Have you ever wondered how your spending stacks up against your neighbors? Maybe you think you have spending under control but since your friends are telling you exactly what they are spending it’s hard to say for sure. This is the fun thing about Bundle. You can poke around with spending data for all sorts of categories and even narrow it down to those in your same city or zip code in most cases. Now, you really can get an up close and personal look at what your neighbors are spending and see just where you stand.
One of the things I wanted to look at was my own personal spending on things like dining out and buying groceries. We don’t go out to eat much so I assumed that part of our budget would be fairly low. On the other hand, that also means we cook a lot of meals at home and that requires more grocery shopping. But I really didn’t have any idea what people in my area typically spend on groceries. Well, here’s what they spend where I live:
Shocked at the Results
The results turned out to be a little shocking. First, I was obviously thrilled to see that our decision to avoid going out to eat is saving us a lot of money. Aside from the occasional $6 or $7 lunch there isn’t much going on in that category. Our dining out budget probably rarely tops $100 in any given month. So, we’re spending less than half in this category than most of our neighbors, which is great.
But where do we stand on groceries since we need to buy food to cook at home? This is where I was even more shocked. $282 seems kind of low and I have a feeling we’re busting our budget a little bit in this area. We generally spend closer to $500 a month on groceries, usually a little over $100 each week. Yikes, that’s nearly double the average.
Of course, if you look at the totals, the average for our area is $225 dining out and $282 for groceries for a grand total of roughly $500/month on food as a whole. Then if you look at our average it’s $500 for groceries and $100 or less for dining out, so out total food spending is not totally out of control. And to be honest, it’s probably a good thing we’re only slightly higher than the average. The meals we cook at home often include things like steak, seafood, and wine. If we were to eat those kinds of meals at a restaurant it would be devastating to the budget. But when you find good sales at the grocery store an know how to cook it’s a huge savings.
How it Can Vary by Location
Ever wondered what might happen to your budget if you were to move? You can do that with Bundle as well. To see where our grocery and food budget stacked up against New York City I plugged in their information and couldn’t believe the numbers.
Wow, can you believe it? The average New Yorker is spending over $1,100 each month on food, or in other words, nearly $14,000 a year. Of course, the average income in New York is also probably higher and I’d be tempted to go out to eat every day if I lived in the restaurant mecca of the world, but that still seems like a lot of money. I thought if I plugged in our income level I’d see the numbers drop, but they did just the opposite and went up to almost $900/month on dining out and $560 on groceries. I think I can safely say that I’d never make it in New York on my income unless I wanted to sacrifice a lot of other things out of our budget!
Where Do You Stand?
So, now it’s your turn. How does your spending stack up against your neighbors? The information is only a few clicks away. Try Bundle and enter your zip code to see your results and then feel free to share them here. I think it would be interesting to see if my readers tend to be more frugal and are staying under the averages or not.
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About the Author: Jeremy Vohwinkle is a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and spent a few years working as a financial planner. Today, he helps people make the most of their money by writing about personal finance here and elsewhere on the web. Jeremy is also Coach at Adaptu and a regular contributor for other publications such as Intuit, and American Express. Be sure to follow Jeremy on Twitter or Google+.