- We asked certified financial planners Colin Moynahan and Christine Centino to tell us the most expensive things the average American will pay for on over a lifetime.
- While buying a house is the biggest expense, they listed a few other things many of us don’t realize we’re spending a lot of money on over time, including health insurance, taxes, and even furniture.
- Buying a car also made the list, especially when considering today’s longer loan terms and higher interest rates.
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With home prices on the rise, college education costs going up, and auto loan delinquency rates at an all-time high, some of the most expensive things Americans are purchasing are also the most essential.
We asked Colin Moynahan and Christine Centino, both certified financial planners, about the most costly things they felt Americans will purchase or put money towards over a lifetime. Their answers and the numbers they gave are based on their years of experience as financial planners.
While both agree that a home is one of the top expenses, they also came up with some unexpected items, such as furniture, taxes, and even health insurance.
Here are the seven things these CFPs say will cost Americans the most.
7. Health insurance
- Tom Werner / Getty Images
Christine Centino, a certified financial planner in Glen Allen, Virginia, says that for those who have to buy their own health insurance, it’ll be one of your larger expenses.
She says, “If you work for an employer and you’re a W2 employee, they supplement a very large portion of the actual premium. So if you’re freelancing out on your own and you have to actually go buy something on the exchange, it’s just amazing how expensive it is.”
While this mainly affects those who aren’t taking the traditional employment path, for example those who start their own businesses or decide to retire before Medicare kicks in at age 65, this has the potential to be a big expense. “We’re talking about over $12,000 a year, every year,” says Centino.
6. Furnishing a new home
Colin Moynahan, a certified financial planner near Charleston, South Carolina, says that while buying a house is certainly one of the biggest expenses, furnishing and buying appliances for a new home can be a huge expense, too.
It’s something that Moynahan says new homeowners might not think about. “They just spent all this money on the down payment. Now, you gotta furnish the place,” he says.
“Most people don’t downsize, but people upsize. Now you might have an extra bedroom or two extra bedrooms, or a playroom for the kids, or a basement,” says Moynahan. “Most people aren’t going to live in an empty space,” he says.
Then, there’s the fact that expenses start to compound when these things are financed. “Next thing you know, they’ve got a new credit card, they’ve maxed the balance out, and they’re paying on that for the next five [years],” says Monhoyan.
5. A new car
- Joe Raedle / Getty Images
With longer financing terms and higher costs of borrowing, cars are quickly becoming larger expenses. And with a record high of 7 million Americans behind on their auto payments in 2018, financing cars is becoming increasingly burdensome.
Moynahan sets up a scenario, saying, “You only put down $1,000. Next thing you know, you’ve got a seven-year note at 5%. Then, basically, by the time you pay that off, you’re replacing the car.”
He suggests that anyone looking to buy a car do their research, and think about the total cost of the car you’re considering. “If you’d done a little bit of planning, you would have found that the finance adds up quite a lot,” says Moynahan.
- Rick Wilking/Reuters
Centino says that taxes are one of the biggest things people put money towards, whether they know it or not.
“I think people don’t have a really good grasp on taxes and the impact, and overall what they’re paying during the year and at the end of the year,” she says.
And she mentions that it’s more than just the deduction on your paycheck – it can be paid yearly on purchases as well. “Here in Virginia we have personal property tax. So we often pay an additional tax on things like a car, a boat, all those things.”
3. A vacation home
- Tana Lee Alves/Shutterstock.com
Not only is your house a huge expense, but a vacation home is as well.
And it’s not just the up front purchase that comes with big costs. “Ongoing taxes and insurance costs get to be too much, especially in retirement,” Centino says. Maintenance is another big factor that tends to cut into budgets.
“Most people end up selling because they aren’t using the property like they thought they would,” says Centino.
2. College education or graduate school
- Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
Centino says that going to school or paying for a child’s education is a huge expense. For example, as Business Insider’s Mack DeGeurin reports, the University of Chicago’s tuition will be the first to reach $80,000 per year, adding up to over $320,000 for four years.
And loans only add to the issue. “The total cost you end up paying over the life of the loan between principal and interest can be enormous,” she says.
And as student loans continue to be a huge burden on families, it’s likely that they’ll only get bigger in the years coming.
1. Buying and selling a house.
- Steve Marcus/Reuters
The common 20% down payment on a house can be a huge number, but it’s something that many homebuyers are prepared for. What might not be as clear is the fact that you’ll also spend quite a bit when you sell your house.
“When you go to sell it, it’s 6%,” says Moynahan, referring to the commission that a seller will pay to their agent and the buyer’s agent. “If you’re selling a $300,000 house, that’s $18,000,” he says.
In addition, there are all the recurring expenses that come with owning a home. Maintenance, taxes, homeowner’s association fees, and more can all add up to big expenses on top of your mortgage. The average cost of a home in the US is now at $227,700 according to data from Zillow. “That’s one of the top single expenses you will ever pay,” says Moynahan.