14 Shocking Statistics About The Things We Spend Money On

As a personal finance expert, I always come across spending statistics that surprise me, make me sad, and some that make me worried. The statistics in this blog post are about the things people spend money, and they may surprise you. But, I want you to be aware of them so that you can be…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 25, 2023

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you decide to make a purchase via my links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure for more info.

As a personal finance expert, I always come across spending statistics that surprise me, make me sad, and some that make me worried.

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. Here are some money and minimalism statistics that will hopefully get you into financial shape. #minimaliststats #minimalism #spending #moneysavingtipsThe statistics in this blog post are about the things people spend money, and they may surprise you. But, I want you to be aware of them so that you can be better than “normal.”

Maybe you will find them so shocking that you will think twice before you buy something, or they may even cause you to drastically change how you spend money.

I do also want to mention that even if you are doing better than the average person, there is always room for improvement.

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 money and minimalism statistics that will hopefully get you into financial shape.


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

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.”


2. The average household has 300,000 items.

Yes, you probably have around 300,000 items in your home, maybe even more.

Count all the utensils, pens, random papers, clothing items, socks, items in your attic or closet, and I’m sure you’ll see that it quickly adds up.

That is a lot of clutter that can clog a person’s mind!


3. Nearly 10% of households also rent a self-storage unit.

If 300,000 items wasn’t enough to shock you, don’t worry, many people also rent a self-storage unit.

We had a storage unit for around six months when we first started RVing, but we quickly got rid of it when we realized that spending over $2,000 a year on stuff that we weren’t using was a waste of money.

Yes, storage units work for some people, but for most people, storage units are just storing things they don’t really need.


4. 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 have the worst credit scores.

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

Shocked by any of these car loan statistics?!


5. 68% of people live paycheck to paycheck.

According to a survey done by CNN, 68% of Americans surveyed live paycheck to paycheck. According to their survey, these households have less than $800 to cover them until their next paycheck.

If you are living paycheck to paycheck, I urge you to try and find a way to immediately get out of this bad situation. Having money set aside as a buffer can greatly help you in times when you need it.

Related articles:

6. 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.


7. The average person spends 12 days per year looking for things they can’t find.

And, every day the average office worker spends 1.5 hours looking for things! Often, an easy solution, like a simple filing system, would solve this problem.

Plus, 55% of consumers stated they would save anywhere from 16 to 60 minutes a day if they were organized, and 23% of people pay bills late and have to pay late fees because they are unable to find their bills.


8. 26% have no emergency savings.

According to a survey by Bankrate, 26% of survey takers had no emergency savings whatsoever, only 37% of Americans have enough savings to pay for a $500 or $1,000 emergency, and 24% had less than three months worth of living expenses set aside.

What I was happy to read, though, was that 23% had six months or more in their emergency fund, which is actually a much higher percentage than what I thought it would be.

How much a person needs in their emergency fund can vary greatly, but I tend to think that six months of expenses or more is a good number. I like to be comfortable, but that number can vary, especially if you have high interest rate debt that you are trying to pay off or if you have an unstable income.

Related article: Everything You Need To Know About Emergency Funds.


9. In the last few decades, the average home has nearly tripled in size.

In 1950, the average home size was less than 1,000 square feet. Fast forward to 2015, the average home size has increased to over 2,600 square feet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

There are many benefits to downsizing your home. You can possibly save more money, have less clutter, spend less time on maintenance, and more.

If you’re interested in downsizing your home and/or becoming a minimalist, I recommend reading the blog posts below.


10. Women spend 399 hours and 46 minutes shopping each year.

According to a survey done by Daily News, on average, women spend 399 hours shopping a year. This annual total includes around 300 trips for food, clothes, books, and more. And, if you add it all up over the course of a lifetime, it adds up to over eight years spent shopping!


11. The median amount saved for retirement is less than $60,000.

According to the Federal Reserve, the average person is not saving for retirement.

The amount above only counts people who are actually saving for retirement, and that is for all age groups. $60,000 won’t get you far, so this is a very alarming statistic.

The median value of retirement accounts for families who are saving for retirement is $12,000 for households with members younger than 35, $42,700 for households with members between the ages of 35 to 44, and it goes up slightly from there. However, for households with members older than 75, the amount saved is just $69,500.

