Where Bloggers Spend Their Money – Dollar Challenge Results

Who says pennies don’t matter? If you see a penny on the ground, do you stop to pick it up? It may seem like it’s insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but when you think about where you spend the pennies of every dollar, you begin to think differently.

I initially began thinking about issuing a challenge to my fellow bloggers just to see if they would share where they spend their money. The Dollar Challenge Invitation Post was posted on October 22.  I had no idea what I should expect. I figured a few would join the challenge, but it blew up fast! 20 bloggers participated, one in a different language (Cecile’s Piggy Bank joined the challenge in French – I had to use the translator to get the data – how cool is that!?!). After my post, Money Crush was the first one to post her response. Because so many participated, be prepared for a lot of data! I included some cool charts to help all of you readers take in the data first hand (Some blogs already gave you cool charts to look at like Don’t Quit Your Day Job). I want to thank all of those who participated. Here is a link to everyone that joined the challenge. If you have time, these are great reads:


Money Crush
Help Me To Save
My Broken Coin
Change on a Budget
Word Of Finance
Cecile’s Piggy Bank
Always the Planner
Rambling Fever Money
Savings Your 20s in Your 20s
Broke and Fat
Budgeting in the Fun Stuff
Simple Rich Living
Good Cent Savings
Freedom Thirty-Five
Ultimate Smart Money
Money Q & A
Invest it Wisely
Evolving PF

Initial Observations

Below are some valuable points that I took away from this challenge. Just as a reminder, none of this is intended to be judgmental or critical – just personal observations.

  • Personal Finance Bloggers are self-conscious about their spending habits! About half of the participants worried that their spending habits would “throw off” the data. To me, this suggests that everyone thinks there is a standard level of spending for each category. While there was some trends, there is by no means a standard.
  • My categories for budgeting aren’t as universal as I thought! When I initially set up my budget, I knew that I personalized it to fit me, but I figured I had been using universal categories. Oh, how I was wrong. Some participants posted their results in different categories, subtly telling me how difficult or limiting my budgeting categories were for them. **To those participants, I tried to represent your data as accurately as possible within these categories for comparison purposes – forgive me if I did a horrible job at it.**
  • Not all personal finance bloggers are saving lots of money and that’s okay! I didn’t expect all pf bloggers to be savers. The reason this is worth noting is because there are many bloggers that are using their blogs to keep them accountable. My Broken Coin, for example, admits to having a spending problem in her post as she displays her nice boots that she purchased. I think authenticity adds a lot of value.
  • PF Bloggers’ Lives affect their spending. It was Karen at Help Me to Save that pointed this one out to me. She only pays $.17 of every dollar on housing because her mortgage is already paid off. Good for you, Karen! Because of the different life situations, you can’t just say that people should be spending this or that. It’s not only going to be different, but change for everyone over time.

Secondary Highlights

  • Four people spend more money on traveling than food.
  • Four people spend more money on entertainment than food.
  • For personal finance bloggers (who you would typically expect to be forward thinkers), insurance is one of the lowest expenses across the board. Are you surprised?
  • Most are heavy savers – Good job personal finance savers! Kevin at Invest it Wisely went the extra mile and even calculated in his employer’s match.



23 Responses to Where Bloggers Spend Their Money – Dollar Challenge Results

  1. Hank says:

    This was such a great exercise, Corey. Thanks for putting it all together and lighting a fire to actually look at some of the incredible trends this presented. You bring up a great/startling revelation about insurance too.

  2. Thanks for the great graphs. I enjoyed scoping out the posts by the outliers.

    Haha, spending more on Travel than on Food – that’s us! Traveling is our biggest expenditure after housing, our Roths, and giving.

    I’m not really surprised that insurance is so low – for us it was only 2.5%. I think that reflects the age/stage demographic of a lot of PF bloggers – young, many without children. We have health (for which we don’t pay premiums, so it’s not included in my breakdown), car, and renter’s insurance. The only other type of insurance I would remotely consider getting in the next few years is long-term disability. I have read that life insurance can wait until someone depends on your income – children, a non-working (or low-paid) spouse, or a mortgage – isn’t that so? And of course long-term care is for people in their 60s or older. Did I miss anything?

  3. Aloysa says:

    Interesting, interesting!I was waiting for this post to come out so that I can see what the results will be. 🙂 Was styding those charts for a while. Great comparison info, Corey!

  4. Cecile says:

    Thanks for the follow-up ! It’s really interesting to be able to compare data with other people.
    I guess I belong in the category of people who spend more on entertainment than on food… Maybe this has also something to do with your audience : in your 20’s, you can be traveling a lot,trying new sports, going to the movies, etc… so you spend more on entertainment. You don’t have a big family (=less people to feed), maybe you don’t have your own car, or home (=less insurance), so you spend less on these things.

    It would be interesting to see how all these categories change with time ! Maybe in 3 years I will have a car !

  5. PKamp3 says:

    Haha, nice results. I’m one of the 50% who worried my results would throw it off – guess I was kind of typical after all…

    This was a great roundup. Thanks for putting it all together!

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  7. Sofia says:

    This is a great post. Gives so much insight to how pf bloggers actual spend money, Thanks for putting all that effort into the graphs and charts.

  8. If you had a larger data set, it’d be interesting to see how everyone compares across similar demographics, i.e location, family size, income, to see how they all compare.

  9. Thanks for wrapping this up and for the extra mention! Good lord, someone has expensive housing. Good to see high savings rate amongst most of the bloggers, too. 🙂

  10. We spend more money on traveling than on food. But then we are retired & can travel a lot. I didn’t enter our info, but if I did I KNOW it would throw everything off since we are about 40 years older than the rest of you. Glad to see the savings priority!

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  12. Jackie says:

    Really interesting to see all the results. And I win in the “Other” category 😛 (Probably from our traveling…)

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  15. Evan says:

    Wow That is some really cool data! I am SHOCKED by the insurance part of it…but I have a theory (don’t I always?). Most PF Bloggers are going to look at insurance as an expense and work really hard to keep it low.

    • Corey says:

      haha – I would be disappointed if you didn’t have a theory. 😉 Actually, I think you have a good point. I have read lots of articles about increasing your deductibles to lower premiums… I tend to lean towards the safer side, but that would make sense.

  16. Thanks Corey! I think this was a fun experiment for all of us.

  17. Thanks for vetting and organizing all the info then making up some cool graphs for us to easily see how we compare to each other.

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  20. Shannon says:

    wow, great job on putting together the data, the graphs are great! The insurance bit surprises me, ours looks tiny, but we have renters, medical, AND life insurance! Guess that’s good news for me though that it’s not costing us an incredible amount. It would be interesting for everyone to input their spending again next year to see how (or if) our spending havits change over the next year. 🙂

  21. Forest Parks says:

    Wow nice analysis, I always fall off the band wagon when it comes to tracking money to the dollar but still am coming in spending less than I earn.

  22. This is so interesting!

    As a new PF blogger, I love how we’re all at different stages and have different goals. We spend 40% of our monthly take-home pay on rent since we live in a high cost of living area. But we only spend 1% on transportation.

    Win some and lose some, I suppose? 🙂