Learning how to create a budget for your household can be complicated. You need to pay several expenses to cover your basic needs, including housing, groceries, and clothing.
But for many people, average monthly expenses also include debt payments, retirement savings, child care, private school, and more.
To get an idea of how the average American household budget shapes up, we’ve analyzed data from several sources. Keep in mind that your actual expenses can vary depending on where you live in the U.S.
Read on to find out how your average monthly expenses compare.
Average monthly expenses in the U.S.
- Overall household budget
- Average debt expenses
- Other expenses
- Budget wisely for your average monthly expenses
Overall household budget
U.S. households earned an average of $74,664 in 2016.1 Here’s how those earnings were used to pay off the following average monthly expenses1:
- Housing: $1,574
- Transportation: $754
- Food: $600
- Personal insurance and pensions: $569
- Health care: $384
- All other expenditures: $328
- Entertainment: $243
- Cash contributions: $173
- Apparel and services: $150
Here are some additional highlights1:
- Food at home: $337
- Food away from home: $263
- Health insurance: $263
- Gas and oil changes: $159
- Life and personal insurance: $27
But those budget categories don’t tell the whole story for all Americans when it comes to average monthly expenses and how they fit into an annual budget.
That fact is especially true if you’re making debt payments, saving for the future, or paying for child care. If you have these regular monthly expenses, take a look at the following statistics to see how your household budget measures up.
Average debt expenses
|Type of Debt||Average Monthly Payment|
|Mortgage loans||$1,179 for existing homes
$1,463 for new construction homes
|Car loans||$504 for new cars
$365 for used cars
|Personal loans||$250 to $337, depending on credit score|
|Credit cards||$156 minimum payment|
- $1,178 for existing homes
- $1,472 for new construction homes
The median home price for an existing home was $253,600 in the second quarter of 2017.2 In contrast, new homes sold for $317,000 during that time.2
About six out of 10 Americans buy new cars over used cars.3 But the difference between monthly payments for a new car versus a used car is significant3:
- Average monthly payment for a new car loan: $504
- Average monthly payment on a used car loan: $365
That’s a payment difference of $139 per month.
Americans owe more in student loans than ever before, and the burden doesn’t seem to be lessening anytime soon. The average student loan borrower from the class of 2016 has $37,172 in student loan debt.
For those who are just out of school — ages 20 to 30 — the average monthly payment is $351.
Personal loans are growing faster than any other loan type, with an average balance of $7,729 at the end of 2016.4
However, personal loan interest rates can vary wildly depending on your credit score. Here’s what to expect when it comes to an average personal loan balance with a three-year term5:
According to a Student Loan Hero credit card and household debt study, the average U.S. household has $6,662 in credit card debt, which comes out to an average minimum monthly payment of $156.
For people who don’t own a home, rent can be just as expensive. As of September 2017, tenants pay an average of $1,354.6
Americans with a defined contribution plan like a 401(k) or 403(b) contribute 6.2 percent of their salary to their retirement.7
Based on the average gross household income of $74,664, that percentage comes out to $386 per month.
Experts typically recommend saving 10 to 15 percent of your gross income toward your retirement goals.
For parents with small children, child care costs can vary wildly depending on the type of care you choose. Here are the average monthly costs for different types of care8:
|Care Type||Average Monthly Cost|
|Family child care center||$867|
You don’t have to pay tuition to send your child to a public school. Comparatively, private schools can cost close to a thousand dollars per month depending on where you live.
The average monthly expense for all private elementary schools across the nation is $743.9
For private high schools, the cost goes up to $1,127 per month.9
Other school expenses
Whether your child goes to a public or private school, you likely won’t escape back-to-school costs.
Between supplies, school pictures, clothing, and mandatory school fees, you’ll spend the following each year10:
- $662 for elementary school children, or $55 per month
- $1,001 for middle school children, or $83 per month
- $1,489 for high school children, or $124 per month
It’s wise to save up for a vacation rather than using credit.
With the average household spending $1,798 on a summer vacation, you’d need to set aside $150 per month.11
Budget wisely for your average monthly expenses
Budgeting is an essential step toward getting your financial life in order and reaching your money goals. But it can be hard to know whether you’re spending too much or not enough in some areas.
Comparing your monthly expenses with the national average can give you a reference point so you know where you stand. For example, if you’re not saving enough, it can encourage you to find areas where you can cut back to save more.
As you consider the average monthly expenses for some of your top spending categories, consider how you can use the information to improve your own household budget.
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- Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Mortgage Bankers Association
- Value Penguin
- Yardi Matrix
- Private School Review
- Allianz Travel Insurance
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