Average Monthly Expenses for American Households

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If you came into 2024 resolving to get your family spending under control, you are certainly not alone. Getting more exercise, eating better, losing weight – paying off overdue debts! – these are all worthy goals for the new year, or any time.

Getting your finances into shape and eliminating debt, those are things that can help you achieve all of your other goals.

A first step toward getting your own house in order can be to understand how everyone else does it. What does the average American household spend every month to keep itself running? And how does my family spending compare?

Of course, there is no single average American household. A number of factors influence what is a typical income/spending profile. The size of your family is an obvious factor; it is easier to house and feed a single person than a family of six.

Where you live is another determining factor in your cost of living. A good-paying job and nice house in New York is not likely to look the same in Alabama.

And then there are lifestyle choices, which can range from entertainment and dining out to the cost of ice hockey equipment and tennis lessons for active children.

All of these variables can affect your personal financial profile, but there are some categories that are pretty much universal: housing, food, transportation, medical and personal items such as clothing.

Average Monthly Expenses by Household Size

The most recent information about average consumer spending by Americans was released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in September 2023, and is based on data from 2022.  So keep that in mind and understand that numbers are updated where possible.

Americans’ average monthly household expenses totaled $6,071 in 2022, according to the Bureau’s Consumer Expenditure Survey. That number is up 9% from 2021. Remember that average varies depending on household size and other factors.

Average Monthly Expenses for One Person

The average monthly expenses for one person in 2022 were $3,693, up 8.5% from 2021. That translates into an increase of $287.75 per month. The 2022 average for annual expenses was $44,312. That is less than half of the average expenses for a family of four, which was over $100,000.

Average Monthly Expenses for Two People

Two-person households had monthly expenses of $6,372 in 2022, or $76,468 in annual expenses. That increase, 10.2% over 2021 numbers, was the highest increase among family sizes in the survey.

Average Monthly Expenses for a Family of Three

The nature of a family changes as the size of the household increases. A two-person household could include roommates, siblings, a married or cohabitating couple, or a parent and child. Each combination has different needs; two adults may need double the cost for transportation and housing with at least two bedrooms, and so on.

The average monthly expenses for a three-person household in 2022 were $7,189, or $86,265 per year. That’s a 9% increase over 2021, when a family of three spent an average of $6,597 monthly.

Average Monthly Expenses for a Family of Four

In 2022, families or households of four averaged $8,460 in monthly expenses, or $101,514 annually. This was roughly 9.2% higher than in 2021, when families of four had a monthly expense average of $7,749.

Average Monthly Expenses for a Family of Five or More

Just when you think there’s a simple pattern that will continue on, we get to this group. According to the BLS survey, the average monthly expenses for a family of five or more were $8,048 in 2022 – or $392 less than the average family of four. Families of five or more saw their expenses increase by an average of 9% from 2021 to 2022.

This quirk isn’t as mysterious as it first appears. A family of four will need housing to accommodate the whole family. But a three- or four-bedroom house can also accommodate a fifth family member. Constantly upgrading to a larger domicile isn’t practical for most families. Similarly, grocery shopping doesn’t change dramatically. With smaller portions and reduced waste, five mouths can be fed with roughly the same amount of food as four mouths.

Average Monthly Expenses by Age

Average spending according to age follows along according to the different stages in life. The youngest and oldest age groups have lower expenses. The middle groups – ages 34-44 and 45-54 – typically have higher monthly expenses as they get married and raise children.

Americans under 25 spent an average of $3,863 per month in 2022. This group is just completing its education and beginning jobs and careers while typically living relatively free of commitments. Spending-wise, the closest group to those under 25 is the group of people over age 65. That group, which has reduced spending as it enters retirement, spent $4,818 per month on average.

Americans aged 35 to 45 ($7,171) and 45 to 54 ($7,590) spent more per month than their younger and older peers. Those are people in midlife, with growing families, more housing requirements, debts to pay and retirement to save for. All of that costs more than living near the beginning or end of your adult-life journey.

Age GroupAvg. Monthly SpendingAvg. Annual Spending
Age 25-34$5,657$67,883
Age 35-44$7,171$86,049
Age 45-54$7,590$91,074
Age 55-64$6,507$78,079

It’s a good idea to find out how much you will need to save for retirement.

What Are the Main Household Expenses?

No matter how old or young you are, no matter how small or large your family, no matter your annual take-home pay, there are several major items that always make up a large portion of your household expenses. You can be a single vegan with an electric car or a married parent commuting into the city in your minivan. Your essential needs aren’t that different. Here is a look at common expenses.


Housing costs are people’s largest expense, taking up an average of 33% of monthly costs. There are many options – from a small apartment to a large single home and everything in between – but all of them include a range of costs.

