Are You Better Than Average?

Over one year ago, I published the blog post Money Statistics That May Scare You. In case you missed it, here is a refresher: 68% of people live paycheck to paycheck. 26% have no emergency savings. The median amount saved for retirement is less than $60,000. The average household has $7,283 in credit card debt….

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: January 16, 2024

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Here are some other money statistics that will hopefully whip you into financial shape. The average person isn't doing too well...Over one year ago, I published the blog post Money Statistics That May Scare You. In case you missed it, here is a refresher:

  • 68% of people live paycheck to paycheck.
  • 26% have no emergency savings.
  • The median amount saved for retirement is less than $60,000.
  • The average household has $7,283 in credit card debt.
  • The average student loan debt is $32,264.

Since then, I have come across other money statistics that have surprised me.

I do a lot of research as a personal finance writer. I come across money statistics that surprise me, make me sad, and some that make me worried.

The money statistics in this blog post might surprise you, but I want you to be aware of them so that you can be better than “normal.”

However, I do want to note that even if you are doing better than the average person, you can still improve even more.

You should always strive to do your best as sometimes “average” is not good enough for you to live a financially successful life. Keep in mind that the average person is not the greatest with money, and many are wrecked with stress and hardship due to their unfortunate financial situation.

Below are some other money statistics that will hopefully whip you into financial shape. Enjoy!

Annually, an average of $220 per person is spent on the lottery.

In 2014, more than $70 BILLION was spent on the lottery. That’s around $220 per person, including children!

However, in states such as Rhode Island, it’s way above $220, at nearly $800 per person spent on the lottery on an annual basis.

That is a ton of money spent on the lottery.

40% of food is wasted.

This is a crazy statistic.

Just think about it: What if you spent $100 on food each time you went to the grocery store, but when you got home from the grocery store you immediately threw away $40 of it.

That’s pretty much what is happening here.

The average person who takes out a new car loan takes out $27,000.

Plus, the average used car loan is almost $18,000.

To add to all of this, the people with the largest car loans actually had the worst credit scores.

One last car loan statistic, the average monthly payment for a new car loan is $471 and $352 for a used car loan.

The average person wastes their gym membership.

If you have a gym membership, I highly recommend that you figure out whether or not it is worthwhile. According to Statistic Brain, the average monthly cost of a gym membership is $58. Yet, 67% of people never use their gym memberships.

That is a ton of wasted money.

The average student loan debt is approximately $30,000.

Plus, according to US News:

  • Only 41% of college students graduate in four years.
  • The three-year student loan default rate is 15% for recent graduates.
  • Borrowers older than 60 owe $43 billion in student loan debt.

These are some crazy money statistics.

Learn more about how I paid off my student loan debt at How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loan Debt.

Women are 27% more likely than men to have no retirement savings.

I found this statistic on Go Banking Rates.

To change this money statistic, please read The Smart Woman’s Guide To Investing Success. Here’s a quick snippet from that blog post:

“Women face different obstacles than men do when it comes to investing in the stock market. Right off the bat, they tend to have less in savings because women often take time off to raise children. With years of not earning a salary, there is no money being saved and compounded upon.

In addition to this, women typically outlive men by close to 10 years on average. Therefore, it is important as a woman to invest in the stock market.”

What money statistics surprised you? How do you compare?

Filed under:

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Jen @ Saving with Spunk

    I wish more people new about the car statistic. Some of my friends are swimming in student loan debt and they still have new cars! It’s so worth it to drive something crappy to increase your net worth! Thanks Michelle!

  2. Kathy

    My stats….
    No student loans for us or our son. We fully paid for his college all the way through Masters degree
    No mortgage
    No credit card debt….pay in full every month
    Emergeny/reserve fund pretty sizeable and continuing to grow
    No car payment….paid cash for the newest one which is now 9 years old
    My retirement account is bigger than spouse’s but to be fair he has a sizeable pension
    Biggest waste of food is vegetables which I buy with best intentions and then tend to forget

  3. Lindsey

    Yeah I’m sure I’m one of those people who falls into the food waste category. Especially when it comes to leftovers. You would think it would be the easiest thing to eat since it takes no work. I blame leftovers!

