What Do You Spend On…

I love it when I get an insight into what people spend their money on. If anyone looked at my budget they might be surprised to see what I spend on tea and on books. (It’s in my budget!) Not so much on clothes and other STUFF. Well, I’ve culled the polls and found some info you might be interested in.

When I asked how much you spend per person in your family on clothes each year:

  • 8% of you said less than $100
  • 20% of you said $100-250
  • 28% of you said $250-500
  • 26% of you said $500-$1000
  • 8% of you said $1000-$1500
  • 5% of you said $1500-$2000
  • 5% of you said more than $2000

Clothes aren’t the only things you guys are moderate on. Clearly I have no Princesses on my site! When I asked how much you spend on entertainment each month:

  • 5% of you said nothing
  • 33% of you said $25-$50
  • 28% of you said $50-100
  • 26% of you said $100-250
  • 8% said more than $250

Now we come to the furry children. Of the over 800 people who voted on this poll, 37% don’t have pets, so I’m leaving them off the results. Of those who have pets:

  • 55% of you spend between $25-50 a month
  • 19% of you spend between $50-75 a month
  • 14% of you spend between $75-100 a month
  • 7% of you spend between $100-150 a month
  • 5% of you spend more than $150 a month

You seem to be a fairly generous bunch. When I asked what your annual gift budget is, including birthday’s special occasions and Christmas:

  • 10% of you spend $100 or less per year
  • 21% spend $100-$500
  • 33% spend $500-$1000
  • 32% spend $1000-$2000
  • 4% said, “I don’t have a budget: the sky’s the limit. Can I be YOUR friend too?

People are always writing to me to ask how much they should be spending in various categories of their budgets. I don’t know. It’s not for me to say how much you should spend on food, play, passions. I will say you can only spend YOUR money… so no credit. And you need to take care of the must-haves before the nice-to-haves come into the picture, including saving for the future. The rest is up to you. It ‘s your money, I’m not the person who gets to decide how you spend it.

Are you surprised to see how little or how much people spend in various areas of their lives? When was the last time you took a good, hard look at where YOUR money is going and if that’s how you want to be spending it?

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Gail Vaz-Oxlade

Gail Vaz-Oxlade wants YOU! Join MyMoneyMyChoices.com to get smarter about your money and help others get smarter about theirs. Isn’t it time we eliminated financial illiteracy? Come find me on Google+ and on Twitter.

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30 Responses to “What Do You Spend On…”

  1. Guess I’m in good company I budget:
    $120 a year for clothes
    $10-20 a month for entertainment
    Have no furry friend
    $120 a year for gifts.

  2. Thanks for this breakdown, Gail, especially in the furry friends area! I’d be curious to know as well how the amounts correlate with dog and cat owners, or even small dog and big dog owners. I love my big dog to bits, but she does cost me a pretty penny! Her costs on my budget are bigger than my clothing, entertainment, and gift budgets combined. Then again, I do seem to end up wearing her fur, she provides plenty of free entertainment, and I do think she’s the most fabulous gift ever. :)

  3. I suppose I go against the norm here, because I don’t “budget”. We spend less than we make, and keep an emergency fund, and we are starting the “pay yourself first”. We are debt free in a couple of months (last car payment today! And mortgage soon to follow!), so I guess it works for us. We have occasional “splurges”, but then scale back. Could we be doing better? There’s always room for better, but we have pension plans, RRSPs and RESPs. How we break down what we spend elsewhere is irrelevant. Besides, it would likely be just cause for an argument. I don’t really want to know what hubby spends on beer, and he doesn’t really want/need to know what I spend on hair 😉

  4. I don’t budget and, to be honest, I’ve never taken a “good, hard look” at where my money is going. I do know that the mortgage is paid off, I have no debts, retirement is dealt with, and I have various funds in place for expenses in the future. I have tried to keep track of expenditures a few times but it didn’t work as I throw receipts away except for major purchases like appliances.
    I was surprised at how little some people spend on clothing in a year especially if clothes include shoes. Fifty-six percent say they spend less than $500. This doesn’t buy much for an adult and it would be hard to outfit a growing child or teenager on $500 a year.

