Previous Next Popout Popout
  • <p>How do rich and poor Americans budget their money? Shifts in consumer purchasing in the past three decades, as measured by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paint a picture of a growing spending divide in the U.S., mirroring increasing income inequality.</p>
  • <p>Americans, on average, are spending a slightly smaller percentage of their after-tax income each year. Those in the lowest 20 percent income bracket, however, consistently spend more than they make, relying on government aid. </p>
  • <p>Both the richest and the poorest spend a far greater percentage of their annual budget on housing than they did 30 years ago.</p>
  • <p>But in 2012, the latest year for which data is available, the poorest 20 percent spent almost twice as much of their total outlays on rent, as compared with 1984.</p>
  • <p>In 2012, the richest 20 percent shelled out on average almost five times as much on transportation as the poorest 20 percent -- $16,344 compared with $3,447. </p>
  • <p>The rich have always spent more on cars, but the gap has widened, from less than five times the amount poor spent in 1984 to more than six times what they spent in 2012.</p>
  • <p>College costs have soared for Americans of all incomes: <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-26/college-costs-surge-500-in-u-s-since-1985-chart-of-the-day.html" target="_blank">up</a> more than 500 percent in the U.S. since 1985. </p>
  • <p>During that time, the rich have almost doubled the percentage of their budgets spent on education (preschool through college).</p>
  • <p>In 2012, total food spending among the poor ate up a larger portion of the budget than it did for the rich, 15.8 percent compared with 11.4 percent. </p>
  • <p>The poor also spend almost twice as much as the rich -- as a percentage of total outlays -- on food consumed at home.</p>
  • <p>Rich and poor alike are budgeting a smaller percentage on booze and cigarettes in 2012 than they did in 1984. </p>
  • <p>In dollar amounts, though, the poor spent 10 percent more than the rich on tobacco in 2012. The rich spent five times as much on alcohol as the poor -- <a href="http://www.chateau-margaux.com/en/" target="_blank">Chateau Margaux</a>, anyone?</p>
  • <p>Since 1984, rich and poor have consistently allocated about the same percentage of the family budget on apparel and services. In dollar amounts in 2012, however, the rich spent almost 2.5 times as much as the poor on shoes.</p><p> <br></p>
  • <p>As clothes have gotten cheaper, the percentage of spending on them has declined for Americans on the whole: 3.4 percent in 2012 compared with 6 percent in 1984.</p>
  • <p>In 2012, the rich on average spent a higher dollar amount on entertainment, $5,444, than the poor did on food, $3,502. </p>
  • <p>But entertainment costs as a percentage of total spending have remained consistent over time for both rich and poor. </p>
  • <p>There's little class distinction for health care. Spending has risen, as a percentage of the total, by 44 percent since 1984 for the average consumer. </p>
  • <p>Yet when it comes to planning ahead, the class divide re-emerges. The rich spend far a higher percentage of their budget on insurance and pensions than the poor.</p>
  • <p>Here's the full picture of the 2012 spending breakdown: Almost three-quarters what the poor spend goes to housing, food and transportation; for the rich, that figure is less than 60 percent.  </p>