I ran across a quote the other day that really struck home:
Where we spend our resources directly reflects what we value.
Think about it. According to Forbes.com, in 2006 the average American household earned $54,400 before taxes, and spent 7.7% of their money on food at home, 5.6% on eating out, and 1.1% on alcoholic beverages.
That adds up to 14.4% on eating and drinking, but only half of that is at home.
We spent 22% on housing,
6% on basic utilities (phone, gas, electric),
3.4% on clothing,
12.5% on transportation (vehicle purchases, gas, maintenance),
5.7% on healthcare (insurance, prescriptions, etc.),
3% on entertainment (buying TV’s, MP3 players and other sound equipment, plus movie/theatre tickets),
11% on pensions and personal insurance (life, social security, retirement).
The rest goes to taxes and miscellaneous dribs and drabs (like philanthropic endeavors, which are shockingly small).
Of the money we spent on food, almost half of that is for eating out – fast food, sit-down restaurants, pizza, lattes, happy hour appetizers, take-out, hot dog stands, sushi bars, smoothies, and Krispy Kremes. We all know that eating out is more expensive than cooking at home, and I would hope that by now we realize that eating out is fraught with fat, sodium, and calorie gluttony. So, what if we ate at home more often? What if we changed our priorities, and instead of zipping through the drive-thru we spent five minutes packing a healthy lunch?
And look at all that car expense! Wow! Americans sure like their new cars, don’t they? We spend twice as much just getting around than we do on our personal health and well being.
Housing, boy – talk about sticker shock. That’s a national average, and while I live in an area with relatively high housing costs, I know that many areas of the country are a lot less expensive — so why do we spend so much on a place to live? Now, this survey was from 2006, before the whole housing market / bank mortgage fiasco; perhaps by now more people are living within their means. Somehow, I doubt it.
In 2006, Americans charged almost $2 billion to credit cards.