10 Statistics About The Money Habits Of The Average American

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 people’s average money habits, and they may surprise you. But, I want you to be aware of them so that you can be better…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 27, 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.

10 Statistics About The Money Habits Of The Average AmericanAs 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 people’s average money habits, 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.

Today, I want to show you more because I just find them so interesting!

Below are some statistics on money habits that will hopefully get you into better financial shape.


1. The average American household has $132,529 worth of debt.

The average American household, that doesn’t have a mortgage, is $132,529 in debt. But, if you factor in those with a mortgage, that number goes up to $172,806. This debt includes things such as credit cards, mortgages, auto loans, student loans, medical debt, and more. The average credit card balance alone is $16,061.

And, the average household with a car loan has loans of $28,535.

At first, I thought that perhaps the $132,529 wasn’t too bad because I thought most of it had to have been a mortgage, but that is only the amount for those without a mortgage. Plus, if you figure how much of it is because of credit card and car loan debt, that average household debt is pretty scary.

Many people take out a car loan that is half their annual salary or even their full yearly salary, and that can be a huge mistake. Working a whole year for a car is something that most people would regret if they really thought about how much that monthly payment is actually costing them.


2. Average percentage of budget categories.

Have you ever wondered what the average person spends in each category?

  • 32.9% goes towards housing.
  • 17% goes towards transportation.
  • 12.5% goes towards food.
  • 11.3% goes towards insurance.
  • 7.8% towards healthcare.
  • 5.1% on entertainment.
  • 3.3% on clothing.
  • 3.2% on cash contributions.
  • 2.3% on education.

That’s a lot going towards housing and transportation each month and each year.


3. 30% of American households have a long-term financial plan.

This one really shocked me, but sadly, I guess I’m not really too surprised. Everyone should have a long-term financial plan, especially if they are not retired or financially independent.

Without goals, it’s hard to know what you’re working on, which could make it difficult to stay focused.

While How To Reach Your Goals is about reaching your goals, it all can also be applied towards reaching your long-term goals. I definitely recommend reading that post and applying it towards your life so that you can reach your financial goals.


4. In 2015, the average American donated $5,491.

Now, that is everyone, so if you are thinking about the amount you donate annually, this may sound skewed. However, the average taxpayer making between $50,000 to $100,000 claimed a charitable deduction of $3,244.


5. You’re less likely to budget if you earn less than $75,000 per year.

You’re also more likely to coupon if you earn more than $75,000 per year!

There are many reasons for budgeting, yet it seems like the majority of people still do not have one. I believe that if more people started making a budget, they could stop living paycheck to paycheck, increase their savings, reduce and/or eliminate their credit card debt, and more.

Budgets are extremely important, and I believe that nearly everyone should have one. Rich, poor, middle-class, no matter where you are financially, a budget can most likely improve your financial situation.

Budgets are great because they keep you mindful of your income and expenses. With a monthly budget, you will know exactly how much you can spend in a category each month, how much you have to work with, and what spending areas need to be evaluated, among other things.

Related reading: Why You Should Spend Like A Millionaire- The Frugal and Smart Money Habits of Millionaires


6. 44,000,000 Americans have student loans.

That’s a lot of student loan debt!

I know it can be difficult, but learning how to pay off student loans can lead to many positives, such as:

  • You may finally feel less financial stress.
  • You may be able to use that money towards something more important, such as saving for retirement.
  • Getting rid of your student loans may allow you to pursue other goals in life, such as traveling more or looking for a better job.

I know these things are true because learning how to pay off my student loans is one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made.

Related reading: How I Paid Off $40,000 In Student Loans in 7 Months


7. 10,000,000 American households don’t have a bank account.

That is a lot of people without a bank account. I’m going to assume that many of these same people also don’t invest.

Investing is important because it means you are letting your money work for you. If you weren’t investing, your money would just be sitting there and not earning a thing.

This is important to note because $100 today will not be worth $100 in the future if you just let it sit under a mattress. However, if you invest, then you can actually turn your $100 into something more. When you invest, your money is working for you and hopefully earning you income.

For example: If you put $1,000 into a retirement account that has an annual 8% return, 40 years later that would turn into $21,724. If you started with that same $1,000 and put an extra $1,000 in it for the next 40 years at an annual 8% return, that would then turn into $301,505. If you started with $10,000 and put an extra $10,000 in it for the next 40 years at an annual 8% return, that would then turn into $3,015,055.


