Average Family Budget

Average Household Expenses
of American Families

How does your budget compare to the average family budget?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides interesting information about the average expenses of American households. The following table shows the annual expenses and percentages for the average household. The information is taken from the 2009 Consumer Expenditure Survey.


Average Amount








Apparel and Services












Personal Insurance and Pensions









Note: Percentage does not total to 100% due to rounding.

Average Family Budget is Not the Typical Budget

If the average household expenses in this table don’t seem to mirror your own experience, you are probably not alone.

Although you could call this an “average family budget” because it is comprised of the average expenses of Americans, it isn’t necessarily a typical budget for a family. That is because the information is actually based on spending habits of people in vastly different situations.

For instance, the expenses of a single, retired person are obviously much different than those of a family of six. But this table lumps everyone together to come out with the average expenses.

To find numbers that more closely fit your situation, you may want to look at the Current Expenditure Tables that break down the information by several factors such as age, size of household, education, income level, race, region of the country, and other characteristics. The tables also break down the average household expenses into categories in much greater detail.

If you find a table that matches your demographics in most ways, you may still feel like the averages are quite a bit different than your own budget.

An example of this is health care. You may have two families that are alike in almost every way. However, if one is provided complete health coverage by their employer while the other must pay for it entirely out of pocket, the budgets for the two families will be quite different.

Make a Personal Budget

When it comes time for you to make a personal budget, the average family budget numbers may not have much value. The best starting point for personal budget planning is for you to keep track of spending for a month or longer. This will give you a good idea of where you actually spend your money and allow you to categorize your expenses in ways that make sense to you.

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