Cheat Sheet Q&A

Today’s topic:  How we spend our money 

Today’s entry: 

Hi Brian, I've always been a budget minded person.  Over the years I've made sure that as income and expenses have changed, I've accounted for them.  My goal is to stay on track with my families' long term financial goals.  Recently I decided to break our expenses and savings out into percentages - how much we spend on total housing cost, cars, extras, etc.  I'm curious to know how my family budget looks compared to how the average American household.  Do you have that information available?

Bottom Line:  I appreciate your love of numbers!  So there are somewhat significant differences based on income and geography, with regard to how the average American household spends and allocates their money.  That’s being said regardless of income the top category is the same – housing.  For upper income folks savings is the second biggest category for everyone else its transportation…  But here are the average factoring in all income levels (via the latest BLS data):

·         Housing:  28%

·         Transportation:  20%

·         Food:  13%

·         Savings:  9% 

·         Health Care:  7%

·         Entertainment:  5%

Everything else is under 5% in any given category. 

It’s wise of you to be thinking in terms of percentages rather than set dollar amounts.  To often

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Audio Report:



How wine is priced & the best value range for wine quality and price:

Bottom Line:  Xander Oxman who’s the co-founder of one of the most successful wines clubs in the world, Club W – which features a subscription based wine service for $13 per bottle, spoke with Business Insider about how wine is priced.  Here are interesting key takeaways:


·         The average cost of high quality grapes for a decent bottle of wine is $5

·         The biggest difference in the quality of the wine isn’t the quality of the grapes but rather the process of producing wine from the grapes

·         Super high end priced wines generally achieve their pricing based on reputation and scarcity

·         There is a significant drop off in quality (complexity) in wines that retail under $10 given fixed cost associated with producing a better quality of wine

·         The best price range to balance quality and value is actually $10-$20 per bottle

So don’t feel bad if you’ve had a super high end wine and it didn’t take your breath away compared to a much less expensive wine.  It may not truly be a significantly superior wine with regard to quality. 


Audio Report:


Good news - the hottest days of the year will soon be behind us - bad news - the next two weeks will be the hottest:

Bottom Line:  So NOAA has created a pretty neat chart of the hottest days of the year across the United States historically.  It contains pretty surprising and interesting information with regard to when we reach our average highest temp of the year based on geography.  The range of timelines is surprising.  For example in parts of Texas the hottest day of the year generally occurs during the first week of June.  On the extreme PacificCoast line it occurs during the last week of September.  So where do we fall in South Florida? 

Even that varies quite a bit based on exactly where you live but generally speaking the hottest day(s) of the year occur for us between July 26 & August 10th.  Here is the chart of the country: 

Audio Report:



So just how unusual are the number of plane crashes and deaths this year compared to history?:

Bottom Line:  To be sure the recent commercial plane crashes have been unusual and even to a non-nervous flier – disconcerting.  I was curious with regard to how this year has been playing out compared to an average year.  By the numbers: 


·         11 crashes have resulted in the death of 644 passengers

So how does that compare with the historic averages?


·         In the average year 9-10 crashes result in the death of 376 passengers

So we’ve certainly seen well above average tragedy this year but it’s not as though it’s smooth sailing in the average year.  In fact we’re not near record territory for air tragedy.  That occurred not to long ago:


·         In 2010 32 crashes result in the death of 943 passages


So in context, yes we’ve had above average tragedy but we’re far from unprecedented territory.  By comparison in the most recent year just in the United States 33,600 people have died in auto accidents. 

Here is one somewhat disconcerting stat…  According to National Safety Council if you fly on a regular basis your odds of dying due to a plane crash is 1 in 8357 over the course of your life.  Those are still long odds but candidly it seemed a bit more probable than I’d imagined. 

Audio Report:

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