How Americans Spent Their Money In The Last 75 Years (In 1 Simple Chart)

Tyler Durden's picture

Consumer spending makes up 70% of the United States economy. We all have bills to pay and mouths to feed, but where do Americans spend their money? Here is a breakdown of how Americans spent their money in the last 75 years...

In the chart above, spending is broken into 12 categories: Reading, alcohol, tobacco, education, personal care, miscellaneous, recreation & entertainment, healthcare, clothing, food, transportation and housing. Each category is further broken down into spending by year, from 1941 to 2014, and each category is given a unique color. The data were collected from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The data is adjusted for inflation and measures median spending of all Americans.

Unsurprisingly, housing expenses have almost always been the largest area of spending in America for over 70 years. The only exception is 1941, when spending on food averaged $8,311, whereas spending on housing came to $7,537. However, in 1941 the government included alcohol in the food spending category, which inflates the food spending data for that year. In the other years, alcohol was given its own category. In every other year measured, spending on housing outpaced every other category.

Another interesting trend is the downward slope of spending on clothing. Americans spent the most on clothing in 1961 for an average of $4,157. In every year measured since 1961, spending on clothing fell, even when accounting for inflation.

At the same time, Americans began spending more on education, transportation and healthcare. Spending on education has increased far more than any other category, jumping from $242 in 1941 to $1,236 in 2014. Education spending increased at a particularly fast rate between 1984 and 1994 and onward. While spending on healthcare increased between 1941 and 2014, overall spending dipped between 1973 and 1984, but then began rising rapidly thereafter.

Between 1941 and 2014 Americans spent money on most of the same things, with a few changes. Housing has persisted as a large area of spending for Americans, as has the food category. However, spending on food and clothing has fallen when adjusting for inflation while spending on education and healthcare has risen quickly.


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VonPumperDic's picture



Where is the money spent on Fake News?

AlaricBalth's picture

I don't see a listing for hookers and blow. Would have spiked in the 80's.

observer2017's picture

"I don't see a listing for hookers and blow. Would have spiked in the 80's."



toady's picture

Where is the skyrocketing healthcare? This is ZH after all...

MsCreant's picture

Comminications. Cell phones are considered necessary now, and plans, lots of family members to get phoned up, too. What category?

gatorengineer's picture

Whole thing is a farce, housing from 16k in 1994 to 18 k today. LOLz....

Rebel yell's picture

It's adjusted for inflation but not really, if square footage is taken into account, it's less expensive than then.

MisterMousePotato's picture

Who the fuck writes this shit?

Per person?

Per household?

Per state?


Whatever it means, it means that "Americans" spend more in a year for housing than I did to buy my house.

No wonder people are drowning.

Escrava Isaura's picture

How Americans Spent Their Money In The Last 75 Years (In 1 Simple Chart)



The Next 15 years the value of wealth (In 1 Simple Phrase) Worthless, Because of Negative Growth   


nope-1004's picture

Is it any surprise that the top two items are both items that have had their asset prices blow sky high due to low interest rates and currency debauchery by the pigs at the Feral Reserve?  Of course, there is a plus side.... that is that you get to have a value placed upon you by the banks to keep track of you via their renowned Slavery Index (aka Credit Rating) so that they can judge what a good sheep you are for their repayment purposes after blowing asset prices beyond anything practical.


de3de8's picture

Talk about a wave top look, this is it

MillionDollarBonus_'s picture

The real estate market is creating millions of jobs though. No matter how small, every town in America has at least five real estate agencies helping people buy and sell houses. If we let house prices fall, as libertarians advocate, then all of these jobs will be lost.

The_Juggernaut's picture



Maybe on the left side of the data, but more and more of this spending is actually credit.  That's the real story.


Manthong's picture

Drain the Swamp….

it’s more like Lake Okeechobee and all the surrounding grasslands  and F’g Gulf of Mexico.

He should let Sessions dive into Hitlery, the magic negro and all associated to them else he will be haunted by them for years.

tbone654's picture

I want to see a category for "Fake Hope"

Dame Ednas Possum's picture

The world would be a MUCH better place with no parasitic vermin real estate agents. 

Sell/ buy property privately. 

Manthong's picture

..last couple of properties...

no agents.. no lawyers.. just do a title search.. sign the papers and fergit about it.

scrappy's picture

HUDSON: Government Debt & Deficits Are Not the Problem Private Debt Is

We can finance Infrastructure at 0 % IMO. We need to insist on no or very low cost public financing. If not, everything will be gone, to the 1%, no more commons, everything private, thatcherism, reagonomics on steroids, a new dark age.

This video tells it like it really is economically. End Financialization. Write off the debt.

That which can not be paid, wont be paid anyway.

Michael Hudson: Donald Trump Wants to Make the 1% Even Richer

(I hope he's wrong)

If Trump does not do the right thing we will see the greatest uprising in history. I am hoping too, that this does not happen. This is not a partisan issue, it is an American and World Survival Issue. We must stand againt this sick evil system and insist that the rule of law be restored. If not, we do it ourselves. That means to reassemble the common law government and grand jury. Prosecute Fraud and Criminal Injury.

