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Spending Is Up: Here's Where Your Dollars Are Going

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—People have relented their penny-pinching ways: according to the inaugural Intuit Consumer Spending Index, consumer spending is up 9% with the highest jumps in with gasoline, gift and healthcare expenditures.

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The numbers are based on aggregated data from Mint.com, Intuit's leading online and mobile personal finance software. Americans spent $4,220 per month in the first three months of 2013 versus $3,870 over the same period in 2009, with Arkansas and Washington, D.C. increasing most dramatically—up 34 and 30%, respectively.

And despite fears that the payroll tax increase and the discussions of the fiscal cliff and the sequestration would hamper consumer confidence, people are getting back up on the horse and spending.

"The data we've examined here reflects a period when the country recovered from one of the most dramatic economic shifts in recent history – showing how consumers tightened, and have since loosened spending," said Scott R. Baker, Stanford University economist and the data scientist working with Intuit to develop the index. "It demonstrates how Intuit's data can show the real-world impact of macro-economic trends on how people live."

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Here's how the spending shook out:

  • Gourmet at the grocery: Grocery spending has increased by 17%, due in part to the price of premium groceries.
  • Dining out: Restaurant spending has also increased, up 11%, a sign that people are indulging in the luxuries of eating out instead of having humble meals at home that might serve as leftovers.
  • Got gas?: Gas spending almost doubled in the period examined, with the average American household spending $198 a month on gas in the first three months of 2013, up from $110 a month during the same time period in 2009. This is out of necessity with the price of crude doubling from 2009 to 2013.
  • Healthy, yes--but wealthy and wise?: Healthcare spending has increased at one of the fastest rates since 2009, with average increases more than 30%.

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