  • Rent or mortgage payments are the primary expenditure.
  • Utility bills keep that home warm in winter, cool in summer and connected to electricity all year-round.
  • The government has made certain that wherever you live, there are taxes to be paid on your rent, your mortgage, and your school district.
  • Homeowners insurance is a necessary expense if you own your home. If you’re renting, it’s advisable to have renter’s insurance.
  • Whether it’s money to use facilities at an apartment complex or support your homeowners’ association, there will be fees beyond the basic monthly bill.

There are definite advantages and disadvantages to owning a home. If you choose an apartment, there are important ways to save money on rent.


If having a home takes up the largest portion of monthly expenses, getting everywhere else (and then back home) would rate as the second-biggest expense. Transportation took up 16.8% of the average American’s monthly household expenses.

Transportation costs include car payments and maintenance, fuel, insurance, parking, and public transportation as an alternative or addition to automobile use. Even if someone in the household takes public transit to work, the family may have significant car expenses.

The transition to electric vehicles is moving slowly and includes its own range of expenses. Meanwhile, gas prices are notoriously unstable and can raise monthly costs without warning.

Food & Groceries

The basic human need to eat accounts for 12.8% of the typical American family’s monthly expenses. But this number can vary widely based on your choices and habits. The costs of groceries as well as restaurants are included in the total.

You can save money on groceries and save money overall by eating at home regularly and bringing lunch to work. Your grocery bill can be affected by inflation, food production, distribution costs and other variables. You can splurge on big-ticket items or stock up on less costly choices. It is wise to have a plan for each week, buying what you’ll need for good, balanced meals. This will help you avoid impulse buying, stopping for fast food or ordering takeout, which can drive up your food costs.

When you do treat yourself to dinner out, you can find ways to save money at restaurants via coupons or nightly specials. Making and following through on a plan can help you reduce that monthly expenditure on food without starving yourself or your family.

Personal Insurance and Pensions

It costs most of your take-home pay to keep your daily life on track. There is also a future to prepare for, and that’s where 12% of your monthly expenses ago, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This includes Social Security contributions that are deducted from your paycheck, and money spent on other retirement savings and life insurance. For many Americans, keeping up with daily expenses makes it a challenge to fund a 401(k) or other retirement accounts. Life insurance becomes a way to provide for your surviving family members.


The average monthly expenditure on healthcare is 8% of American families’ spending, but the key word there is average. Healthcare costs can rise dramatically depending on your family’s health and insurance coverage. One illness can drastically change your family’s situation.

This category includes health insurance premiums, out-of-pocket expenses, and prescription costs. Insurance can help significantly cover emergency healthcare costs, and it is a good idea to save on health insurance premiums while you can. Maintaining coverage should be the priority because a health emergency can come at any time.


Sure, you can lower your entertainment costs by never doing anything fun or interesting, but that kind of defeats the purpose of being alive in the first place. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that entertainment costs accounted for 4.7% of monthly spending for the typical family.

Entertainment includes going to the movies, streaming home entertainment, bowling or playing pickleball, going to concerts or sporting events, or putting your kids in sports or dance lessons. Managing your spending on the big-ticket items like housing and transportation can help you afford the things that make life fun.

How Does Inflation Impact Average Household Expenses?

Your best-laid plans can be disrupted by larger economic forces, especially inflation. Rising interest rates can help slow inflation down but can also make your monthly credit card bills go up. Making and maintaining a budget during inflation can be tricky but is still worthwhile.

Periods of inflation are usually not accompanied by a corresponding rise in salaries or pay. That means your calculations for budgeting and controlling spending can be thrown into chaos. For all that, it is still best to make calculations and create your best plans. Whatever happens in the economy, smart planning will give you the best chance to weather the storm.

How to Budget Your Household Expenses

The national averages can help you see how you compare to others in your age bracket or in similar family situations. That is helpful, but the reality is that each person is unique and has a financial situation that depends upon a number of factors.

Looking at national averages and trends can help you assess your own income and expenses and figure out where you may need to make adjustments. Once you understand where your money is being spent, you can figure out ways to cut waste and manage your money better.

Once you learn how to make a budget, you can begin to reduce your expenses or reallocate your spending. If debt is an obstacle, call a nonprofit credit counselor from a certified nonprofit counseling agency. They are experts at helping you create an affordable budget and eliminating the debt that may slow your financial progress.

About The Author

Phil Sheridan

Phil Sheridan writes about managing personal debt for InCharge. He spent over 30 years learning about labor negotiations, salary caps, stadium negotiations and a lot of other finance-related matters as a reporter and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer and ESPN. Phil will use those experiences to make readers more comfortable about their own financial situation.


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