It’s been an interesting year, 2010.
If it wasn’t an earthquake in Haiti or Chile, it was a volcano in Iceland. Prop 8 was overturned in California, we rescued 33 miners who were stuck 2,300 feet underground, and moviegoers flocked to theaters to watch James Franco cut his arm off.
But here’s the most important question: Where did our cash go this year? (All of mine went to rent and daycare, incidentally, but maybe that’s just me.)
If you take a peek at Bundle data for the first six months of 2010, compared to the first six months of 2009, you find something interesting: We spent more this year. In every single category. (Except office supplies, which is — somewhat bizarrely — down 23%.) Maybe I haven’t been paying attention to consumer behavior, but I was surprised that in a country that’s still rocking an unemployment rate of 9.8%, Americans of all ages in all states are spending an average of $468 a month on shopping.
That’s not groceries, folks. That’s $468 at Macy’s, Target, and BJ’s Wholesale. And that’s up five percent compared to the first six months of last year. (This Bundler even admits to spending $160 a year on candles.)
Other surprises? We spent six percent more per month on clothing and shoes, six percent more on travel, and eight percent more on entertainment. Residents of the Washington D.C. area really splashed out, spending an average of $276 a month on clothes and shoes, $80 a month on entertainment, and $120 a month on personal care — higher than spending in those categories in all 50 states. (Perhaps D.C. dwellers date more than average?) The District tops out other categories as well — phone, school and child care, travel, and office supplies. Evidently our nation’s capital isn’t the cheapest place to live.
No one can take the shopping crown from Hawaii, though — the island state’s hula-dancing occupants parted with $754 a month during the first half of 2010. Either they’re all making really great money or their credit card balances are terrifying. (They’re also spending the most on home improvement, by the way, at $275 a month.)
Who’s spending the most money on gas? Oklahomans, who guzzled $230 a month, on average, followed by Texans, who spent $215 a month. Maybe hybrids aren’t selling as well there.
Worried about your utility bill? Don’t move to Alaska, where residents coughed up $440 a month in that category. (Although they also paid less for cable and satellite, clothing and shoes, dining out, electronics, entertainment, and healthcare than most other states. So maybe you should visit Juneau and, you know, check it out.)
It’s not all spend-spend-spend, however. After all, we’re also giving 6% more to charity, and that’s not bad news, right? D.C. locals are killing it in this category, too, giving a whopping $170 a month to a good cause, followed by Oklahomans at $126 a month.
But the fact remains that we’re spending more, even as we struggle to recover from one of the worst economies we’ve seen since the Great Depression. In 2009, a majority of Americans planned to cut spending in pretty much every major category. In 2010, that number dropped, according to Discover’s Spending Monitor. “In 2009, what you saw consistently, month after month, was over half of Americans still planning to cut their budgets,” says Matthew Towson, a Discover spokesperson. “They weren’t comfortable at all with what they were spending. It seems like they’re comfortable now.”
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