American Consumer Credit Counseling Highlights Six Key Steps to Calculate Living Expenses

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ACCC explains what every consumer needs to know to determine realistic living expenses

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There are a variety of factors that consumers should take into account when calculating their living expenses, many of which can vary greatly depending on where you live.

Do you ever wonder how much you can afford to spend on everyday living expenses, such as transportation, clothes, and food? Where consumers live, their family circumstances, income, and debt all have a direct impact on the amount they have to spend. National nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) explains the different expenses consumers need to consider when calculating a realistic lifestyle.

“There are a variety of factors that consumers should take into account when calculating their living expenses, many of which can vary greatly depending on where you live,” said Steve Trumble, President, and CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “It is important to be aware of all your monthly expenses to ensure you are living within your means. Knowing how much living expenses typically cost you each month is crucial to build a proper budget.”

The cost of living is directly related to where consumers live. According to GoBankingRates, the three cities that saw the biggest increase in non-housing living costs – utilities, transportation, healthcare, and groceries – are Eugene, OR, with a 22 percent increase, St. Paul, MN, with a nearly 16 percent increase, and Nashville, TN, with a 15 percent increase. Other cities on the rise include Atlanta, Denver, and Seattle.

ACCC discusses expenses consumers need to consider when calculating a realistic lifestyle.

1. Income – Be aware of how much money you are taking home after tax deductions – such as Social Security, Medicare, and state and federal taxes – to know what paycheck income you’re actually working with. Don’t forget to include the cost of benefits, such as dental insurance, health insurance, and retirement contributions. Divide this number by 12 to find your monthly income.
2. Expenses – Now that you know your monthly income, you can figure out how much you have to spend on living expenses. Ideally, housing should account for 30 percent, transportation 10 percent, food 15 percent, debt 10 percent, savings 10 percent, and utilities 10 percent.
3. Debt – The majority of college students graduate with some amount of student loan debt. Student debt comes with monthly repayments, so it is important to include this in your monthly expenses. Do not forget about any credit card debt you may have as well.
4. Utilities – Utilities, such as gas and electric, tend to vary in cost based on where you live. If you are a renter, keep in mind the cost of renters insurance, which typically costs around $200 per year. To lessen these costs, consider living with a roommate or finding an apartment where utilities are included in the rent.
5. Cable and Internet – Most cable providers offer high-speed Internet with their packages. Do research and look at all the package options to ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck. Although you may be tempted by the upscale packages that offer premium channels, be realistic about what you can afford. On average, Internet and cable packages can cost anywhere from $130 to $160 per month.
6. Transportation – Transportation costs can add up quickly, especially if you own or lease a car. Gas prices tend to fluctuate, and parking in the city is never cheap. In 2017, according to NerdWallet, the cost of a car driven 15,000 miles per year cost consumers about $8,469. Depending on where you live, you may not need a car and can rely on public transportation. Be sure to factor in the cost of public transit as well. If that’s not an option, consider carpooling or cut costs in other categories, such as food and clothes, to make transportation more affordable.

ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:

  • For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
  • For bankruptcy counseling, call 866-826-6924
  • For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
  • Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com

About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management through credit counseling, debt management, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, student loan counseling and financial education concerning debt solutions. In order to help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loan assistance, youth and money, homeownership, identity theft, senior living and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®). For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit http://www.consumercredit.com/financial-education.aspx

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