As a born and bred Hoosier I take pride in my state, but it isn’t a blind pride. Sometimes us Hoosiers do some dumb stuff. A study was recently released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis which showed that in 2012 Hoosiers spent more on gas and healthcare than on housing and food on average.
At first it seems like semi-good news. It’s seems awesome that we are spending less on food and housing than other states, but I’m less optimistic. To me these four categories are all intertwined and lower spending in one category may lead to higher spending in others.
Let’s start with low food costs. Sure spending less on food is a good thing. I recommend spending 12% of your take-home pay on food, but to me this statistic doesn’t make me think Hoosiers are great at budgeting. It makes me think that we are just really poor eaters. Indiana is the 9th most obese state in our nation. Couple this fact with the knowledge that healthy food is usually more expensive and it becomes pretty obvious that spending less on food doesn’t mean we are eating less or more healthy than states that spend more. Hoosiers spending less on food than other states just means we are spending money on cheaper (read: unhealthy) food. This then naturally translates into higher healthcare costs.
Same goes for gas and housing expenses. My own observation is that Hoosiers tend to live pretty far away from their jobs which leads to higher transportation costs. Living further from work also prevents the ability to walk or bike to work which can cut out great exercise time. Lack of exercise can be another cause of higher healthcare costs.
The reality is you need to evaluate the implications of your spending, not just the spending itself. Don’t pat yourself on the back for only spending 5% of your budget on food when all you ate was Ramen all month. Your health is more important than being cheap.
For more, listen to this segment from The Pete the Planner Radio Show:
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.