The average American spends $1,500 a month on non-essential items

May 15, 2019, 3:14 PM
Shopping for non-essential items...
The average American spends $18,000 a year on non-essential items, a new study says. (Photo: The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Hyosub Shin, File)
(Photo: The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Hyosub Shin, File)

A latte on the way to work: $3.65. A lunch break at Chipotle Mexican Grill: $7.50. Ordering in pizza when you don’t have the energy to cook: $10. A Netflix subscription to help you wind down: $12.99.

They’re all small costs, but if a new study by Ladder can believed, they add up to a lot more than we might think.

By the end of each month, the group says, the average American has spent $1,497 on non-essential items.

What are non-essential items?

Spending on non-essential items

How the average American’s budget adds up, according to the study. (Source: Ladder)

You wouldn’t be alone if you said that number seems a bit high — but there’s a lot of little things involved in that huge number.

The bulk of it comes from food, with Americans every month spending $209.38 on dinners out, another $173.62 on lunches, another $177.88 on takeout, and yet another $188.68 just on drinks – not to mention runs to the convenience store.

Just sticking to grocery stores, it seems, would save Americans more than $9,000 every year.

Then there’s the $90.57 spent on cable by Americans who, apparently, are unaware that the internet exists — or the $93.96 spent on subscription boxes by Americans who, apparently, are a little too aware.

Meanwhile, a massive $415.74 each month is put toward almost everything else – grooming, online shopping, gym memberships, music, and streaming movies online.

Then there’s the impulse purchases – and as Dave & Dujanovic listeners made all too clear when they called into the show with their stories, those purchases can get out of control.

Our listeners called in and shared some of the craziest impulse buys they’ve ever made, including:

  • A brand new Harley Davidson
  • A $600 couch that didn’t fit in the house
  • A Jaguar sports car

Not that hosts Dave & Dujanovic are beyond reproach. Debbie Dujanovic admits that she bought a brand new Chevy Camaro on an impulse, then tried to get away with it by telling her husband it was his 30th birthday present.

Dave Noriega admits that he once bought his family tickets to a football game at $1,000 for the tickets — and he says it was “the worst game ever.”

It’s probably not a coincidence that, according to another study by NFCC, 61 percent of Americans don’t keep a budget – and two out of five of us have never even tried.

In a time when we’re struggling to pay student loans and put down payments on houses, a little careful budgeting could open up as much as $18,000 every year.

The $1,000 Challenge

KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic are calling on all of their listeners to take the $1,000 Challenge and become one of the just two in five Americans who have $1,000 ready in savings for an emergency.

Every Monday through Thursday from nine to noon, they’ll be sharing tips and tricks to build up that $1,000 buffer – and every Thursday, they’ll be doing something that will make a huge difference in some of their listeners’ lives.

Tune in to KSL Newsradio 102.7 FM / 1160 AM on Thursday, May 16th from 9 a.m. to noon to find out what it is.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon on KSL Newsradio. Users can find the show on the KSL Newsradio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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The average American spends $1,500 a month on non-essential items