Keep in mind that these statistics only count people who have actually saved anything for retirement.

According to US News, 45% of households do not have anything saved for retirement. This means that once you account for these households, the numbers above decrease dramatically.


12. The average household has $7,283 in credit card debt.

According to NerdWallet, the average household has $7,283 in credit card debt. However, if you only count households that have credit card debt in the first place, that number jumps to $15,611.

And, if you add up all of that credit card debt, it equals nearly $883 BILLION.

That is a lot of credit card debt. Credit card debt can be due to many different reasons, including living paycheck to paycheck, emotional spending, and more.


13. 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.


14. The average student loan debt is $32,264.

According to NerdWallet, the average student loan debt is $32,264, and consumers in the U.S. have nearly $1.13 trillion altogether in student loan debt.

Also, according to the Federal Reserve Bank Of New York, $323 billion of student loan debt is held by those who are 40 years old and older. That is nearly a third of student loan debt.

That is a ton of money. I had almost $40,000 in student loan debt when I graduated, and I still believe that a lot of that had to do with me thinking that this was “average” and that if everyone else had the same amount of student loan debt as me that it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Boy, was I wrong. When I received my first student loan bill after I graduated, I knew I wanted to pay off my debt quickly because having such a huge amount lingering over my head gave me a headache.

What money or minimalism statistic above shocked you?

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.

Like this article?

Join the Conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Budget Kitty

    Wow those are some scary stats. The one identify with the most is the wasting of time looking for things. We are working on decluttering and getting rid of stuff we don’t need and then everything will be where it belongs.

    1. Yes, that’s a stat that surprised me – but not really. With so much stuff it can be easy to lose things.

  2. Wow 68% live paycheck to paycheck. Every time I see that stat I’m floored. I can’t imagine how stressful life must be for those people. A little savings can go a long way. This motivates me so much to keep blogging and hope I can have a small part in reducing this number and point people towards FI.

    1. Yes, that is such a scary statistic!

  3. SMM

    The 300,000 things in our homes shocked me a bit. I’ve been trying to declutter and in the process continue to surprise myself on the amount of crap we have. We just put a lamp a broken playpen and some random plywood next to our mailbox hoping the recycling people would take it but they didn’t. Lesson is once you buy stuff, think beforehand how often you will use it and the extra work involved in getting rid of it if you don’t 🙂

    1. Haha yes, exactly! It can be hard to get rid of stuff.

  4. Renee

    The retirement and savings amounts are shocking. I don’t make that much money, but I do save each month for retirement and savings. I know people who make 2-3 times what I do and they have nothing. I’m also try to pay my house off early…hoping to cut 5 years off a 15 year note.

  5. 300,000 items…. that just messed with my mind.

    Lots of these stats are shocking and depressing. The paycheck to paycheck thing also boggles my mind. I just don’t see how people can live that way. I grew up on the poorer side so I get it that some have little choice, but 68% of Americans are not poor, the vast majority of those folks have a choice. It’s crazy and sad.

    1. Right?! 300,000 items is a ton!

  6. Wow! 300,000 items! That is the most mind blowing stat! Thanks for posting. By the way I loved your affiliate marketing course!

  7. I think it’s total per person – everyone.

  8. The statistic of 68% of people living paycheck to paycheck is so heartbreaking. I know a lot of people think that becoming financially confident is just out of reach for them. They think about starting a side hustle or getting a better paying job but they don’t know where to start.

    I always tell people that you just have to start on something, rather than just procrastinating. If you start a side hustle and it doesn’t work out, then move on to something else. Learn new skills in your free time.

    1. Yes, starting on something, ANYTHING, is important!

  9. Sarah | Smile & Conquer

    300,000 items…that’s insane! I would like to think there’s no way I have that many possessions but when I take a quick glance at the bookcase across the room and note how many little things are on there I figure I’m probably not that far off average {cringe}.

  10. Oh my gosh, this is amazing!! Thank goodness I don’t have 300,000 items and my home is tiny. I also noticed that stat about homes just getting bigger and bigger. Why on earth do humans, especially in the US, need SO much space and stuff? Imagine how many trees and natural resources could be saved if we just all lived a little smaller.

