Chart of the Week: How have family budgets changed over the past 100 years?

Dec 05, 2018
Chart of the Week, Budgeting, Research

From The Atlantic

Hat tip to Sonia from the NGPF team for pointing out this informative article from the Atlantic. Here's how it described life in 1900: 

In 1900, seen from perch of the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- which counts national jobs, income and spending -- the United States is like one big farm surrounded by a cluster of small factories. Almost half of the country works in agriculture. As for the budding services economy: There are more household servants than sales workers. As for the women's rights movement: More than twice as many households report income from children (22%) than wives (9%). 

Questions for students:

  • What has been the most dramatic change in the family budget over the past 100+ years? What do you think accounts for this change?
  • What cost category has continually grown over the last century? 
  • How do you think family budgets might have changed since 2003? What categories do you think have increased? decreased? Explain.
  • Are there any major cost categories that you think should appear on this chart? 


Want your students to improve their skills at interpreting data? Check out NGPF Data Crunches. 


About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.