The first step towards controlling your spending is to know what you spend. The main purpose of this calculator is to give you an idea of how much different households spend on these different types of fun: Entertainment, travel/vacation, and restaurants. With just a few questions, the calculator gathers your information (and spouse’s, if applicable), then based on the national spending data, the calculator estimates the amount spent on each category by ‘people like you’ in terms of three hypothetical personas: Budgeting Ninja, Average Joe/Josephine, and Spends Like Gatsby. You can select a persona you relate to as a reference point for comparison.
Based on your income, age, marital status and gender, we collected national spending data and calculated how much they spend on each category. Since people spend differently on fun, we created three personas that represent three different types of spenders.
BUDGETING NINJA is the most budget conscious of the three personas and it represents the 25th percentile of peers. That means if you spend like a Budgeting Ninja, 3 out of 4 households like yours spend more than you on entertainment, travel/vacation, and restaurants.
AVERAGE JOE/JOSEPHINE represents the median household of peers. That means if you spend like him or her, 2 out of 4 households like yours spend more than you on entertainment, travel/vacation, and restaurants.
SPENDS LIKE GATSBY tends to be the least budget conscious of the three personas and it represents the 75th percentile of peers. That means if you spend like a Gatsby, only 1 out of 4 households like yours spend more than you on entertainment, travel/vacation, and restaurants.
The data on fun spending used in our analysis is based on 2013 and 2014 Consumer Expenditure Survey (CEX) by Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). From the survey, we aggregate the spending on restaurant, food take-out and beverages, to derive the amount spent on the restaurants category. Entertainment and travel are standalone spending categories in the survey that require no aggregation.
The calculations are done in the following five-step process:
First, the calculator collects your answers to our questions: Age, income, gender, marital status, spouse’s age and income (if applicable).
Second, based on that information, the calculator matches you to the most comparable person like you. In order to provide a better idea of what people like you spend and still be statistically significant, we divide the aggregated data into 60 groups. The peers are divided by household income level, household age range, marital status and the gender of the primary respondent. The division criteria are as follows: Household income: $50,000 - $80,000; $80,000 - $120,000; $120,000 - $200,000; $200,000 and $500,000; Household age: 20 – 34; 35 – 44; 45 – 54; 55 – 64; 65 – 74; Marital status: single-person household and non-single household; Gender: male and female.
Third, we calculate how much each household spends in each category based on a percentage of pre-tax household income.
Fourth, we pick the 25th, 50th and 75th percentile spending percentages to represent the three personas.
Finally, we multiply the percentage spending from the comparable population to your household income to estimate the corresponding amounts for each category and persona.
The estimates presented are not meant to be a guidance or recommendation of any sort. While some overall budgeting guidelines are helpful, we fully acknowledge that people spend differently on fun, entertainment and leisure.
The CEX data, although nationally representative, is still a survey based dataset. Households with annual income lower than $50,000 are excluded in the analysis of fun spending, because their annual spending tends to be greater than total income in the CEX survey. According to the frequently asked questions from official BLS website, this is due to the multiple imputations that BLS conducts on the pertinent income fields, due to the lack of responses to income questions in the survey. Generally speaking, the survey responses are either very few or rather unreliable outside the household income ranges $50,000-$500,000 and ages 21-74.
For these reasons, the calculator and its results will have very limited applicability outside the income range of $50,000-$500,000 and ages 21-74. If your age or income falls outside these ranges, your inputs will be mapped to the nearest comparable category.
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