Sunday, May 28, 2006

Contemplating borrower budgets using objective metrics

As listings improve, and borrowers provide detailed budgets, lenders naturally begin to wonder about expenditures and over-optimism -- can one, after all, get by w/just $75 on gas in LA?

My small contribution to the cause, and tackling the issue of grocery and food budgeting, a 4-5 minute google research excursion:

It is not easy to figure out what Americans do with their money. First, you have to ask enough people so that the answers are statistically representative. Second, those you ask must keep tedious track of their spending. Third, the data must be organized into meaningful categories or the details will overwhelm.

Fortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does all of this with the Consumer Expenditure Survey, an annual data collection effort that reveals who spends how much on what. For more than ten years, New Strategist has been tracking CEX results to uncover trends in household spending. The latest findings reveal an aging population that responds eagerly to technological change, but also pinches pennies to cover the rising cost of a middle-class lifestyle. Here are the top ten trends, category by category.
The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program consists of two surveys collected for the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the Census Bureau — the quarterly Interview survey and the Diary survey — that provide information on the buying habits of American consumers, including data on their expenditures, income, and consumer unit (families and single consumers) characteristics.

big pdf for above, see page 3 for nice summary:

Extract for 2004 annual figures for households (or as they put it, "consumer units"):
pre tax income avg: $54,453
Food at home:$3,347
Food outside of home:$2,434

One could multiply by cost of living in a given city, though there are obviously econ/stats issues w/doing so as anything more than a rough approximation.

To be really precise,
offers a cost of living index focused SPECIFICALLY on grocery items...

Isn't it cool what fast typing and an ability to pick good keywords can do in 5 minutes? And keep in mind, formatting this for others took far more time than actually digging up the data...

OK, as my bar-prepping chica stares at me with disdain and sings along to the worst of the 80's, 90's, and today, maybe painful honesty would reclassify "cool" as "lame..."

EDIT: from braillist on Prosper forums:
Here's a U.S. Department of Agriculture site that gives information about how much it should cost to feed a family.


At 5:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

your rss feed doesn't work


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