How We Spend Our Money

How We Spend Our Money

The price of food is rising. This typically happens every winter, but it seems more noticeable this year.

Whether it is in the form of a good day of fishing, harvesting the land or a trip to the grocery store, securing nourishment is a biologically programmed trait. So when we hear on the news that prices are to rise even more, it is quite normal to experience concern, especially if we have a growing family to feed.

Yet, interestingly, many economists agree that, in reality, food does not appear to be a priority for the majority of Americans. So where do we spend our money?

The answer may or may not surprise you. Americans, it appears, spend an increasing amount of their hard-earned income on cars, recreational vehicles, entertainment and travel. These, economists say, outrank our shelter and food expenses by a very wide margin.

The entertainment sector is of special interest, for it does not refer so much to grand soirées at Broadway shows, but rather to gadgets; wide-screen televisions, satellite dishes, Internet providers, computers, communication and gaming devices.

According to SpendingPulse, a MasterCard-affiliated macroeconomic indicator that reports on consumer spending in a variety sectors, though Americans’ overall discretionary spending is slightly lower than it has been over the last couple of years, we spend increasing amounts of money on air travel, auto parts and service, electronics, appliances and furniture, as well as in department stores.

So why, might we ask, do we worry about the news of rising food prices when it appears that this is not actually especially high on our list of priorities? We are modern-day hunter-gatherers. This instinct is strong. We are wired to be ever conscious of securing safety and sustenance for ourselves and our family.

In essence, while we may choose (it is a choice) to splurge on travel, entertainment and recreation, we are wired to be forever mindful of the survival and well-being of our species. At a more personal level, however, travel, recreation and entertainment provide nourishment also.

Perhaps as we seek to live more fully, it is inevitable to also expand the means by which we accomplish this. Food feeds the body; travel, recreation and entertainment supplement our diet by expanding our experience of living.