Intro to Common Law

Chris Dakota's picture

I bought a house pretty young, I wanted to lock in a rent.

So many people I knew wanted to rent because they didn't want to drive, they wanted to live in a great neighborhood.

Then they got evicted.

My current house payment with taxes/insurance in  3 bed 2 ba 2 car big garage and huge lot is the price of a room in a shared SF apartment.

My house has more than doubled since I bought it in Jan 2012.  It will be paid off in 3 yrs. I could then go to flyover country and buy 15 houses.


But I love California, been here since 1959 and growing up here was divine, the frontier, few people, few rules, far from the Feds.

A place for the mavericks of America.

stocker84's picture

Reminiscing on our time?

You're going to die like the rest of us.

Nobody will care.

The renters? They will die, too.

Who gives a shit?

Oldwood's picture

Glass half empty

Glass half full

Glass broken and destined to swallow a large shard, dying a horrible painful death.

Got to love all the optimism

Chris Dakota's picture

At least I know when I will die.

I will buy life insurance 12 months before.

Envy is a terribly destructive emotion, don't ya know that?

ZD1's picture

Oh look, it's Chris Dakota the old drugged out, whored out liberal San Fransicko hippy from the 1960's who loved California so much that she helped turn it into Commiefornia and the turd world shithole that it is today.

After the next big earthquake, her 3 bed 2 bath with the big garage may not be standing on that huge lot. If EBT cards and and welfare checks stop flowing, Commiefornia's huge FSA will take all of what she has left.

She needs to stay with the spirit cooking crazies in San Fransicko and spare the poor people in flyover country because they've been through enough.

Paul Kersey's picture

ZDI, what's the real reason for your diatribe against "Chris"? It sure as hell can't be about her house. I'm guessing that your anger generated comment is more of a reaction to some of CD's  more extreme positions of intolerance.

ZD1's picture

She's a typical crazy San Fransicko loony dyke who posts some crazy bullshit and she labels anyone who dares to disagree with her as either being a demon or a satanist.

The next big earthquake can't come soon enough.

Chris Dakota's picture

You sent all your fags to us here in San Francisco, the good thing is they are leaving now because they can't afford it.

New Gay Mecca is now Salt Lake City...ha ha ha

Chris Dakota's picture

Admit it, your daughter came to Oakland the Lesbian Mecca because she can't be herself in the South.

Stop sending your gays to us!!!!

Chris Dakota's picture

Fuck off you little faggot Jew!

ZD1's picture

Meh, take one of your chill pills you crazy old hippy dyke. LOL

Chris Dakota's picture

ZD1 posting from Tel Aviv, homo posting from Tel Aviv.

ZD1's picture

I'm not a Jew, not a Zionist, not a Christian Zionist, not a homo and I've never been to or want to go near any of the Middle East sand countries.

Now go back to spirit cooking with your coven.

ZD1's picture

A crazy old hippy dyke like you can believe whatever nonsense you want.

Why don't you get back on your broom and fly back to your coven?

Paul Kersey's picture

Don't know why you got all those down votes. My daughter moved out there to go to coding boot camp. In less than a year, after spending 12k for a 3-month course, she's making over 100K a year, with stock options. She lives with three students in the good part of Oakland, and her company pays for her commute. She loves here life and loves where she lives.

Personally, I've never had the slightest desire to go to SF. I live in the deep south, and the older I get, the less I want to be out in crowds of people (or out in serious highway traffic). I used to be social, but now the only socializing I do is on the computer. I'm good with the simple life, and SF, from what I have read, just ain't that simple.

ZD1's picture

She'll soon be replaced by an H-1B visa holder from India.

Oakland has always been a shithole--there's no there there.

It's built on top of a major earthquake fault line and that shithole city is going to come tumbling down.

Paul Kersey's picture

"She'll soon be replaced by an H-1B visa holder from India."

ZDI, still trying to figure out why you are so bitter and negative. Anyway, these tech jobs are at will positions, and there is a far better chance that the company will fold than there is of my daughter being replaced by anyone. She codes in a fairly obscure language, and there are few coders, American or otherwise, who could replace her. Few people in my daughter's generation are married to their tech companies, and few tech companies are married to their employees. If you are in tech, then you can realistically expect to live a peripatetic lifestyle. Ultimately, my daughter would like to move to Boulder, Co.

Where do you live?

ZD1's picture

She should enjoy that $100K tech job while it lasts--because it won't.

Boulder is an inland version of San Fransicko with the same type of loony leftists--and it too is subject to earthquakes.

Lived in both areas and escaped both.

Paul Kersey's picture

ZDI, there are far more serious things to fear than earthquakes, job losses and "loony leftists". A life lived in constant fear seems hardly worth living. Again, what has made you so bitter, misanthropic, and where is this shangri la in which you dwell? 

ZD1's picture


Who lives in constant fear and who is bitter and misanthropic?

Not me.

That sounds more like you. You're the one hiding out in your little bubble in the deep South.

Why not join the likes of old Chris Dakota in San Fransicko?

You and her sound like soulmates.

