Americans’ Monthly Credit Card Spending
If you were fortunate enough to keep your job during the pandemic, you probably noticed a financial benefit: you spent less. Amid restrictions, credit card spending on fun activities—like going out for dinner—became less frequent.
Looking ahead, the majority of Americans plan to continue at least one budget change post-pandemic, including eating out less (49%), buying fewer clothes and shoes (41%), and traveling less (37%). Of course, the first step in budgeting is tracking where your money is going.
In the above graphic from Personal Capital, we break down Americans’ monthly credit card spending by category. It’s the first in a three-part series that will explore the spending and saving of Americans.
Behind the Numbers
Credit card spending is based on anonymized data from Personal Capital users, who tend to have a higher-than-average net worth. For this particular subset of users, people had an average net worth of $1.3 million and a median net worth of $405,000. Therefore, the credit card spending amounts may be higher than those of the general U.S. population.
It’s also worth noting that the data reflects credit card spending only. It does not include expenses such as mortgage or rental payments, which are typically paid through other methods.
Credit Card Spending by Category
Here’s a breakdown of monthly credit card spending, based on averaged data from November 2020 to October 2021.
|Category||Monthly Spend||% of Monthly Spend|
Users with no transactions in a particular category were excluded from the average spending amounts. Data is statistically weighted by age to ensure accurate and reliable representation of the total U.S. population, 20 years of age and older.
As border restrictions ease, Americans are spending the most on travel. In fact, 83% of Americans say they are excited to plan a trip in a post-pandemic world. The most popular merchant within travel is Airbnb, followed by airlines such as Delta and United as air travel recovers from its pandemic slump. However, this recovery could be in jeopardy amid fresh concerns over the Omicron variant.
Travel is closely followed by general merchandise, at places like Amazon, Costco, Walmart, and Target. Monthly spending in this category has averaged at $815 over the last year. Of course, this could climb even higher near year-end due to the holiday spending boom typically seen in the U.S. every year.
On the other hand, Americans spend the least on online services (such as Google and Facebook), entertainment, and gas. Though the average monthly spending on gas was the lowest of all categories, it increased by 60% from November 2020 to October 2021. This is likely due to gas being one of the categories hit hardest by inflation, along with increased travel.
Turning Reduced Spending Into Savings
With the swipe of a credit card, it can be easy to underestimate how quickly eating out and online shopping add up. However, by taking a closer look at your credit card spending, you can get a sense of where your money is going.
Like most Americans, you may also decide to carry over at least one budget change post-pandemic. What do Americans want to do with the extra cash? Over half plan to put it towards savings, and 16% aim to contribute more to retirement savings or investments.
In Part 2 of the Americans’ Spending and Saving series, we’ll break down Americans’ financial assets by age.
Retirement Spending: How Much Do Americans Plan to Spend Annually?
Retirement expenses can vary significantly from person to person. In this graphic, we show the range of expected retirement spending.
Americans’ Expected Annual Retirement Spending
Planning for retirement can be a daunting task. How much money will you need? What will your retirement spending look like?
It varies from person to person, based on factors like your health, outstanding expenses, and desired lifestyle. One helpful trick is to break it down into how much you estimate you’ll spend each year.
In this graphic from Personal Capital, we show the expected annual retirement spending of Americans. It’s the last in a three-part series that explores Americans’ spending and savings.
The Range of Retirement Spending
To determine how much people expect to spend, we used anonymized data from users of Personal Capital’s retirement planning tool. It’s worth noting that these users are proactive regarding financial planning. They also have a median net worth of $829,000 compared to the $122,000 median net worth of the U.S. population overall.
Here is the range of expected annual retirement spending.
|Expected Annual Retirement Spending||Percent of People|
Users are a mix of single individuals and people in a relationship. In all cases, expected retirement spending is what the household expects to spend annually.
The most commonly-cited expected spending amount is $60,000. Interestingly, this is roughly in line with what Americans spend annually on their credit cards. This suggests that people may be using their current bills to help gauge their future retirement spending.
Median spending, or the middle value when spending is ordered from lowest to highest, falls at $70,000. However, average spending is a fair amount higher at $100,000. This is because the average is calculated by adding up all the expected retirement spending amounts and dividing by the total number of users. Higher expected spending amounts, some in excess of $300,000 per year, skew the average calculation upwards.