8. There are 1.9 billion open credit cards in the U.S.

There are 199.8 million cardholders in the U.S, which means that there are almost 10 credit cards per person. This does include both corporate and personal credit cards, but it still seems like a lot!


9. 20,000,000 Americans own their homes.

Yes, this means 20,000,000 Americans don’t owe anything on their homes or have a mortgage.

That is actually pretty amazing, and I’m surprised the number is so high. I hope it continues to increase well into the future.


10. Two out of five Americans have committed financial infidelity.

For every five Americans with combined finances, two of them have, at some point, committed financial infidelity. And, the survey found that financial infidelity has increased in just the past two years.

Whether it’s secret credit card debt, a large secret purchase (such as a house or car even!), or something else, some relationships do experience these problems. I have heard of people finding out that their spouses had hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt they didn’t know about, a second house they kept without the spouse knowing, and so on.

The problem with financial infidelity is that it can lead to even bigger financial problems, such as debt piling up beyond what’s imaginable, stress, unhappiness. It has the potential to start impacting other areas in a person’s life (such as work), and it may even lead to divorce.

Sources for these statistics on money habits:

What statistics above shocked you? How are you doing when compared to the average person?

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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. I can’t believe the average debt figure is THAT high – and without mortgages included! That blows my mind. Just unbelievable…..

  2. This is really scary! SO much debt and student loans. And so few people are having a long term plan :s

    1. The long-term plan statistic always scares me. Everyone should have some sort of plan.

  3. The Curious Frugal

    Some of those stats are pretty shocking. Especially if they are the average or typical. I’m doing better than those averages and I have learned a lot over the years but there are so many people who are further along on the path than I am. I love learning about money from these people…one of the reasons I read blogs like yours. There is always more you can learn and I find that exciting.

  4. Hi Michelle:

    Fantastic information as usual. I too can’t believe that the average household debt is OVER $130K excluding a mortgage. Yikes!!

    Also, regarding the 44,000,000 Americans carrying student loan debt, for those of us that are docs, the rate has skyrocketed over the last 10 years (average is hovering close to $300K!)

  5. Nilay Engin

    Facts and statistics are useful when combined with explaining a solution or behavior change to a problem or bettering a habit.
    What is the point of this blog post? Am I missing something?

    1. Yes, you are missing it.

      To inform people about statistics and get them motivated to change their own situation. I link to several helpful articles within this article, plus have hundreds of other articles to help readers with.

  6. Some of these are pretty shocking. But even with the bad, it’s good to see that people still donate and are making financial plans. I just wish the financial planners were a higher percentage. It’s not hard to do, even on a lower income. That’s what I’m trying to teach my children, and I hope that the more personal finance blogs and people come forward, the more people realize how important it is.

    1. Yes, I agree! I hope that more people staring planning financially.

  7. Liz

    “You’re also more likely to coupon if you earn more than $75,000 per year!”

    Well, a lot of these are tied to age. Younger people make less and are less tied to couponing because they consume less print media.

    This sort of analysis is much more useful when done by age bracket. It would also be helpful to get percentages. Anything under 18 million is 5% or less. The top and bottom 5% of any population are not benchmarks. Heck, 3% of the.US population is under some form of correctional control at any given time, and around 15% of the population is 14 and under. So 10 million without a bank account seems pretty reasonable, unless you mean of those over 18–that would be helpful context.

    1. Mable

      How old are you? I think you are out of touch or have bought into a stereotype about seniors. I am 66 and I know very few people who coupon with paper ads. Most of us use phone apps.

      1. Eugene Smallegan

        Most of us seniors don’t use those 800 dollar phones, why pay to play games on a phone or watch TV on those phones,

    2. Thanks Liz! I’ll keep all of this in mind next time I talk about statistics.

  8. You might be right, but citing your sources would be nice.

    1. The sources are all listed at the end of the blog post. Or, do you mean something else?

  9. Some crazy statistics! Where do you source the info from?

    1. They’re all sourced within the article.

  10. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    The bank account one is really tricky. So many people don’t qualify to have bank accounts. The fees and minimum deposit rules make it tough when you have low or variable income. I was at a white collar job and was *stunned* that I had to pay to bank, because I didn’t earn enough money. Ugh!

    1. Aren’t there plenty of bank accounts that are free though? Or has that changed over the years?

  11. Very interesting. It is sad that twice as many have student loans as paid-for houses. Hopefully this will flip. Another interesting stat would be how many have 401ks, the average balance, and how many invest outside of retirement plans.

