How Americans Make and Spend Their Money, by Education Level

It should be noted that the educational level listed pertains to the person the BLS defines as the primary household member. Further, people in households can be at different ages and at different stages in their career – for example, someone with a Master’s degree could be 72 years old and collecting pension payments, and this impacts the data.

Less than High School Graduate – $28,245 in spending (98.5% of total income)

These contain an average of 2.2 people (0.7 income earners, 0.6 children, and 0.5 seniors)
Less than High School Graduate

The average household in this category brings in $17,979 of salary income, as well as an additional $7,503 from social security programs.

Almost all money (98.5%) is spent, and on average these households are actually pulling money from savings (or taking out loans) to make ends meet. The biggest expenditure categories include: housing (23.5%), foot at home (12.3%), household expenses (8.4%), and gas/insurance (8.2%).

High School Graduate – $35,036 in spending (87.3% of total income)

These contain an average of 2.3 people (1.0 income earners, 0.6 children, and 0.4 seniors)
High School Graduate

The average household here brings in $29,330 of salary, as well as $9,008 from social security.

These households spend 87.3% of their income, while putting $3,113 (7.8%) away in savings each year. The biggest expenditure categories include housing (21.7% of spending), food at home (10.1%), gas/insurance (10.0%), and vehicles (7.7%).

Bachelor’s Degree – $63,373 in spending (68.6% of total income)

These contain an average of 2.5 people (1.5 income earners, 0.6 children, and 0.4 seniors)
Bachelor's Degree

Households with at least one person with a Bachelor’s degree earn $81,629 per year in salary, as well as about $10,000 stemming from a combination of social security, dividends, property, and other income.

Roughly 68.6% of income is spent, with 16.6% going to savings. Top expenditures include housing (22.4%), gas/insurance (8.8%), household expenses (7.9%), and food at home (7.6%).

Graduate Degree – $83,593 in spending (62.9% of total income)

These contain an average of 2.6 people (1.5 income earners, 0.6 children, and 0.4 seniors)
Graduate Degree

Finally, in the most educated category available, the average amount of salary coming into households is $116,018, with roughly $17,000 coming in from other sources such as social security, dividends, property, and other income.

Here, 62.9% of income gets spent, and 17.3% gets put towards savings. The most significant expenditure categories are housing (23.3%), household expenses (8.4%), gas and insurance (7.2%), and food at home (6.9%).

A Changing Role for Education?

For now, there is a clear link between certain types of college degrees and higher salaries.

However, as total student debt continues to hit record highs of $1.5 trillion and as more remote educational options proliferate online, it will be interesting to see how these charts are impacted in the coming years.

In the year 2030, do you think education will still have the same strength of correlation with income levels?