What Are the Average Monthly Expenses for One Person?

By Jacqueline DeMarco · February 27, 2024 · 7 minute read

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What Are the Average Monthly Expenses for One Person?

It’s human nature to wonder how you compare to everyone else. And that goes for money too. For instance, are you spending more or less on housing? Food? Transportation?

The average single person spends about $3,405 per month, according to recent data. But that will vary with where and how you live. Still, knowing where you stand can help you budget better and see how your spending stacks up against other people’s outflow of cash.

Here, you’ll get a sense of how much an average person might spend per month so you can consider how your own budget looks.

Key Points

•   The average monthly expenses for one person can vary, but the average single person spends about $3,405 per month.

•   Housing tends to consume the highest portion of monthly income, with the average annual spending on housing at $1,885 per month per person.

•   Transportation costs can vary, but the average household spends around $913 per month on transportation.

•   Health care expenses can vary, with a single adult in New York City paying about $575 to $776 per month for health insurance.

•   Food expenses can range from $300 to $540 per month, depending on factors like age, income, and location.

Average Monthly Expenses in 2023

Housing

Housing tends to consume the highest portion of monthly income. Using U.S Department of Labor statistics, the average annual spending on housing was $1,885 per month per person. Typically, single people living alone (or with others but paying their own) may devote more of their monthly income to housing than those living as a family.

Costs can also vary significantly depending on the cost of living in your area. That’s important to consider when considering costs and making a monthly budget.

A single person living in a studio in New York City, for example, can expect to spend significantly more than someone living in a rural or suburban community. According to RentHop, the average price for a studio (one-room) rental in New York City was $3,450 in spring of 2023.

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Transportation

Transportation costs can vary depending on your mode of transport (i.e., car vs. bus vs train), as well as what region of the country you live in.

But one thing that holds true for many of us: Transportation often accounts for the second-largest budget item, after housing.

The average household shells out around $913 per month on transportation, including car or public transportation, gas, insurance and other related expenses. A single person could expect to pay half or even a quarter of that amount, depending on their particular situation, such as whether they are making car payments or using public transportation.

And, of course, you can take steps to lower those costs as needed, like learning how to save money on gas.

Health Care

Health care expenses can vary depending on each individual’s circumstances, and can also rise and fall from one month to the next.

For example, there may be some months where unexpected medical costs crop up (such as emergency care), and other months where you only need to cover insurance premiums and preventive care appointments.

Cost varies by location as well.

For instance, a single adult living in New York City can expect to pay about $575 to $776 a month for health insurance (or more).

A single adult living in Boise, Idaho, on the other hand, can anticipate shelling out roughly $274 to $422 (depending on specifics) per month for those health insurance costs.

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Food

Everyone’s gotta eat, and the average single person spends about $300 to $540 per month.

This figure ranges depending on your age, income, gender, eating habits, and where you live.

The wide variability in spending in this category shows that food can be an area where consumers can find savings if they need to reduce monthly spending (such as getting serious about meal planning and choosing lower cost brands at the supermarket).

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Cell Phone

Average monthly wireless fees run about $166 for a plan, which might include multiple lines.

The good news? If your budget is particularly tight, you could spend as little as $10 a month for basic service with no data.

Utility Bills

After you’ve saved up and carefully budgeted to buy a home, you probably don’t want to be surprised by a higher-than-expected utility bill. The average monthly electricity bill was $121 per month recently, but that figure can of course vary.

A number of factors go into utility costs, including home size, where you set the thermostat, type of insulation you have, the climate, as well as what part of the country you live in (since rates vary across the country). For instance, those who live in Utah paid $80.87 a month while those in Hawaii shelled out $177.78 per month on average.

Clothing

The average adult spends about $146 on clothing per month. If your budget is tight, this is one category where you can often pare back spending, whether by shopping your closet, hitting the sales racks, or bringing older clothes that need repairs or fit adjustments to the tailor. A clothing swap with friends can be another option.

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Gym Memberships

The average gym membership runs anywhere from $20 to $60 per person per month, which could be a good deal if you use it regularly.

If, however, you aren’t really using that membership or it’s too pricey for your budget, you could try going outside and hitting the pavement, joining an exercise meetup group, watching YouTube videos, and/or picking up some dumbbells and exercise bands to workout at home.

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Getting Your Monthly Expenses in Check

Knowing the average cost of living can be helpful when you’re trying to determine how much of your budget you may need to allocate to different spending categories. (If you’re thinking, “What budget?” it’s likely a wise move to get busy creating a budget.)

Recommended: Cost of Living per State

These average monthly expenses shared above, though, are just that — averages.

To fine-tune your budget, and make sure your spending is in line with both your income and your goals, it’s a good idea to track your own spending (which means every cash/debit card/credit card payment and every bill you pay) for a month or two.

There are a few options for tracking spending. One easy method is to make all purchases for the month on one debit card or credit card, then, at the end of the month, take note of all the purchases made.

Another option is to use an app (your bank may provide a good one) that can help you log and track your spending. At the end of the month, you can then see everything you spent, as well as allocate each expense into key categories, such as housing, transportation, food, health care, etc.

You can then see how your spending compares to national averages, as well as where you might want to tweak things. For instance, if you don’t have enough at the end of the month to put any money away into your retirement fund, you might want to pare back non-essential spending (such as restaurants, clothing, gym memberships).

The same holds true if you haven’t been able to put money towards an emergency fund, which is an important safety net if you were to endure an emergency such as a job loss.

The Takeaway

Whether you’re creating a new budget or refreshing an old one, you’ve probably noticed how important (and tricky) it is to get your monthly expenses right.

Knowing the average amount people spend to live can help you figure out how your spending stacks up and, if you’re just starting out, help to ensure you’re budgeting enough for each category.

To see how your actual spending compares to national averages, you may want to track your daily spending for a month (or more), and then set up certain spending limits to keep your purchases in line with your income, as well as your savings goals.

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