If it seems like you're spending more and have less — it's because that's likely exactly what's happening.
Americans are spending more on typical household expenditures, while median income has fallen by 13% from 2004 levels. In fact, expenditures have increased by nearly 14% since 2014, according to numbers complied by The Pew Charitable Trust.
"An increase in household spending with no increase in income means two things," said Lacey Langford, a financial counselor at Sage Services. "First, if there's no additional revenue and spending stays the same, then the amount of debt is going to go up."
Langford said those households not following a budget will find their spending creeping up if they are not paying close attention.
"Second, the fact that the cost of basic needs such as housing, food and transportation are increasing while income is not, then it will lead to a decrease in any quality of life expenses," Langford said. "There will be no bigger house or car, less money to spend on kid's extracurricular activities and also a reduction in any entertainment spending. "
Even adjusted for inflation, households spent more in 2014 — the last year data was available for the study — than they did in 1996, with the typical household seeing its expenditures grow by more than 25%, from $29,400 to $36,800 in 2014.
"The spending/saving ratio has several huge societal implications, because workers will have a severe shortage in the amount of wealth that is necessary to allow them to retire at a standard of living that remotely resembles their pre-retirement level--particularly if the retirees do not receive a pension," said Len Hayduchok, president of Dedicated Financial Services in Hamilton, N.J.
Hayduchok said he thinks the growing disparity between what people are making and what they are spending will lead to having people put off retirement — perhaps into their 70s — and it will become more common pace to see more multi-generational family living arrangements.
"Children will continue living longer with parents after coming home from graduation," he added. "The four-year undergraduate college model will be severely stressed with more commuter students, community college integration and distance learning."
While the numbers show budgets are being stretched further than ever, it still comes down to the basic spend-and-save dilemma many have faced, said Art Miller, president of Capital Preservation Strategies.
"People who are on a tight budget should discipline themselves to cut spending on unnecessary items - large TVs, smart phones, expensive vacations and expensive cars," Miller said.
However, the numbers show families are not spending on luxury. Nearly two-thirds of spending is going to core needs, such as housing, food and transportation. In 2014, housing accounted for the biggest share of household pretax income — about 25% — with food taking about 12% and transportation around 7%. Despite the large amount spend on housing, it's interesting to note since the start of the housing crisis in 2007, homeownership rates actually have declined among households in the middle- and upper-income tiers.
Perhaps the bigger concern is what this may mean for retirement — something many people already have fallen behind on.
"What I am seeing more and more of is that people who are hoping to retire in the next ten years or so will only be able to do that if they receive an inheritance," Hayduchok said. "More families will be caring for elderly parents and grandparents instead of their resources being used to pay for nursing homes."
Even with expenses — and in some case debt — increasing, people still need to save for their later years.
"After one begins to regularly put money away for retirement — every paycheck — then they can begin to reduce debt like paying down their mortgage and car loans," Miller said.