Standards for Living Expenses

If you’re trying to scale back your spending and live within your means or just save a little more each month, how do you determine reasonable spending amounts for each category of spending in your life like food, clothes, and transportation? Well, there are several government standards that you can use as a guideline.

The Internal Revenue Service has a set of standards for living expenses that it uses with people who are repaying delinquent taxes. Those filing Chapter 13 bankruptcy, the kind of bankruptcy where you gradually repay your debts, are allowed the same amounts by the U.S. Department of Justice. So it would seem safe to say that these amounts represent at least a bare minimu


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4 Responses to Standards for Living Expenses

  1. Joan says:

    The healthcare allowance seems incredibly low. Looks like there is a typo for 2 person housekeeping supplies.

  2. Monkey Mama says:

    As I Read the first few lines I Was ready to protest. An IRS standard is kind of crazy for those of us in expensive areas.

    Then I read on. $752/month groceries for FOUR people? $72/month for housekeeping supplies? Good lord. Any frugal minded person, anywhere, can do far better than that!

    The regional statistics were far more meaningful though. (Generous where we live; not really enough for where we used to live – but much more reasonable).

    The food stamp thing is interesting. I try to keep an open mind because someone on food stamps probably does not have the times, skills or tools for home cooked meals. But it really should be a part of the program (learning the skills; finding the time). The “thrifty food plan”, just a national average, was $600/month for a family of 4. In comparison, we eat pretty darn well on $450/month, in an expensive zip code. I wouldn’t describe our food menu as particularly thrifty, really.

    Anyway, kind of interesting.

    BTW, I didn’t even really look at the transportation standards because we have always been well below – driving used cars. But I totally understand the expensive LA transit. I used to live and work right by light rail – for about 2 years (California). It was far cheaper to DRIVE. The transit is expensive here and not terribly useful.

  3. Fanny says:

    I can understand the standard for public transportation. In the SF Bay Area, it can cost around $7 – $8/day to commute on the light rail system. If you live in San Francisco and have to take the bus also to get to the light rail stop, it’s $45 for the monthly pass. So that would be around $200/month for public transportation a month.

  4. JB says:

    Maybe the National Standards for Car Ownership Costs includes a car payment AND car insurance? Otherwise, it seems really high.

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