If you've ever wondered whether you're spending too much on your housing or groceries, wonder no more. There's no right amount to spend on anything, but thanks to the nice people at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you can compare your spending with those in several income brackets. According to the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey of 2002, here are the percentages of total expenses that Americans pay for a variety of things (based on an income of nearly $50,000):

Sum spent % of expenses
Food (total) $5,375 13.2%
Food (at home) 3,099 7.6
Food (away) 2,276 5.6
Housing 13,283 32.7
Apparel/services 1,749 4.3
Transportation 7,759 19.1
Health care 2,350 5.8
Entertainment 2,079 4.9
Personal care 526 1.3
Reading 139 0.3
Tobacco supplies 320 0.8
Education 752 1.9
Insurance/pensions 3,899 9.5

Note that from 2001 to 2002, health-care spending increased 7.7%, while education spending increased 16%. These reflect two trends in America, that of health-care costs spiraling out of control and economic uncertainty leading more people to invest in education in order to increase their employability.

The percentage that people in different income brackets spend on this and that varies, of course, but for most categories it doesn't vary all that much. Housing expenses remain in the 30% to 36% range for all levels, while personal care, apparel and entertainment vary by just a percentage point or two. For lower-income folks, food spending approaches 20%, while it's closer to 10% to 14% for wealthier folks. Education and reading expenses are highest for the very poor, while "personal insurance, pensions and Social Security" expenses are highest among the wealthiest group.

Learn more about how to assess and control your own spending in these articles:

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.