Lifestyle News

We’re all guilty at some point of dropping money on items that are considered “non-essentials.” And if we’re really being honest, and taking a hard look at our monthly spending, it’s not hard to see how much money we’re wasting.  In fact, according to new research, the average American spends $1,497 a month on non-essential items.

What are these “non-essentials”?

Dining out, cable, streaming services, subscription boxes, and more can really add up.  While at the moment it doesn’t seem like a lot of money… $1,500 a month adds up to almost $18,000 a year! That’s more than a million dollars over the course of an adult lifetime.

Yes, we could be millionaires.  If we could just cut this superfluous spending!

“Treat Yourself”… Ocassionally!

There’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat, something that brings you happiness.  For our mental health, we all need to find things that increase our happiness! But, a survey of 2,000 Americans reveals the average person does a little more treating than just occasionally!

Average American Monthly Spending

Results from the survey show the average American spends $20 on coffee, another $209 on dinners out, and $189 on drinks with friends.

On top of that, many are still paying around $91 per month for cable.  Then you add on streaming services for around $23. And if you add in music streaming services, that’s $22.  Additional apps add on about $23.

And then… there’s the gym!  Which is great for your health, but can be costly.  On average, Americans are spending around $70 on gym memberships and classes.

Impulsive Purchases

The same survey found we make an average of five impulsive purchases a month.  That adds up to an average of about $109. And while we don’t put a lot of thought into that impulsive spending (especially if it’s on sale, right?), the majority of respondents in the survey admit there are important things they can’t afford.

Essential Versus Non-Essential

The study was commissioned by Ladder and conducted by OnePoll for National Life Insurance Day (May 2nd).  When looking at Americans’ spending on essential versus non-essential items, the study found Americans could tweak their spending habits and be able to afford the essentials more easily.

Thoughts on Spending Habits

The survey asked respondents about their feelings around financial decisions.  Not surprisingly, 70% believe they could make smarter decisions monthly.  And 24% of them admitted to not having a budget.

Scroll down to see what we think we can’t afford, and a breakdown of our non-essential monthly spend.  Plus, some ideas to help you save!

Source: SWNS Digital

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  • Things Americans Feel They Can't Afford?

    • Putting money into a retirement account (38%)
    • Life insurance (35%)
    • Paying off credit cards (28%)
    • Car repairs (26%)
    • Owning a car (24%)

    Some of these could wind up being costly in the long run!

  • Non-Essential Spending - Monthly

  • Dinner Out

    This costs us around $209.38 a month, on average.

    Ideas to save:

    • Make more meals at home.
    • Create meals with friends in bulk– freezer meals!
    • Use coupons.
    • Go out at lunch, versus dinner.
    • Buy discounted gift cards for restaurants.
    • Share a meal, or split yours to take home for leftovers.
    • Skip appetizers.
    • Drink water, versus soda or tea.
  • Drinks Out with Friends/Co-Workers

    These get togethers can cost us around $188.68 a month.

    Ideas to save:

    • Go at happy hour when there are drink specials.
    • Have a get together at home, and make it BYOB.
    • Choose what’s on tap or house liquor.
    • Buy pitchers.
    • Alternate between alcohol and water.
  • Takeout/Delivery

    Between ordering takeout/delivery and purchasing lunch… you’re looking at about $351.50!

    Ideas to save:

    • Brown bag it! Bringing a lunch a few times a week can help you save a lot!
    • Everyone pitch in.  Ordering with a group? Place one order, and have everyone cover their cost and a portion of the delivery fee.
    • Look for discounts and specials at your favorite restaurants and in your favorite food delivery apps.
  • Impulse Purchases

    This costs us around $108.97 a month.

    Ideas to save:

    • Unsubscribe!  It’s tempting when your favorite stores are constantly sending “sales” directly to your inbox!
    • Wait! Give yourself a day or two to really think about whether you want to purchase or not.
    • Delete your credit card information from your favorite shopping accounts.  When you have to retrieve your card every time… it’ll make you re-think those purchases.
    • Don’t shop when you’re emotional.
    • Stop to think about the item’s cost, and how many hours of work it would take to cover that item.
    • Do a No-Spend Challenge
  • Cable

    On average, we spend about $90.57 on cable costs.

    Ideas to save:

    • Adjust your plan– especially if you have a lot of premium channels you’re paying for.
    • Cut back on cable boxes.  How often does the TV in that room actually get watched?
    • Bundle with your internet.
    • Negotiate a better deal– some providers will work with you to keep you as a customer.
    • Consider switching.  Cable companies often offer great incentives and discounts for new customers.
    • Cut the cord.  With so many shows and movies available elsewhere, you could just ditch cable altogether and opt for lower cost streaming services.
  • Gym Memberships, Fitness Classes, Personal Trainers

    The average person spends around $72.53 on gym membership, classes and/or trainers.

    Ideas to save:

    • Consider how often you visit the gym or take those classes.  Break it down to a daily cost. Are you getting your money’s worth? If not, consider cancelling your membership.
    • Consider online options.  There are many great online resources and videos that offer great workouts you can do at home.
    • Switch gyms- and look for gyms who are offering deals for new customers.
    • Workout with friends. Plan walks/runs at local parks.  Discover fun workout videos to try online.
  • Other Non-Essential Spending

    • Using rideshare for non-essential trips = $96.11
    • Subscription Boxes = $93.96
    • Online shopping for non-essentials = $84.11
    • Paid apps = $23.24
    • Streaming services for movies/TV = $23.09
    • Streaming services for music = $22.41
    • Coffee = $20.25
    • Bottled water = $17.47