How Much Money Does the Average American Spend a Year? What the Typical Person Pays for Food, Gas and More

Ever wonder how your spending stacks up against that of the typical American? Thanks to information the government collects on consumer spending, you can. According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical U.S. household spent $60,060 in 2017 and had an average income of $73,573 before taxes.

Spending was up 4.8% from 2016, even as pretax incomes fell 1.5%. The Consumer Price Index, a commonly used measure of inflation, rose 2.1%. People were spending more across the board, with biggest increases seen in expenditures on education, housing, new vehicle purchases, and entertainment.

Take a look at the spending breakdown to see how your budget compares. 

Food

Woman paying for groceries

A woman pays for grocers at the supermarket. | GeorgeRudy/Getty Images

  • Average spending: $7,729

The average household spent about $7,700 a year on food, a 7.3% increase from 2016.

That total includes the $3,365 people spent on food purchased away from home, an average of $280 a month. For people looking to cut their spending, this is often a good area to start. Eliminating two $25 meals out a month would save you $600 a year.

Gas

  • Average spending: $1,968

Americans spend a little less than $1,968 a year on gas and motor oil. That works out to $164 a month. Spending in this category increased 3.1% in the past year, the first increase since 2012. Gas prices averaged $2.84 a gallon as of September 13, up 18 cents from $2.66 a year ago, according to AAA.

Vehicle purchases 

  • Average spending: $4,054

American spending on new and used cars increased 11.6% from 2016 to 2017 to $4,054. That follows a 9.1% decrease in spending in this category from 2015 to 2016.

Housing

  •  Average spending: $19,884

At $19,884 per year ($1,666 per month) housing is by far the biggest annual expense for most Americans. Spending in this category, which includes rent or a mortgage, along with other costs like utilities or household services, increased 5.3% from 2016. The biggest increase was for owned dwellings, at 10.3%.

Education

  • Average spending: $1,491

The biggest jump in spending from 2016 to 2017 was in the education category. The average household spent $1,491 last year, a 12.2% increase from $1,329 in 2016.

Entertainment

  • Average spending: $3,203

Entertainment spending went from an average of $243 a month in 2016 to $266 in 2017, a 10% increase. The top 20% of income earners increased their spending by $1,001 a year in this category, a 17% increase.

Clothing

clothing on rack

Clothing for sale at a store. | Sigefride/iStock/Getty Images

  •  Average spending: $1,833

Spending on apparel and related services like dry cleaning was mostly steady from year to year. People spent an average of $152.75 a month in this category.

Healthcare

  • Average spending: $4,928

The typical American household spent just under $5,000 a year on healthcare in 2017, a 6.9% increase from 2016. People in the lowest income quartile saw the biggest increase in healthcare spending, which went up by $336 a year on average, or 15.6%.

Health insurance costs (a subset of total healthcare spending) increased 8% to $3,414. The average household spent $284.50 a month in this category.

Personal care products and services

  • Average spending: $762

Spending on shampoo, makeup, toothpaste, haircuts, and other personal care items averaged $63.50 a month in 2017, a 7.8% increase from 2016.

Cash contributions

  •  Average spending: $1,873

Cash contributions, which include charitable donations and alimony payments, was one of the few categories where spending fell in 2017. People spent $208 less per year on average in this category than in 2016, a 10% decrease.

Personal insurance and pensions

  • Average spending: $6,771

The other category where spending fell was personal insurance and pensions. Outlays in this area went from $6,831 to $6,771, a drop of just under 1%.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!