What Should an Average Household Budget Be?
Your average household budget has to take many considerations into effect. For example, you may have student loan payments, credit card payments or car payments. A household without those obligations would have a lower average budget.
Your average budget also depends on the area where you live. Knowing the averages on important factors such as housing, transportation and insurance in your area can help you better understand the level of an average household budget.
Write a list of the necessities that everyone in your area with a job comparable to yours would have to pay. Include housing, electricity, food and transportation.
Log on to the Housing and Urban Development website (see Resources) to see what fair market rents are for your area. The fair market rents are arranged by the number of bedrooms in the home. Use the HUD-calculated fair market rent as your average for monthly housing prices in your area.
Electricity for similarly sized homes with similar usage and insulation should be about the same as yours. Compare your electric bill against that of a friend to see if that is the case.
Ask several friends--very casually--what they tend to spend each month on groceries. They should have a similar income level and family size as you. Average the responses to get an idea of the monthly average of the cost of groceries. According to the MSN Money article "Take a big bite out of grocery bills" the average American family in 2010 spent 13 per cent of its budget on food every month.
Calculate the average cost of transportation in your area. If you live in a place with a large public transportation system, look up the cost of a monthly pass on the system and use that as your baseline. If you live in a place that is vehicle-based, calculate a month of gas based on what you spend to get to work. Include a reasonable car payment for you area. Talk to friends to determine what kinds of car payments people are making. You should also include car insurance in the budget under transportation.
Add all the necessary expenses together to get a baseline idea of what an average budget in your area could be.
Create a list of luxuries that most people have. This will depend on your area but may include items like Internet service, cable and cellphones. The prices for these are set by the plan you choose, so select a basic plan under each category and include the price of that in the budget for luxuries.
Keep debt out of the average budget. The amount of debt that each family has varies so much that it's difficult to come up with an average. According to the MSN Money article "How does your debt compare?" the average American family had £5,200 in credit card debt in 2010--but they repay it in different ways, with different rates.