This Is How Much The Average Millennial Spends in a Day

published Mar 23, 2019
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Turns out, millennials aren’t spending all their money on that infamous avocado toast. However, they are a lot more spendy than all other living generations. According to a new analysis from GOBankingRates, millennials spend $208.77 each day, on average—about $44 more than the average American, who spends about $164.55.

For the analysis, the folks at GOBankingRates looked at annual consumer expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 15 categories: groceries, housing, utilities, health insurance, charitable donations, education, gasoline, vehicle insurance, eating out, alcohol, entertainment, cell phone service, clothing/apparel, and pets. They took this data and built out daily spending profiles for Gen Z (under 25), Millennials (25-34), Younger Gen Xers (35-44), Older Gen Xers (45-54), Younger Baby Boomers (55-64), and Older Baby Boomers (65 and older).

Of that $208, millennials spent the most on housing (an average of $34.78 a day), groceries ($10.89/day), and eating out ($9.36/day). These were the top three spending categories across all age groups, except for Americans 65 or older, who spent the third most on health insurance. Millennials spend the least on alcohol ($1.57/day), pets ($1.24/day), and vehicle insurance ($2.36).

While this may seem surprising, this is consistent across all age groups, simply because these three expenses are lifestyle choices not everyone partakes in.

For example, while Americans are spending an $70+ billion on their pets—nearly twice as much as they did 10 years ago—only 68 percent of U.S. households own pets. Older generations do spend more on their pets than the younger generations, though, on average. This may seem at odds with your Instagram feed—but here’s what I think: It very well may be that a millennial is more likely to spend more on their pets than the older generations, but because fewer millennials have pets (I can only imagine due to lower incomes and busier schedules) their average daily spend on them is lower, too.

This is similar to alcohol expenditure: Since a large portion of Americans don’t drink (nearly 40 percent, according to a Gallup poll), their daily $0 brings down the average. However, millennials are still spending less on alcohol than the older generations, which all spend upwards of $1.70 (the exception are those older than 65, who only spend $1.26.) But this may not be due to millennials drinking less. It just may be that they’re finding ways to save on this expense and prefer Two Buck Chuck and Netflix to their corner bar. A 2018 study from Mintel found that 28 percent of those ages 24-31 prefer drinking at home.

While nearly 80 percent of American millennials do own cars, it’s a relatively low cost per month compared to other costs—$111.63, according to The Zebra, an online insurance provider.

Though millennials do spend more than every group, they don’t spend the most or least in any one category. So what are they spending all that money on? According to Andrea Woroch, a California-based consumer savings expert, it’s most likely that millennials are just enjoying their untethered youth. They’re getting married and having children later in life, so they have more time to go out with friends to dinner and drinks more often than, she says.

It also may be that people generally begin to earn more money in their late twenties to early thirties, due to a promotion, raise, or career advancement, Woroch says. Millennials are finding that, after years of scrounging, they finally have more cash on hand to go out to eat more often, upgrade their TV, move into a bigger apartment, or get a nicer car—something she calls “lifestyle inflation.”

“Consumers tend to spend more when they earn more,” Woroch says. “But if you start earning more, save it!” She recommends keeping your living expenses low—no matter how much more you earn—so you can fast-track various savings goals. This may be the reason that even though older generations make more money than millennials, they’re simply socking away more of their dollars every day, spending less overall.

If you pulled out your calculator to run the numbers, no, you’re not computing it wrong—if millennials spent $208.77 every day, they’d be spending around $6,263 a month, meaning they’d need to make more than $75K a year in usable cash (this report doesn’t include income taxes or savings). That’s well above the median annual household income of $60,336. So how is the average millennial spending more than $165 a day (the median income divided by 365)?

Because this is the average American. Not average as in every day, but the statistical average, meaning that they’re including all groups of people from all different income levels living in different cities with different costs of living. (I don’t have the data set to peruse, but I imagine they did throw out some of the outliers).

To see the full analysis, check out GOBankingRates.

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