  5. I have a budget that I track on a monthly basis. I’m actually a bit surprised by the amount (low) people are saying they spend on the categories mentioned above. Especially the entertainment section, which I guess people tend to take liberty with what is included in that?

    It also depends on where you live and where you are in your lifecycle. I look at this as one of many inputs as to how little or how much you can potentially budget on certain categories. :)

    Without going into the details, the point would be lost, so I summize with what Gail ended with – don’t create debt by consuming and make sure you are saving for emergency and the future.

    If all that is in check, happy spending!

  6. Our family spends about
    $50/mo clothing ($150/year pp budgeted but a little more goes to the kids than the adults)
    $80/week entertainment ($20 each pocket money for my husband and I, $26 for family fun fund, and $14 allowances between our girls)
    $20/mo cat
    $1,800/year gifts

  7. I enjoy buying gifts for other people.

  8. avatar Tracey H Says:
    March 15, 2013 at 9:43 am

    So much depends on stage of life. We have grandchildren so our gift budget is larger (especially since we give them a substantial amount of money every year towards their RESPs). And I’m assuming the people in your study don’t lump internet and cable TV into their Entertainment budget (we do). We used to be able to keep our clothing budget low, but between my husband’s job and needing to attend several black tie events every year, we can’t keep it as low as we could before.

    We do know where our money goes (and have for 35 years). I think that’s the most important thing because if you have to tweak your budget (job loss, change, etc.) it makes it easy to see where you can cut back.

  9. Mint categories my discretionaries for me. I was quite surprised to see how much we were spending on gas. It shouldn’t have come as a shock however, since we live in a rural area. But still… We also spend a lot on livestock feed for our hobby farm. I can’t decide whether to categorize that as “pets” or “groceries”. Yes, we grow our own meat but they have a Cadillac-existence :)
    I removed the coffee shop and clothing categories because we’re just so darn boring and didn’t spend the $10 and $50 assigned to them.

  10. Times are changing for me…. my company got some “bad news” and it’s looking not so good in approx. 1 year’s time.

    The uncertainty is making me look very hard at what I spend… and the “Generous Kat” is going by by… no more picking up tabs for meals, no more excessive gift buying.

    It’s going to be hard. I have a budget, but I really use it more as a guideline… that changes too.

    As an aside… I would just like to say that I think a portion (how high/low don’t know) of the polls would be inaccurate. I know I participated in the polls… and I guessed my expenses very accurately in my head… until someone mentioned shoes above… and I’m like “oh yeah!” (I have bad feet… end up spending at least $150 on a “good” pair every year, sometimes 2x per year).

    Timely note!

  11. Interesting that Tracey had TV and Internet as part or entertainment. I put them in with utilities under my Housing section of expenses and consider them as essential as power and water.

  12. I always find these sorts of posts interesting. I must echo the comment that things change depending on one’s stage of life. I can remember when my kids were small and my husband and I were “starting out”. Our budget for clothes, outings, and so on was very modest. Fortunately we read the pay yourself first books early in life and that frugality has paid off. Now at middle age with teenagers we can afford to be more free with our spending. We have no debt other than a mortgage which will be paid off in less then two years, kids’ educations already paid for (RESP’s and trust funds), RRSP’s/TFSA’s, etc. While we enjoy stuff as much as other people what we really enjoy are experiences and travel. As a proportion of our household income, what we spend on clothes, dog, food, stuff etc. is likely very reasonable, particularly if you were to compare us to others in our income bracket. But, our experience and travel budgets are pretty generous! I would also agree with a generous budget for books and tea, though I would add wine in that line as well!

  13. I’m probably on the high side on all those things, although as a couple we don’t have children and the pet has a medical condition and medicine costs a bit (although it is worth it as the cat’s health is normalized and she’s happy).

    What I’ve definitely cut back on is buying clothes that don’t fill an absolute need in the wardrobe. We’ve also cut back more and more on things/stuff/junk.

    As a couple we’d much rather be buying good gifts for others and paying for entertainment and experiences out rather than purchasing the latest gadget or overbuying books and magazines and household decorative items. It’s the stuff category that isn’t so much captured above where you can save tons and tons of money.

