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How to Calculate Your Living Expenses

Do you know how much you spend on your daily living expenses? What is the cost of your transportation, clothes, and food? Your credit card debt elimination process has a major role to play in determining how much you have left for such expenses. So how do you really calculate your living expenses? Our debt counselors have the answers.

Knowing how to calculate your living expenses is fundamental for personal finance.

Knowing how to calculate your living expenses is fundamental for personal finance.

How to Calculate Your Living Expenses

There are a variety of factors that consumers should take into account to calculate your living expenses. It is important to be aware of all your monthly expenses to ensure you are living within your means.  Let’s look at different expenses to consider.


Be aware of how much money you are taking home after tax deductions. These include Social Security, Medicare, and state and federal taxes. This information helps you 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.


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%, transportation 10%, food 15%, debt 10%, savings 10%, and utilities 10%. Our community spending guidelines outline all the recommended spending categories.


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. Debt management is a key part of learning how to calculate your living expenses.


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. To lessen these costs, consider living with a roommate or finding an apartment where utilities are included in the rent.

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.


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. 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.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today. 


Dilini is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. To anyone, managing finances can be a real challenge! Any tips and tricks to help get through this are great! Dilini will share her experiences, tips, and tricks along the way through the Talking Cents blog. Stay tuned!

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