  4. Michael

    Thankfully, on the good side of the statistics. I thought people spent about $50 on lottery on an annual basis. For $220, they could pay for their Amazon Prime and Netflix subscriptions.

    The food wastage was a shocking revelation to me towards the end of last year – according to USA today, Americans waste $640 worth of food per year.

    This changed our behavior at home and implemented strict meal planning, it is working great thus far.

    1. It’s crazy how much people spend on the lottery.

  5. Amanda

    Wow! Some of those stats are scary. I had a total fail this week on food waste. I had purchased shredded cheese in bulk about a month ago because it was on sale (checking the expire date when I bought it), but when we opened it this week, it had already gone bad. I should have put it in the freezer. $8 in the trash, but lesson learned.

  6. These statistics tend to make me feel a little better about our financial situation – we’re not the only ones who have made mistakes. And, we’re turning things around.

    I’m also really surprised by the lottery statistic. I felt rather guilty about contributing towards the office pool for really big jackpots (only about $10 per year).

    1. $10 is nothing compared to the average – so crazy!

  7. Jesse Gernigin

    I wrote a similar article a year ago. The issue is so on point that it makes me want to repost this on my blog. It is such an important article and it fits so well into your RV series and really touches on the importance of reducing our spending footprint.

    Great article!

    1. Yes, I do a post like this once a year with new statistics – they always shock me!

  8. Those are a little crazy. The food waste is huge. I would be curious to what it is for our family. It doesn’t seem like much makes it into the trash can. I save all the scraps for our backyard ducks (who lay eggs for us!) There is maybe one small bowl a day, mostly things like fruit cores. =)

    1. Nice! This is what my husband’s family does too – scraps all go to the chickens 🙂

  9. Great post Michelle!
    Some alarming stats actually. Fortunately I’ve never spent money on a car loan and don’t buy lotto tix. I also have a gym in my condo so no additional money is spent on that. However, I do need to be better at not wasting food. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  10. Kalie @ Pretend to Be Poor

    Very alarming! I would clarify that 40% of food in America is wasted, but this does not all happen at the consumer level. Farmers have to waste a lot of edible food that is not “Grade A” in appearance, so grocery stores will not buy it. Grocery stores also throw away a lot of food that isn’t purchased before expiration. So yes, Americans waste food at home by throwing it away, but much of this happens before it even makes it into our shopping carts.

    1. I had no idea! All the articles I’ve read made it sound like the 40% happens at home.

  11. Apathy Ends

    Unused subscriptions or services is such a crazy one to me, people would rather waste hundreds to thousands of dollars are year vs a 5-10 minute phone call. Insanity!

  12. I love money statistics! They definitely help people look at their situation and realize that sometimes the things they’re doing with their money aren’t that good.

    I know I am totally guilty on wasting food though. I have the best intentions to eat healthy but whenever I buy fruits and veggies I find something else instead to eat until they go bad.
    Definitely helps to have a meal plan though, I’ve saved a lot just by knowing exactly what I’m making for the week instead of making multiple trips to the store a week.

    Thanks for the post 🙂

  13. These are so interesting! I think the most surprising to me is an average of $220 spent annual on the lottery. And upwards of $800. We often wonder how so many casinos make it in Montana. I’ll have to look for the average $ per person spent in casinos here. So crazy.

    1. Ooooh that would be an interesting thing to know as well!

  14. Youre right, thise numbers are scary as heck. One article Im working on is life insurance and it is pretty scary the number of people who dont have that.

    1. I’m guilty of that. I keep forgetting!

  15. Josh

    I’m a mixed-bag. I had $60k in student loans & a $27k new car loan. Both of those are paid off and I’ve always paid the credit card on-time. The only debt we currently have now is a mortgage, which should be paid off in 7 years at the latest.

  16. I found the women statistic really shocking. However, even if they are less likely to have retirement savings, I give so much props to women and the impact they are having on the workforce. They sure know how to compete very smartly and be nimble and creative enough to beat a lot of the competition that are out there!

