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Quiz: How Does Your Family's Spending Compare to the National Average?

Updated on November 5, 2012
Quiz: How does your family's spending compare to the national average?
Quiz: How does your family's spending compare to the national average?

Compare Your Family's Spending to the National Average


One way to measure your financial situation is to compare your spending to everyone else’s spending. Considering that the average family saves less than 5% of its income, this is a case where you don’t want to be merely average. You should strive to save much more than average to meet your financial goals, which will likely include buying a nice house, sending your children to college, and having a comfortable retirement.

In this hub, you’ll compare the percentage of your net income that you spend in 10 categories with the national average percentage spending in those same categories. “Net income” is the amount of money that you (and your spouse, if married) receive after taxes. If you spend a higher percentage of your income in a particular category, that will be a flag to look closer at that aspect of your spending. The exception will be the category of “Savings and Insurance”, where you’d like to beat the average.

There may be factors that make it unavoidable to spend more than average in some categories. For example, if you live in an expensive real estate market like New York City, you’ll probably need to spend a higher percentage of your net income on “Housing” than average. In that case, try to spend less in other categories to make up the difference. For example, you could decrease your spending on “Transportation” by selling your car and then relying on NYC’s excellent public transportation system.

How does your family's spending compare to the national average?


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Your Spending Quiz Results

If you scored a 50% on this quiz, your spending closely matches the national average. You will likely achieve your financial goals, but it will take a long time and you will face plenty of worries along the way since the national average savings rate is much lower than it should be.

If your score was above 50%, congratulations! You are well on your way to achieving your financial goals. But before you break out the "Gone Fishing" sign, take another look at your quiz score. The very best savers will score a 100%! Its likely that your score, even though it was above 50%, was much less than 100%. You should concentrate on spending less in any category where you spend more than the national average percentage.

If your score was less than 50%, be careful. The savings of the average US family are woefully inadequate to achieve their financial goals, and you are in danger of doing even worse than average. Concentrate on spending less in any category where you spend more than the national average.

To summarize what the average family spends in the 10 categories included in the quiz, the following chart shows the national average spending percentage in each category. Feel free to jot down the percentage of your net income you spend on each category in the right column. Your goal should be to increase the percent of "Savings".

Category
Average % of Net Income Spent
Your % of Net Income Spent
Housing
24
?
Utilities
8
?
Food
14
?
Clothing
4
?
Medical/Health
6
?
Donations/Gifts to Charity
4
?
Entertainment and Recreation
5
?
Transportation
14
?
Personal/Debt Payments/Misc.
12
?
Savings and Insurance
9
?
Total
100
100

These national average spending percentages are from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey for an “average” family. The percentages would no doubt be different if we were to take into account the size of your family, the location in which your family lives, the income level of your family, and other factors. Thus, these percentage numbers are merely a guide for measuring spending. But again, since the savings rate for the average family is low, you should spend less than these averages, except for the “Savings" category, which you should try to crush!

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    • STEVEW13 profile image

      Steve Wright 5 years ago from Norwich, England

      Great hub, having lived in both the UK and US it is clear in both that saving anything each month is no easy task, for the average person prices are high and wages are low, one of these goes up the other doesn't... Voted up