Of course, given their higher net worth, it’s perhaps not surprising that many Personal Capital users expect to spend larger amounts in retirement. How does this compare to the general population? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans age 65 and older spend about $48,000 per year on average.
Chances of Retirement Success
Once you’ve determined how much you’ll spend in retirement, your next step may be to wonder if your savings are on track. Based on an assessment of Personal Capital retirement planner users, here is the breakdown of people’s chance of success.
The good news: more than half of people have an 80% or better chance of meeting their retirement spending goals. This means they have sufficient financial assets and are contributing enough, regularly enough, to meet their expected spending amount. The not so good news: one in five people has a less than 50% chance of meeting their goals.
This problem is even more troublesome in the overall U.S. population. Only 50% of people have a retirement account, and the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College estimates half of today’s workers are unprepared for retirement.
Setting Your Own Retirement Spending Goals
While seeing the goals of others is a starting point, your annual retirement spending will be very specific to you. Not sure where to start?
Financial planners typically recommend that you should plan on needing 70-80% of your pre-retirement income in retirement. This is because people generally no longer have certain expenses, such as commuting or childcare costs, when they retire. However, keep in mind your expenses could be higher if you still have a mortgage, encounter unforeseen medical expenses, or want to splurge on things like travel when you retire.
It requires some upfront planning, but being realistic about your retirement spending can give you confidence in your financial future.
Navigating Market Volatility: Why ETFs Are Critical Tools
Historically, the trading volume of ETFs has spiked during market volatility. We explore why ETFs are preferred by institutional investors.
Download the ETF Snapshot for free.
Why ETFs Are Critical Tools During Market Volatility
Investors experienced record-breaking volatility in 2020. During COVID-19 market turbulence, the CBOE Volatility index surpassed the previous peak seen in 2008.
In this infographic from iShares, we explore how ETFs rose in popularity during this time—and the characteristics that make them particularly useful during market volatility. It’s the first in a five-part series covering key insights from the ETF Snapshot, a comprehensive report on how institutional investors manage volatility.
To assess how institutional investors navigated this volatility, Institutional Investor published a report in 2021 based on a survey of 766 decision makers. Respondents were from various types of organizations, firm sizes, and regions.
For instance, here is how responses broke down by location:
- 21% Asia Pacific
- 36% North America
- 29% Europe, Middle East and Africa
- 14% Latin America
Here’s what the survey found.
Rebalancing During Market Volatility
In total, 90% of institutional investors said they rebalanced their portfolios between the first and third quarter of 2020. How did they do it?
Among all financial tools, ETFs were the most popular vehicle for rebalancing. For instance, ETFs were used by 70% of investors globally, compared to the 51% who used mutual funds or derivatives.
The popularity of ETFs was evident in market activity. From January to March 2020, ETFs as a proportion of total equity trading volume increased.
|January 2020||February 2020||March 2020|
|ETF trading volume||$95B||$136B||$240B|
|ETF as % of equity volume||26%||27%||36%|
Based on an average of daily values. Reflects all listed U.S. ETFs across all asset classes.
This trend is true historically as well, as ETF trading volume has typically spiked during periods of volatility.
Want more institutional insights into ETFs?
Download The ETF Snapshot for free.
The Attributes Driving ETF Usage
Why are ETFs preferred by institutional investors? They offer three key characteristics:
- Liquidity: ETFs make it much simpler to buy and sell large portfolios instantly, instead of trading individual securities.
- Transparency: Among multi-asset managers, transparency of holdings is the top reason for using ETFs. A clear holdings breakdown helps these managers achieve exposures to particular asset classes, sectors, and styles.
- Efficiency: ETFs can be traded quickly. They typically also have lower transaction costs relative to the underlying basket of securities.
Based on these key benefits, ETFs were an invaluable tool during extreme market volatility.
ETFs are also poised to help institutional investors navigate the market going forward. Globally, 65% of institutional investors plan to increase their use of ETFs in the future.
In fact, this is already coming to fruition. As of September 2021, the average daily trading volume of ETFs was up more than 5% compared to 2020.
Evidently, ETFs play a critical part in helping institutional investors achieve their goals.
Download the ETF snapshot for free.
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