Most people understand that the majority of a person’s income is often spent during their lifetime, particularly for lower to middle-income households. However, the exact amount people send out the door for all of their needs and expenses is startling when you total it all up. If you’re wondering, “how much money does the average American spend in a lifetime?” here’s what you need to know.

Can You Accurately Determine How Much an Average American Spends in a Lifetime?

Generally speaking, you can’t get an exact figure that reflects how much the average American will spend in a lifetime. First, it’s essential to understand that spending levels vary every single year. Savings and spending rates differ depending on economic factors. For example, issues like inflation, deflation, and changing interest rates can cause people to alter their spending or savings habits.

Spending also shifts as a person ages. Adults usually earn less during young adulthood as they aren’t qualified for higher-paying jobs. As they further their education or experience, wages typically rise, which can alter spending.

Additionally, certain conditions impact spending patterns. For instance, having a child can lead to more spending. Reaching retirement and ceasing some savings activities may also cause spending habits to change. And since all of that is impacted by economic shifts, spending can vary wildly over time.

Finally, spending is usually analyzed at the household level, not the individual one. Since households may have one, two, or more wage-earning individuals contributing, that can alter individual spending levels significantly.

As a result, getting an exact figure of how much the average American spends in a lifetime is practically impossible. However, you can use data to get some reasonable insights.

How Much the Average American Spends in a Lifetime: An Estimate

If you want to get a reasonable estimate of how much Americans spend in a lifetime, you can use certain information as a guide. By examining consumer expenditure figures and typical lifespans, you can land on a number that’s based on current economic conditions.

As of 2020, the average per-household consumer annual expenditure in the US was $61,334. With an average life expectancy of 76.6 years – minus 18 years to reach adulthood – you could estimate the average amount households spend during a lifetime is about $3.6 million. If you don’t remove 18 years for a person to reach adulthood, that figure is closer to $4.7 million.

However, those numbers don’t account for inflation or rising wages. As a result, it’s only a general ballpark, as those influences will ultimately alter spending amounts, particularly over the course of 70 to 80 years.

Were you surprised about how much money the average American spends in a lifetime? Or does the number seem relatively accurate? Do you think inflation will change the figure? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Tamila McDonald
Tamila McDonald

Tamila McDonald has worked as a Financial Advisor for the military for past 13 years. She has taught Personal Financial classes on every subject from credit, to life insurance, as well as all other aspects of financial management. Mrs. McDonald is an AFCPE Accredited Financial Counselor and has helped her clients to meet their short-term and long-term financial goals.