  17. David @ Thinking Thrifty

    Some seriously scary stats there! i used to be so guilty of wasting food until I started making meal plans and batch cooking. It has saved me around £150 a month since January this year. Ashamed to say that I only started to save towards my retirement this year, however, I have put a significant portion of my wage towards it since I started. It’s so important to have a retirement and emergency fund, I honestly can’t imagine not having any savings to fall back on now just 9 short months in!

    1. Meal planning is so helpful 🙂

  18. Very interesting stats. $18,000 for a used car? My last new car wasn’t even that much. Then again I’ve been shocked to learn how much larger trucks and SUVs go for these days. I’ll just stick with my little sedan 🙂

    1. Yeah, that’s a crazy amount for a used car!

  19. TJ

    I started cooking at home recently and it’s been a game changer. I always told myself I wouldn’t save that much since it’s just me, but I guess I just had blinders on. I’ve also brought a few take out meal leftovers home which also saves money. I used to just toss it. So wasteful.

    The statistics are scary, though it’s pretty humbling to read them.

    The used car loan statistic is crazy. I paid less than $18k for my new Civic.

  20. Lorin @ My Story Defined

    I am definitely one to not waste food but fall into some of the other categories. I have been wanting to get a better car as mine is a 92 gas guzzler but it’s crazy to think that for some $27k is even an option. I have a hard time wasting a dollar. Lessons have definitely been learned the older I get and experience. Thank you for sharing these stats as it really puts things into perspective.

  21. Amy

    I am happy to report that my gym membership is not wasted! As a stay-at-home mom, our family membership includes up to two hours per day per kid of childcare. This is great motivation for me to go to the gym, even if I end up just chatting with other adults! (But I do exercise too, I promise!)

    The food waste is something I’m trying to work on. It is mostly vegetables that I get overzealous about at the grocery store.

    1. That is a great benefit of a gym membership, for sure!

  22. That car loan statistic is crazy. A $27,000 car loan is ridiculous. It’s not worth it at all. Use cars for the win!

  23. These stats are frightening … never knew how bad things really were before reading this!

  24. Some of this Stats are really shocking!! Imagine wasting 40% of food when their are people in developing countries dying of starvation

  25. The money stat that wows me the most is how many Americans couldn’t survive if they had an emergency of $500. That is just plain scary. Even when I was in credit card debt and owned a house I couldn’t afford, I still could come up with $500.

  26. Keith@get-out-of-debt

    Here’s another statistic I found interesting… Only 5% of people actually love their job.

    I used to be one of them. I can’t own up to loving my job now but I do enjoy it to some extent. At least i’m not dragging myself out of bed in the mornings anymore.

  27. Agata

    We don’t do any of the above. No debts, no mortgage, no food waste (we implemented the meal planning 4 years ago, and have gone better and better at taming the waste). No gym memberships

    Plus once a week we have a meal like a frittata that requires a lot of leftover food to be added to it, like a few slices of lunchmeat, salami slices, some veggies, spinach leaves before they go bad – sort of a “clean your fridge” meal. It does feel good to know that this way you lower the waste.

    We do the casino date, about once a year. With a very strict rule of 5$, plus a cost of 2 glasses of wine. We have so much fun. Gamble on penny machines, cash out frequently to keep an eye on the total number. And always, ALWAYS come out ahead. Last time we put 5$ in and left the room with 5.35$. It wouldn’t be so much fun if it was more than once a year. We make it sound like we’re rolling for millions, all of the emotions we put in it… haha it is a good way to tame down the gambling needs. Nothing close to 220$ per year. Ouch.

  28. It’s humbling today to strive for “side hustle millionaire” status. If one knows how to do it, why settle for a regular job that holds back your full entrepreneurial potential? Yes, everyone needs a job to keep a roof over their head while you work on your side hustle. That’s realistic. But working a job for 20-30-40 years and never trying your hand at “side hustle entrepreneurship” is robbing oneself of financial freedom. Then you’ll be looking back years later in regret thinking and twiddling your thumbs on “what if.” Not me. I’d rather try and fail along the way up the ladder to success. Is there such a thing as “failing your way to side hustle millionaire status?”