Thursday, August 2, 2018

Millennial Spending

I recently came across this interesting article on how much money millennials spend every year compared to other generations. I'm not sure how accurate these numbers are, but they supposedly come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey. Unsurprisingly (based on my personal experience), millennials spend a lot of money dining out, although apparently they are not the group that spends the most money on food. I was also not surprised to see that millennials spend less money on shelter and utilities than other generations, since they may live with family members who cover these expenses. However, I was surprised that people from my generation spend relatively little money on alcohol outside the home (I guess I expected people to spend more money at bars and clubs). Also, I was surprised that the average millennial spends as much money on clothes as they do. Maybe I shouldn't be, since I obviously like to buy clothes, but I thought I was an outlier. Finally, millennials spend a decent amount of money on entertainment every year, although I don't think internet should be included in this category, because it's definitely a necessity in this day and age.

All of this got me thinking about how my own spending compares, so I thought I would do a rough break-down using the categories from the article.

I love good food, and I consider myself a foodie, so it's definitely one of my biggest monthly expenditures. I love checking out new restaurants, and a lot of my social life revolves around food in some way, shape, or form. I really like communing with friends over meals, because the experience just brings people together. I usually eat dinner at home on the weekdays but frequently go out for lunch and on the weekends. Also, when I shop for groceries, I like to buy quality produce and try out new exotic ingredients. I estimate that I spend about $500-$600 per month on food.
Verdict: on par with most millennials, maybe slightly more

In general, I'm not a huge drinker. At home I will occasionally have a glass of wine with dinner, or if my boyfriend offers to make me a cocktail (he's actually pretty good at mixing drinks!). I very rarely drink beer. In fact, I don't even like it, so I'll only order one when friends drag me to a bar or brewery. However, I do like fancy cocktails, especially the complicated ones that you can't make at home. They're expensive though, so I only have them on special occasions. I estimate that I spend less than $20 per month on alcohol.
Verdict: less than most millennials

I'm currently in an unusual situation. Right now I live with my boyfriend, who owns a small studio condo unit. It's not the place I would have chosen to live if we had picked it out together (it's simply too small for two people), but due to the circumstances, we will be living here at least until I graduate. We agreed that it would strain our relationship for him to act as my landlord, especially given that the place is really meant to house only one person, so we just split his monthly HOA and any household expenses.
Verdict: temporarily less than most millennials

Since our place is so small, the electric bill comes out to less than $100 per month. The condo HOA includes internet and water. Also, I am currently still on my parents' cellphone plan, which they have generously agreed to pay until I graduate.
Verdict: temporarily less than most millennials

Obviously I have blogged about this subject extensively over the years. This year I set myself a clothing budget of $150/month calculated on an annual basis. In 2015 (the last time that I did a comprehensive clothing budget review), I spent about $195/month.
Verdict: more than most millennials

I live in an area with poor public transit, so you really need a car to get around. I used to share one with my ex-fiance, but after our separation, I had to get my own. After searching for a while, I found a 5-year-old European car that I really liked. Originally I was just planning to use the money I had saved up from before, but then my parents generously offered to buy it for me as a combined present (normally I never get presents from them for my birthday or Christmas, so they said it was back pay for the last 20+ years). My insurance costs about $100 per month. Sadly, my car requires premium gas and isn't the most fuel efficient, so I spend about $70 per month on that. Also I pay for an on-campus parking permit, which comes out to another $60 a month. I never use rideshare apps. So far I haven't spent too much money on car repair, but I expect that it will eventually cost a pretty penny since repairs for European cars tend to be more expensive. I still love my car though!
Verdict: on par with most millennials

I don't like to watch too much TV (because I already spend enough time being sedentary at school), so I don't have cable or Netflix. Also I don't usually watch movies in theaters for that same reason. However, I will sometimes catch free movies or documentaries on Amazon Prime Video since I already have Amazon Prime. I don't follow any of the major organized sports, although I do watch a few obscure ones (climbing, figure skating, and swimming for example). Even though I read a lot, I usually check out free e-books from my local library (and now via my 3-month Kindle Unlimited membership). I do spend quite a bit of money on my hobbies, but I feel okay about that since they're improving my mental and physical health.
Verdict: more than most millennials

What did you think of the article? How does your spending compare? Which categories do you spend more and less on?


  1. Thanks for the interesting article! It is always astonishing to see how much an American spends on car...I don’t live in the US any more so I go to save that amount. Now I spend more on travel, hotel, flight etc, which I didnot see in that article.

    1. I'm glad you found it interesting! Yes, Americans definitely drive more than people from other countries. It's no wonder though since our cities frequently have bad public transit, lack bike lanes, and are too sprawling. I would much rather spend my money on travel too. I think the article didn't cover that category, because it's too variable across people, but I'd love to see some numbers!