Here’s how Americans spent their money in the last 75 years


Housing expenses have almost always been the largest drain on American budgets, unchanged in over 70 years.

Between 1941 and 2014, Americans spent money on most of the same things, with a few changes. Housing has persisted as a large area of spending for Americans, as has the food category. However, spending on food and clothing has fallen when adjusting for inflation while spending on education and health care has risen quickly.

That’s according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, adjusted for inflation and representing median spending of all Americans, charted here.

There is one exception to housing’s dominance, in 1941, when spending on food averaged $8,311 annually, topping the $7,537 spent on shelter that year.

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