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How spending priorities change as you age

The more you know about how your spending habits change as you get older the better able you may be to cut spending.

A recent report on nondurable expenses[1] (clothing and food are examples of nondurable goods which doesn't include cars, appliances, health insurance and education spending) finds that spending rises steadily from young adulthood into middle age before falling steadily.

Age 25

Spending is still relatively low in young adulthood, especially on housing and utilities. However, young adults may want to curb spending at bars and clubs, as it usually peaks at age 25.

Age 40

Skipping ahead to age 40, spending increases steadily from age 25 but is still well below its upcoming peak. Peak spending on clothes, along with increased spending on housing, utilities, sports, movies and travel accounts for a great deal of the increase. If you are at or nearing 40, beware of potentially sharp increases in spending over the next decade and a half.

Age 55

Overall spending peaks just before age 55 and then starts to dip. Around this age, the likelihood of earning a high income, in general, begins to decrease, so spending on dining out, gasoline and clothing begins to drop.

In addition to looking forward to upcoming savings on those items, this age group may want to look at cutting items for which spending reaches its peak—sports, movies, travel and tobacco.

Age 70

While overall spending continues to gradually drop, it's still higher than in young adulthood or even age 40. Housing and utilities spending remains high but the drop in dining out, gasoline and clothing expenses continues, along with a plunge in sports, movie and travel expenses.

Spend less. Save more.

How much are you spending?

Controlling your spending is a great way to save more for your retirement.

Challenge yourself to get on track

Consider contributing at least 10% of your pay to your employer-sponsored retirement plan.

Make catch-up contributions

If you're over 50 (potentially in your peak spending years) learn about catch-up contributions.



[1]
Deconstructing Life Cycle Expenditure by Mark Aguiar and Erik Hurst, Journal of Political Economy, The University of Chicago, 2013.

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