing and shelter needs account for anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of most household budgets. By making housing decisions based on areas with the most efficient cost of living, individuals can save considerably over the long run.
The second largest expenditure category is transportation. This accounts for the cost to finance or lease a vehicle and insure it, and it also includes urban dwellers who rely on public transportation or ride-share services to get around. Keeping transportation budgets in check can be great a way to save.
Food is the next largest expense. While everyone needs sustenance to stay alive, how that money is allocated can make a big difference in saving versus spending. The BLS says that food at home costs around $4,000 annually, while spending on dining out amounts to around $3,100, for a grand total of $7,100 each year. Statistics Canada notes that Canadian households spent an average of $8,784 in 2016 on food and that 26 percent of that spending was on dining out. Cutting back on dining out can be a great way to save money, as can becoming a more sale-conscious grocery shopper.
Healthcare, utilities and entertainment are the next most costly expenditures, respectively. But each of those items are considerably less expensive than the top three. Therefore, making changes to where one lives, how one gets around and how one eats can certainly add up to considerable savings.