There are many costs to consider when you’re just starting out with a new household. Although costs vary by location, looking at national average household expenses can give you a good idea of how you’ll need to spend your income to run your home. The 2017 Consumer Expenditure Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides data on average household spending for American families. You can use this data when planning your own budget.
The average income before taxes per household in 2017 was $73,573. The average household expenses were $60,060. For the average household, the majority of household spending went toward housing. About $19,885 of the average annual expenses was spent on either rentals or privately owned property in 2017. This breaks down to about $1,657 per month and includes repairs to the dwelling as well as the cost of insurance and taxes. Of course, this expense varies depending on the age of the household members and whether the home is owned or rented. Geographic location is another big factor in cost.
Getting to and from work is a priority for everyone who is trying to maintain a household, so it’s not surprising that transportation is the next-highest category of spending for the average family. Besides car purchases and payments on car loans, this category of spending includes car repairs, insurance, fuel, registration and tolls. It also includes fares for public transit. The average household spent $9,576 of household expenses on transportation in 2017, or $798 per month.
The average household spent $7,729 of annual expenses on food. This works out to $644 per month and includes food purchased at grocery stores and prepared at home as well as the cost of dining out at restaurants. It should be remembered that this number is an average and varies widely by income level and geographic location. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that lower-income households spend a larger percentage on food in general, while higher-income households spend a higher proportion of their food budget on food consumed away from home.
Another major category of expenses for the average household is healthcare. CNBC reported that single individuals were spending $321 per month on healthcare, while families paid closer to $833 per month. The biggest portion of this spending is for health insurance, either private health insurance, group insurance or Medicare supplemental coverage. Other health care spending includes medical services, tests, hospital stays and prescription drugs.
Catie Watson spent three decades in the corporate world before becoming a freelance writer. She has an English degree from UC Berkeley and specializes in topics related to personal finance, careers and business.