  14. One thing I don’t quite understand; many are saying they don’t spend a lot of money on “stuff” like clothes and objects that fill their homes, but spend a lot on gifts for others. I find it hard to spend on “stuff” for others because we don’t want to laden them with “stuff” either.

  15. I feel sad for the pets (that are not hamsters/goldfish/other tiny creatures) of owners that spend less than $50 a month. Feeding a cat or a dog quality, species appropriate food and taking care of vet bills doesn’t cost less than $50. Oi.

  16. avatar Christine Says:
    March 15, 2013 at 11:30 am

    I have a small dog and I can say that on average I spend less than $50/month on her – including vet bills and “quality, species-appropriate food”. She goes through a large bag of dog food approximately every three months, we have Vet Insurance (we’ve had it for as long as we’ve had her, so we are locked in at a very good rate) to cover all medical bills with the exception of annual vet visits, and her annual visit & shots costs us around $150. If you average the total costs over the course of the year, it works out to less than $50/monthly. Some months are more expensive than others but it averages out.

  17. avatar Marilynne Says:
    March 15, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    I am a senior woman on pensions – not huge but enough to be comfortable and a few “extras”. Last year I averaged $415.57 a month on groceries (yes, I eat well), $15.24 on transportation (don’t own a car, bus it or walk), $143.77 on my little dog (who has some health issues ..since Jan have spent over $1300!!!! – he’s worth it), $346.31 on house (repairs, insurance, decor – does not include mortgage and strata maintenance fees), donate $31.87, $144.44 on entertainment (includes lottery tickets, meals and snacks out, wine), $87.24 on clothing, $180.18 on health/drugs (on one expensive drug), $101.13 on gifts amd $72.98 on misc (mail, computer paper, dry cleaning – anything that doesn’t fit any of the above)

  18. 4% of people spend $0 on entertainment. Riiiight. So all your fun all the time is something that’s free. Never go see a movie, go to a concert, see a play in the theatre. Not once a year? That sounds to me either very sad or just a lie.

  19. I, too, find it hard to understand how someone spends zero on entertainment. Anyone with even basic cable and internet is spending on entertainment. If you ever invite friends over it costs money. Do they never see a show, buy a magazine or a new CD or DVD? Maybe some of the 4% can elaborate.

  20. avatar Elizabeth A Says:
    March 15, 2013 at 3:32 pm

    @ anna, I think with the pets it’s more about how healthy they are than if it’s a dog or cat. I have a passel of cats left from my married life, and they are my biggest expense, hands down. I love them like children, but won’t add to the bunch because I won’t be able to afford them on a pension. Some have significant health issues to manage, and they are all doing great, but that’s really where the expense comes in. And you can’t predict that ahead of time. I have pet insurance on all of them and so far my one little cat has “paid” for the premiums for all of them every year in the money I get back. I think this year may be the first in six or so she doesn’t, lol!

  21. I had to think about what I spend on entertainment besides the $11.20 a month for the PVR(cable is included in my rent). I don’t go to movies, theatre, or sporting events because of my temperament can’t stand the loud volume of most places. I stay at home. I love being home. I do buy movies for my kids(no video games) and I like them too. I make sure the movies I buy are pre-viewed or on sale. I don’t care if the movie is going back into the vault, if I don’t have the cash, I don’t buy it. I also take into consideration how often my kids will watch it. Living in the Vancouver area means it rains a lot and movies can save the day( so can play doh).
    I spend a lot of money on food. I like steak and so do my kids but we don’t eat it everyday.
    I don’t have any pets. 2kids are expensive and demanding enough.
    As for gifts: pfff I’ll need to make a line for that. As my oldest is being invited to B-day parties I don’t want to be surprised by it.

  22. I don’t recall what I answered for the entertainment question, but I don’t go to movies, theater or concerts, I don’t buy magazines or CDs or DVDs. I do buy books, so perhaps I put that in the entertainment budget?

    Pets are definitely my biggest expense, I have 2 small dogs and 2 cats, vet bills for the dogs are large as they have bad teeth and one has a bad kidney, and I home-cook organic food for them, but they are totally worth every penny I spend on them – they are most of the reason I don’t go to movies, shows, concerts: I would rather be home spending time with them. :-)

    I would spend more on clothes and shoes but I was such a terrible spendaholic 5 years ago that I can probably go for another 5 years without buying a stitch of clothing at least!

