What Are the Expenses for an Average Family?


Quick Answer

The average American family spends roughly 90 percent of its annual income on housing, transportation, food and other items. More than 60 percent of families own their homes, and the average home has 2.5 residents.

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Full Answer

American families spend 34 percent of their income on housing, 17 percent on food, 12 percent on transportation, 10 percent on insurance and pensions, 7 percent on medical care and the remaining 20 percent on other items.

Housing expenses include rent or mortgage, basic utilities, public services, cleaning supplies, equipment and furnishings. Transportation includes car payments, auto insurance, fuel and public transportation. Food costs include both groceries and dining out. Insurance and pensions include life and health insurance and savings for the future.

Families spend 5 percent on entertainment, 4 percent on apparel, 4 percent on cash contributions, just under 4 percent on miscellaneous items, 2 percent on education and 1 percent for personal items including tobacco and alcohol.

The above figures don't include tax payments or high-interest credit-card loans. The average family has credit-card debt of more than 10 percent of its annual income.

Spending varies by ethnicity. The Consumer Expenditure Survey measures how consumers allocate their spending among the various components of total expenditures. Hispanic consumer units allocated more money to transportation and food than the non-Hispanic groups. Black, non-Hispanic CUs allocated more money to housing than any other group, and white, non-Hispanic CUs allocated more money to health care and entertainment than other CUs.

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