  11. My husband and I are buying a school bus to convert into an RV to keep our stuff and costs lower. We’re even going to add solar panels so we can boondock as much as possible! So excited to pay off all our debt and live freer lives.

  12. Number 1 was the only real shocker to me. Women saving less than men!? What’s up with that? I think in general women are much better at following directions than men are (sorry guys…but it’s true…we still love you though) so therefore that can only lead me to conclude that the reason why women are saving at a lower rate than men is simply because they haven’t been given direction to do so at the same rate as men have. This highlights the NEED for the scores of female “personalities” popping up in the personal finance world. We have to work together and share our knowledge. Each one, teach one.

  13. Wow! 300,000 is a H U G E #! But, I’m almost positive my hubby & I had double that when we combined 2 full homes after we got engaged. As corny as it sounds, the book Spark Joy that I read about 2 years ago has been totally life-changing with our view on belongings. This book sparked us to purge everything we don’t 100% love. For us, it’s a work in progress, we’ve donated more to Goodwill this year than previously. Ironically, have less things actually makes you be more choosy about purchases, which ultimately helped us to accelerate our debt payoff.

  14. I’m shocked that the average home has 300,000 items in it. That’s amazing. I’m not sure how much I have, but I doubt that it’s 300,000.

  15. Chloe

    This was a very informative post, Michelle. Thanks for giving these great recommendations!

  16. These are all great.

    Looking for things… I do try to have a place for everything but sometimes the clutter is overwhelming!

    Time spent shopping – SO TRUE. And probably women, in part, because stocking the pantry and toothpaste tends to just fall on us. I love shopping and getting a deal on items we need for our household but sometimes I wonder if I’m wasting time. Should I pay more and just use Amazon subscribe and save?

    Wasted gym membership. So I had a really cheap membership but even still I totally wasted it. Now I buy class passes for yoga and baby boot camp. So I only pay for the class and they usually do not expire for a year and I always use them up well before then.

  17. It’s clear being average is not something to aspire to!

    Seriously, some of those stats are shocking.

  18. I bought a few pair of Jordan Retro sneakers last year because I could never afford them back in the Brooklyn days back in the 1990’s. I saw everyone else with them and I was a teenager back in the day. Mom was working in Brooklyn then. Bought the Jordans and plan on writing more reviews about them hopefully sometime this year as a means of earning back some of the money I bought them with. I’ve minimized my spending nowadays.

  19. Max Smith

    Apparently, this hasn’t been updated *at all* since 2017, lol. I priced cars recently, a 32k minivan w 5k down was quoted to me as being EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS A MONTH! My credit is spotless, btw. and that was just a hypothetical, because I told him, “There’s NO WAY I’m paying almost as much for my car as my rent! That’s almost HALF my mortgage payment NOW!” I almost said, what is that, 20% interest??

    Also, HOW are you COUNTING 300k items in the average house? Are you counting every paperclip and thumbtack? Talk about a huge waste of time! Nobody needs 60 toothbrushes, as I’ve heard about, but still…

    I think a way to find out what you really need is to go somewhere 2 weeks and just take what you absolutely HAVE TO have. Or, be REALLY radical, like my cousin, and just move and buy all NEW stuff. I don’t know I’d buy junk from Ashley like he did (20k, is he INSANE? It’s all pressboard!), but it’ll definitely help you pare down, as it’s harder to sort it once it’s moved.

    It’s shocking you don’t use your new house as you did your old one. But you don’t.

  20. J.Cordrey

    Good article. Imagine all the items and stuff you bought last year and only touched once, and if you could go back not buy those items and put that money into an ETF or mutual fund, how much would you have it had an average annual return of 8%?

    Back in March of last year I started keeping an exact journal of everything I spent my hard earned dollars. Come to find out through this process I ended up putting away over 13Gs. I saw how wasteful my spending was. There were three questions I asked myself when purchasing items any and all.

    1. Is this a need or a want
    2. Is it necessary to have to survive and live
    3. Will I use this regularly in my life
    4. Do I really truly wants this or do I want to take the money and invest it?

    Mind you have I have two kids and a family to feed and support.

    By asking these questions I ended up investing more money in one year than in the last ten years.