  23. Very interesting. Like all surveys, I fit some categories very well, and others not so much. I have line items in my budget for coffee (yes, I’m a coffee snob and I don’t mean the name-brand. I spent many years in Colombia and I think I was spoiled there by good rich fresh yummy coffee)

    As for entertainment, that’s a continual source of wonder for me. Some months I spend, some months I don’t. It’s that simple. And I don’t find myself bored, or sad. This month I’m spending 2 entire weekends, and many work-nights, studying for my Professional Coder’s Exam. That will add to my worth on the job, my expenses are reimbursed by my employer, and it’s a good investment in my future. It certainly doesn’t qualify as this month’s entertainment :-), but it definitely will cause a jump in next month’s! Some months are like that – I really DON’T have the time.

    And…there are many many valuable but free entertaining things to do in my area of the world. I love nothing better than a beautiful run through the forest, or a bike ride by the creek in the early morning. And I do this out of the sense of serenity it adds to my life. To each his/her own, when it comes to entertainment!

  24. I budget rigorously and an embarrassingly large amount ($600+) is budgeted to fun, which is all discretionary spending-restaurants, clothes, etc. I don’t spend it every month, but it gets reserved for future months.

    As a category, it’s dwarfed only by savings. After I got rid of my mortgage, I continued making the doubled payments into my savings, and have never touched it. (Before that, there was much, much less spending on fun.) And the other categories are very small.

  25. It is possible to spend $0 on entertainment… if you don’t count cable and internet monthly costs as ‘entertainment’.

    It all depends on what you have in your home. We have a piano, a pool table, lots of board games, and quite a collection of movies.

    Because of my hours at work, we rarely have a chance to socialize.

  26. I guess the whole point is that when you get to details, there will always be inconsistencies in people’s budgets.

    I try to keep my eye on the goal: make sure I’m spending my money on the things that are important to me while not going into consumer debt and saving enough for a rainy day/retirement! :)

  27. About $0 on entertainment, I don’t go to movies, plays, or concerts. I haven’t bought a cd or dvd since 2003 (has anyone?), and I don’t have cable or satellite tv. Why? because right now I’m not making enough money, and I won’t charge it to my credit card.
    I do have internet but never considered that entertainment.
    It is kind of sad but that’s life right now. I find the only issue is when I get together with people I don’t know well, and the neutral conversation turns to pop culture and I haven’t got a clue to what they’re talking about.
    For entertainment I hang out with friends and family, play board games, go for walks, because of where i work I get freebies to museums and cultural places like that, and I use the library.

  28. I’ve been lately trying to be more specific about my budget numbers, because I always used to underestimate and therefore things never aligned correctly. However, our entertainment budget is small (we have a netflix account, mostly for my son, because we don’t have cable or regular tv), I wouldn’t class internet as entertainment and my hubby and I try to have a date night min once a month and son goes to sleepover at grandparents, so no babysitter expense. But there is also so much free stuff to do – library with our son, not chapters where there is the temptation to buy, skating at public parks, sledding, etc, etc. Quite possible to have a small entertainment budget and still have a great fulfilling life.
    I know for me, if I go in the mall, I will spend money and will want “stuff”. If I don’t go, I’m happy with what I have :)

  29. Plus, I forgot to add that we pack our own snacks whenever we go out, partly for ease because of my son’s allergy, but also because it is cheaper. You can even take your own snacks to the movies – its soooo much cheaper!

  30. Zsanett, it is very possible to live a full life without going to a movie or a concert or a theatre even once a year. Try living in the middle of nowhere where none of those things are available. Then, when you do go to the city 2-3 time per year, you bring your baby or toddler with you and have nobody to babysit. There are lots of ways to have fun while spending little to no money… fishing, swimming in the lake, hiking, camping to name a few. In the winter libraries are great, you can even rent movies for free! Also, if you happen to live in a bigger city (Ottawa for example), often libraries have free passes available to museums and other places of entertainment.

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