Paul Kersey's picture

"Chris Dakota the old drugged out, whored out liberal San Fransicko hippy from the 1960's"
"She needs to stay with the spirit cooking crazies in San Fransicko"
"She's a typical crazy San Fransicko loony dyke"

ZDI, your posts are full of these ad hominem attacks.

Ad hominem (Latin for "to the man" or "to the person"), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a logical fallacy in which an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument.

"Who lives in constant fear and who is bitter and misanthropic?
Not me. That sounds more like you."

Actually, what that sounds like is Pee Wee Herman and Francis playing a game of "I know you are, but what am I?"

ZD1's picture

You said "I used to be social, but now the only socializing I do is on the computer."

No doubt it's because most sane people couldn't stand to be with you?

Ad hominem attacks? Not. Everything posted about Chris Dakota is true based on her numerous mean and nasty ZH posts.

Not only do you sound like a Pee Wee Herman, you probably look like him too.

You'd fit in perfectly in San Fransicko.

Paul Kersey's picture

ZDI, once again, you've come up with more ad hominem attacks, and more "I know you are, but what am I?" rants. I've noticed that in your other posts on other topics you've also gone into attack mode and instigated flame wars.

Again, where do you live, and why are you so bitter, and why are you such a name caller? Is there anyone, including yourself, that you don't hate? Christ said love your neighbor as yourself, not hate your neighbor as you hate yourself.

By the way, just because you up vote yourself, doesn't mean that you like yourself.

ZD1's picture

Ad hominen attacks are non fallacious if the attack on the character of the person is directly tackling the argument itself which accurately describes both Chris Dakota and now you.

Let's ask why are you such bitter loner who only socializes on the computer, where and why do you live in the deep South, and why did your wife (or boyfriend) flee from you? Is there anyone, including yourself, that you don't hate?

By the way, just because you up vote yourself, doesn't mean that you like yourself or that your posts have any truth or validity.

As for your grossly exaggerated ZH post on the subject of "Exit, Hope & Change - The Obama Post-Mortem" claiming that "Trump put the Goldmanites into his Cabinet to freely reign over the whole country," you seem to have overlooked the fact that Donald Trump has made some potential Cabinet selections but he hasn't put anyone into his Cabinet yet because he hasn't even been sworn in yet. There are is only ONE of Donald Trump's potential Cabinet selections who was a former employee of Goldman Sachs and that is Steven Mnuchin. He's currently a Hollywood producer whose credits include Avatar, American Sniper, and the X-Men movies. Only a fool would claim that he will have free reign.

It's no wonder that no one wants to socialize with you.

Paul Kersey's picture

Trump's Goldmanite Cabinit and Advisor choices: Mnuchin, Bannon, Cohen (Trump's Chief Economic Advisor), Scaramucci and Kushner. And for some balance, Trump chose Rothschilder Ross for the Secretary of Commerce post.

By the way, it was Mnuchin who put together the IndyMac deal for he and his partner Soros, that cost the US taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars but made Mnuchin and his partners billions. You left that out of the resume you posted for Mnuchin. Perhaps you are fond of the money changers and financial engineers.

Again, you are pivoting without answering any of my questions. However, glad to see you are stalking me on other posts. Happy to enlighten you.

Are you also a bold name caller when you are not hiding behind a screen name?

ZD1's picture

There's a big difference between presidential Cabinet posts and presidential advisors.

All Cabinet members are are nominated by the President and then presented to the Senate for confirmation or rejection to head federal executive departments.

Presidential advisors are NOT Cabinet posts, they have NO power, and they only serve to advise the president at his discretion.

With Mnuchin being the only former Goldman Sachs employee, Donald Trump's potential Cabinet could hardly be labeled as being "Goldmanite."

Mnuchin was one of a group of several investors who bought IndyMac Bank for $1.55 billion in 2009 from the FDIC after it had failed during the financial crisis. The FDIC agreed to hold on to some of the more problematic assets of the bank, and signed a loss-sharing agreement, that would go into effect if losses would surpass 30%. The bank was renamed OneWest Bank and several other failed banks were later purchased from the FDIC. OneWest was sold to CIT Group in 2015.

Wilbur Ross is hardly a "Rothschilder." He bought out his equity fund in 2000 from Rothschild, Inc. and opened WL Ross & Co with a group of investors. The Department of Commerce's mission is to foster, promote, and develop the foreign and domestic commerce.

Don't flatter yourself thinking that I would bother to stalk your posts because they aren't enlightening in the least.

User name ZD stands for ZD, but ZD can also be an acronym for zero derivatives.

Why are you pivoting without answering any of my questions?

Chris Dakota's picture

Ad hominen attacks are non fallacious if the attack on the character of the person is directly tackling the argument itself which accurately describes both Chris Dakota and now you.

And now YOU are attacking me.

Angry little bastard, you don't even know me.

I don't attack people here, but they sure have flung shit at me.

Fuck all of you assholes.

ZD1's picture

Meh, take one of your chill pills and go back to spirit cooking with your coven. LOL

Axie's picture

1991 — last year that people looked decent.