FROM TOYS TO TOMBSTONES: How The Spending Patterns Of Americans Change Throughout Their Lives


Photo: HSDent

We all dream of a retirement, filled with exotic vacations, fancy cars, and expensive clothes.While some successful individuals and savvy savers actually get there, the actual data shows that the opposite is true.

HS Dent, an economic forecasting firm, compiled Census data spending behaviour and presented them as demand curves, which measure average annual expenditure for a given product over age.

HS Dent’s charts couldn’t be more simple, but we can’t stop looking at them.  They offer an elegant glimpse into how spending really evolves over time.

What are some things we learned?  Well, as we mature we use a lot less plastic cutlery.  But our towels get a lot older and cheaper.  Not surprisingly, alcohol consumption is pretty steady from ages 20 to 70.  And it looks like we do all of our vacationing long before retirement.

These charts require a little imagination on your part.  But the process is definitely a very interesting exercise of the mind.

NOTE: All of the commentary is our own and not the analysis of HS Dent.

Your social life gets much less interesting with age

Air travel peaks before retirement

Eventually, you stop buying magazines off of newsstands...

...because you're saving money by getting magazine subscriptions

Men really let themselves go once they hit their 40s

20 year olds drink just as much as 70 year olds

However, smoking is a bit more volatile

Did you ever notice how hand towels at your grandma's house are really old?

Camping is for you young folk

You're probably spending on your kids early in your adulthood

Your financial situation gets much more complicated in your 50s

We use less cheap flatware as we get older

But as you grow into your 50s, you learn to buy nicer flatware. And you probably use those until you die

The mid-life crisis car purchase actually happens in your 50s

What are men's furs?

Hugh Hefner is single-handedly driving the loungewear demand for the 80+

Presented without comment

Women are at their most fabulous in their 50s

No surprise, but your visions gets worse

And so goes your hearing

This is why you invest in healthcare stocks as the population ages

The guest bedroom at grandmas house was never that comfortable was it

But grandma's garden always looked nice

You clearly get more paranoid with age

More on that paranoia

Chances are you'll be moving into a nursing home after you turn 75

Here's one area where you splurge as you near death

You spend more on this stuff at an old age. But once you get really old, someone else is paying

Hopefully, this isn't evidence that people spend less time calling their elders

The value of a comfortable seat never gets old

No purchase is bigger than a home

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