Wednesday, May 2

Is Your Average Monthly Spending Average For JAX?

Bank of America has this goofy tool that shows monthly spending based on zip code. I am sure it's not terribly accurate, since people use multiple sources of their money to spend (like other credit cards), but it does provide some percentages that might be useful for comparison. Actually, the link is for Better Money Habits and Khan Academy, so maybe it is more useful than just other BOA member stats. I'm not sure, but I'll take a look at it, anyhow.

According to the tool, people with similar income to my family spend somewhere between $6,000 and $7,000 per month. That's crazy to begin with, since the income ranges from $40,000 to $100,000 in this range. A family making $40,000 and spending $6,000 a month would be $32,000 in the hole each year. If you're making $100,000 a year and spending $7,000 a month, then you get to save $16,000 each year. I guess everyone else can take out a loan with Bank of America.

Anyway, let's look at the ways people are getting to over $6,000 a month in spending to see how my family (or yours) stacks up.

Home and Utilities = $1708 (ours is about $1700) + $10
Transportation = $850 (we're at around $500 until another car breaks down) + $350
Groceries = $370 (for a family of four? We're more like $700) - $330
Personal and Family Care = $60 (I am not sure what this is) + $60
Health = $375 (I already subtracted that from income, except co-pays) + $350
Restaurants = $300 (We're just under $200 a month) + $100
Shopping/Entertainment = $485 (hard for me to tell based on Discover, but it's ballpark) +$0
Cash / Checks / Misc = $220 (odd category. Drug money?) + $220
Education = $110 (I finally paid off my own student loan, but we do private school, so $650) - $540
Finance = $1600 (again, not sure if this is all interest owed? Or financial investments? I added the house finance to Home and Utilities, and that's our only interest, so zero here. Also zero if it means retirement investment, which it does not seem to mean.) +$1600 

So our family spends almost $2,000 less than the average family in our area, even with tuition, mostly because of less "Finance" payments.  Anyhow, we spend over $4,000 a month, or over $50,000 a year, which is a lot to spend. Luckily, we're not several thousand in the red each year, but I think the best advice for not getting there is to limit the finance category, whether it's for houses, cars, credit cards, college, or whatever. If we can all take the banks out of the equation as much as possible, then we can get by on a lot less income. 

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