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
Interested in refinancing your student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Variable APR||Average Savings|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.87% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.57% – 6.98%3||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit SoFi|
|2.47% – 5.87%1||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Earnest|
|2.47% – 8.03%4||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Lendkey|
|2.80% – 6.22%2||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Laurel Road|
|2.48% – 6.25%5||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit CommonBond|
|2.57% – 8.17%6||Undergrad & Graduate||Visit Citizens|