A question you might do well to ask yourself every now and then is: What's a reasonable percentage of my income to spend on various things? The answer will vary widely, of course.

Where you live is a major factor in how little you can manage to pay for some products and services. Car insurance, for example, can cost arms and legs in some regions, but just fingers and toes in others. Likewise, housing costs can be sky-high in some parts of the country and quite modest elsewhere.

Aside from your location, your personal situation, needs, and preferences might mean that you should spend more or less on some things than other folks would.

Here are some very rough guidelines on how much of your after-tax income you might aim to spend on various categories:

  • Housing and utilities: 25-30%
  • Food: 10-15%
  • Vehicles: 10-15%
  • Insurance: 5%
  • Saving and investing: 10-15%
  • Entertainment: 5%
  • Clothing: 5%
  • Medical: 5%
  • Childcare and education: 1-8%
  • Gifts and charity: up to you

Do these numbers make sense to you? Drop by our Budgeting discussion board to get others' perspectives on spending -- and feel free to share your own thoughts, too. We offer a painless free trial to our acclaimed discussion board community.

To learn more about ways to save money and spend less, check out our Personal Finance area, which is chock-full of guidance on insurance, buying a car or home, paying for college, setting up short-term savings, getting out of debt, lowering your tax bill, and more.

And if thinking about money matters makes your head hurt and you'd like an actual person (a financial pro, no less) to talk to about your financial situation, look into our TMF Money Advisor.