  12. Holy smokes, is #1 serious? But HOW! Without mortgages?! I mean even in the law of averages can’t comprehend that. Did the data researchers accidentally added a zero somewhere? :O Mortgages only adds on $40K so that’s not bad at all! I rather flip the numbers because a mortgage adds some wealth to the total compared to medical, credit card, student loans, and auto loans.

  13. I’m amazed at the 20 million Americans who own their homes outright. I’m guessing most of them are older and have paid off their mortgages? To be completely undone by the average amount of debt which is mortgage sized! Yikes! These statistics had me feeling all the feelings! 😂

  14. Janet

    I’d never understood how some people wind up with so much debt. I’d never spent more than I had in my bank account. I guess I’m more “old school” with my finances.

  15. Paul

    Hey Everybody! This is my first comment here 🙂 Great article, what surprised me was that spending on transportation is bigger than on food! I actually thought this was opposite, but hey, life is full of surprises 🙂 Oh and spending on Education seems seriously low.

  16. I wonder if the budgeting and couponing difference around $75k is cause or effect.

    I’m always careful drawing conclusions from statistics, but they can provide some insight. Thanks for posting.

  17. I agree with the budgeting, which is crazy! I’ve been budgeting for years, even when my income was a lot lower. But everyone I knew that was lower income seemed to just have this idea that they didn’t need to budget because they “didn’t have any money”. I believe people have more money than they think they do, even if they aren’t making 6-figures. Just this month I found a few cracks in my bank account, and it’s all because I didn’t stick to my budget!

  18. This is amazing perspective! It just proves that everyone can do a little bit better with money without being the “norm” in the PF blogging world. I always feel so behind since I don’t have 2mil in retirement funds. Ha! It is easy to start saving and paying off debt a little bit. You don’t have to make a huge upheaval of your life.

  19. Kris

    These numbers are very surprising. The average American household has that much debt?!! I would hope it would have been in the five figure range.
    Wow, about 10 credit cards for each person. That’s a lot, you would hope that they have that many to use for travel points/cash back and they pay the credit cards in full every month(that’s just wishful thinking on my part).

  20. May

    Great article!! My husband and I are on a debt-free journey. Can you guess what type of loans we have left? Student loans! This article is a reminder that we’re on the right track. Thank you! 🙂

  21. Interesting statistics but most of them are presented in a vacuum – for example, charitable giving: Is the number cited “good” or “bad”?

    I’ve been in the investment management business for over forty years – “and I’ve seen a thing or two” (to paraphrase a commercial) over all those years. To wit: Most financial plans are documents filled with unicorn outcomes and completely ignore the damaging bear markets that will most definitely arise every 5-10 years or so. If you have a 401k or an IRA, you are especially susceptible. Having a “financial plan” guarantees absolutely nothing. But, there are solutions . . .

    Budgeting is another area where most people fail miserably. (I’ve seen thousands of them over the years.) Most people really don’t have a clue as to what they are really spending money on. In my personal opinion, using something like Quicken will go a very long way to solving this expansive problem. It also makes tax time much easier, too!

    Just my thoughts . . . .

  22. What?!? Some of these stats are crazy. I’m amazed how much credit card debt many people have. I think this all speaks to how important it is to provide financial education along with standard academic education for our youth. I’m doing my best to keep open conversations with my son about personal finance and investing. I don’t want him falling within these statistics later.

  23. As I gracefully season in life, I learned and saw through a different eye that things laying around my house are worth writing reviews over and selling on Etsy, Grailed, and eBaY for top dollar. I could always use these things laying around the write lengthy reviews about and make money from it, even if I decide not to sell those items. Whether it’s writing a review or selling things, it’ll affect my spending habits in which I won’t be so shopping happy to splurge like I used to and still do at times at places like Macys, Bloomingdales, Lord and Taylor, and custom clothing stores.I’m slowly adapting to new money habits which I learn spending less is better because it’s helping me improvise more for retirement.

  24. Jessica

    I constantly see that “if you invested with 8% returns you’d have…” and I just really want to know where these mythical 8% savings/IRAs/investment accounts are for the non-Wall Street types.

    1. Hey Jessica!

      Maybe this will be helpful – https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2018/09/how-to-start-investing-for-beginners.html?

      You definitely don’t need to be a “Wall Street type.”

  25. Jason

    You misinterpreted the NerdWallet data. (and BTW, a proper citation means not making the reader hunt for the source)

    That 135k average was for people with any sort of debt, INCLUDING mortgages. That average is pulled up by the large majority who have a home loan (roughly 60% of the population). The averages for the other common debt forms is far lower.