What Americans Spend Money On That Other Countries Don’t

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I dislike wasting money, and I’m sure I’m not alone when I say this.

Although wasting money might make most of us feel a bit queasy, Americans waste billions of dollars each year on frivolous purchases or on items that provide no real value in our lives.

Spending habits of Americans include buying junk food, paying fines, and taking our chances at the casino.

When you compare what Americans spend money on to what people in other countries spend money on, it’s a bit sickening.

For example, Americans are spending the least amount on food compared to the UK, Japan, and Canada. We’re spending the most on housing, though, which might suggest that our housing market is still over-inflated.


Spending money on food in the US differs from other countries considerably. The average American household spends just 7 percent of its budget on food, compared to more than 40 percent of the budget for an Egyptian household or 15 percent of the budget for a family in Japan.

While we’re not spending money on food made at home, we are spending a lot on food from restaurants as well as on what your mother and mine would call junk food.

In 2010, the spending habits of Americans included $29 billion on candy and $76 billion on soda, according to “Business Insider.” That’s a lot of cash, a lot of sugar, and not a lot of nutrition.


As a country, we spend an awful lot of money on waste. We might not spend much on food, but wasted food and wasted energy are what Americans spend money on. Wasted energy costs us around $146 billion each year while food we end up tossing away costs a collective $165 billion.

$165 billion in wasted food averages out to $529 per person in the US, according to “Business Insider.” You can buy or save a lot with $529, but instead we’re throwing it away.


Everyone wants to get rich, and in the US, it seems getting rich is just a scratch ticket or a lucky night at the casino away. Americans spent nearly $60 billion on lottery tickets in 2010.

While some people did get lucky and win, the average payout was just 47 cents for every dollar spent, which means we tossed away $31 billion on the lottery.

Casino spending also paints a bleak picture of our spending habits. In 2010, casinos in the US had gross revenues of more than $125 billion.

Of course, some people could have won back their gambling money or won more than what they gambled originally.

If more than 40 percent of people recouped their playing money, that still means that Americans lost around $70 billion at the tables or slot machines.

Fines and Fees

As a country, we seem to love paying fines or fees. Take ATMs, for example: in 2010, Americans spent $7 billion in tacked-on ATM fees. That’s a lot of money to pay for a service you can get for free.

Another popular fine for Americans to pay is traffic tickets. In our hurry to get where we are going, we’re willing to pay billions per year in ticket costs for parking or speeding.

According to the National Motorists Association, Americans can spend up to $15 billion per year in tickets.


The spending habits of Americans look a little more responsible when you take a look at housing. Although, we still spend more on housing than most other countries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend nearly 30 percent of their income on housing. People in Japan and Canada spend around 21 percent of their income on housing, while those in the UK spend around 24 percent of their income on housing.

Getting Around

When it comes to transportation, Americans are surprisingly not spending huge amounts of money. It’s more costly to travel by car in Canada than it is here.

Still, we’re spending more on transportation than our neighbors across the pond or people in Japan. Japanese people spend less than 10 percent of their income on transportation while the average American spends just over 17 percent.

Canadians spend more than 20 percent of their income on transportation, in part because the cost of gasoline is higher there than it is here.

Where does your money go each month?

“What Americans Spend Money On That Other Countries Don’t” was written by Kelly Anderson. 


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