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Surprising Stats About Americans’ Spending Habits

TristaFebruary 7, 2020
Does your dog really need so many toys? Credit: Shutterstock

5. Pampering Your Pets

Depending on who you ask, you may or may not consider your pets a possession because they are a part of the family. But in the eyes of the law, animals are still things you own and are responsible for. The amount of money we spend on our pets adds up, especially if you purchase exotic pets and purebreds. In 2019, Americans spent $69.51 billion on their pets. This is broken down into food, veterinary care, supplies and medicine, grooming, boarding, and purchasing. To put things into perspective, this is more than many countries’ entire GDP.

Some people are at the pet store once a week. Credit: Shutterstock

Did Americans really need to spend $440 million on pet Halloween costumes in 2019? And did 30% of the nation need to buy their dogs and cats a Christmas present? We’re not here to convince you to stop taking care of your animals. But remember that these things people spend money on are a projection of what they think their pet “needs” when the reality is that they are just fine with food, water, exercise, and love.

Most boats in America are land-locked. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Boats

There is a saying that the best days of owning a boat are the day that you buy it and the day you sell it. Believe it or not, there are 17 million recreational boats in the United States and one out of every 10 households owns one. You might assume that rich people are the ones owning these boats, but it’s actually a very middle-class dream. Most boat-owning households make less than $100,000 per year. When asked how often owners actually use those boats, only 25% of owners claimed they were heavily used.

Small boats are more practical if you live near a lake. Credit: Burst by Shopify

Even small boats cost at least $10,000 to purchase, and there is a lot of expensive upkeep for repairs and cleaning. It’s not every smart to spend this amount of money on a hobby that is hardly ever used. For example, my next-door-neighbor owns a boat. He even built a huge garage to put it in and purchased a new pickup truck to tow it an hour to the beach. On nice days, he takes the boat out and cleans it lovingly with the music blaring, so the whole neighborhood knows that he owns a boat. But he only uses it to go fishing once a year.

As times goes on, we are losing all of the available land left in the USA. Credit: Kaboom Pics

3. Not Enough Room For This Consumption

In the United States, we only have 4% of our original forests left. Most of them were cut down to make room for land to build houses, stores, highways, and farms. We keep taking away from the land without putting anything back. Many of the goods we are consuming are coming from other countries. Think about how many goods you buy that are made in China, or the food that has been imported from South America. This lifestyle is not sustainable in the long-term. 

Garbage dumps keep filling up as Americans throw away their discarded items. Credit: Shutterstock

According to a study called  “Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth,” If the entire world consumed at the rate that the United States did, we would need five planets to make enough food and tangible goods. As time goes on, and countries continue to become more like the United States, our planet will continue to be in crisis.

Goodwill thrift stores generate billions of dollars in revenue per year. Credit: Shutterstock

2. Secondhand Purchases

In the previous entry, we talked about how bleak the future is if Americans continue to consume at such a rapid rate. One of the only ways to combat this is to buy second-hand items from thrift stores. This will reduce the demand for new things, and it also keeps the objects out of the dumps. Every single day, thrift store chains like Goodwill will cycle through their inventory, and a lot of it ends up in the dump. Goodwill generates $5.37 billion in retail sales every year, which is a tremendous amount of money from reselling objects that people once owned.

You can find some amazing antiques at second-hand stores. Credit: Pixabay

According to the US Census Bureau, only 17 to 18% of Americans will go thrift shopping any given year. So the vast majority of people only want to buy brand-new items. If you want to consider buying second-hand items, but you don’t like the experience of thrift shopping, try eBay instead.

A popular souvenir from Hawaii are those dancing hula girls. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Souvenir Shopping

Many minimalists will try to spend their money on experiences like traveling instead of buying too many things. However, when most Americans travel, they tend to purchase souvenirs for their friends and family. Many of these items can be silly novelty gifts that don’t actually serve any real purpose. According to Statistica, US souvenir shopping totaled 16.75 billion dollars in 2017.

It’s not always necessary to buy a souvenir when you go somewhere. Credit: Pixabay

The issue with souvenirs is that many of them end up in the trash or get donated to thrift stores. So if you want to cut back on waste, don’t get pointless things when you go to another country. Sometimes, taking photos and creating lasting memories are enough.

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