I'm not surprised that consumers in America are spending 10 percent more than in 2009, according to a study by Mint.com. After reading a recent article by CNNMoney about the spending data, I checked my budget records and found I'm spending 30 percent more than I did during the 2009 Great Recession.
Some of the spending increase can be attributed to what I call rebellion spending or frugal fatigue. I just got tired of putting off purchases and rarely treating myself. But some of it is due to the increase costs of food, gasoline and other products.
According to the Mint.com data, the average household spent about $4,200 per month in the first quarter of 2013 compared to about $3,800 in 2009.
Shelling out more for staples
Consumers are spending 17 percent more at the grocery store or about an average of $316 a month. I am spending about $500 a month on groceries because I shop at Whole Foods and health food stores. I also shop organic and specialty products at the grocery store around the corner. During the recession, I avoided shopping at high-ender grocers.
Eating out again
I recently went to dinner at a restaurant that I only saw during the lunch hours during the Great Recession. I was only willing to pay for the $6.99 lunch special when money was tight. Now, I find myself loosening up. According to the study, average households spent $212 a month on fast food, restaurants and coffee shops. Consumers are spending 11 percent more on eating out compared to 2009. My budget tracking reveals I'm spending about $400 a month on eating out. People 36 and younger are actually spending 40 percent more on eating out.
Becoming more charitable
The study showed that Americans' charitable donations are up almost 50 percent compared to 2009. I have always respected churches and other organizations that discourage people from paying with credit cards or going into debt in order to make a donation. I feel more comfortable about making donations or giving gifts now that the economy is improving. The average monthly donations jumped from $73 to $107, according to the report. I've never tracked our charitable donations since we don't itemize our taxes or receive a tax break for donations. I typically give out of our discretionary fund.
Other areas that where our spending has loosened include furniture and appliances. We put off not just renovating our home, but performing necessary maintenance and upkeep. We went back to paying for the termite and pest control service as well as making improvements to the landscaping.
Even though I'm spending 30 percent more, I'm not making 30 percent more. In fact, my income has decreased since 2009 since I've received both temporary and permanent pay cuts. Still, we are not getting into debt. I think we cut back so much during the recession out of fear that we were living almost too far below our means. Now, we are at a comfortable place where we can spend more without feeling as though we are jeopardizing our financial security.
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