We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What are Living Expenses?

By G. Wiesen
Updated: May 16, 2024

Living expenses are typically those costs and expenses associated with the act of living and can consist of a number of different types of expenses. A living expense can include essential expenses such as payment of rent or mortgage to maintain a dwelling, costs of utilities such as electricity and water service, and expenses for food. There are also living expenses that may be considered non-essential, which may contribute to a person’s cost of living but that could be done without and still allow a person to survive, though with a different lifestyle.

Different people have different living expenses, and these are not fixed numerical values as much as they represent certain necessities. There can also be some difference of opinion as to what qualifies as a living expense, since some people may consider non-essential items to be required for continued comfort and living. A car, for example, is not strictly necessary for many people who could walk or ride a bicycle or public transportation to reach their work and other locations. Many people would, however, consider the costs of car payments and gas as basic living expenses that could not be easily done without.

Basic living expenses typically include those things essential to human survival: food and shelter. These two concepts are generally the most primal and important needs people have and so a person’s ability to live and function often depend on them. Shelter will usually consist of a payment for rent or on a mortgage, which is often required to continue living in a particular dwelling. Other amenities for shelter, such as electricity or gas for heating and cooking, water and sewer expenses for hygiene, and sanitation for disposal of garbage are also common expenses.

Food is the other basic living expense that most people consider essential. This can include the price of raw materials, such as food that is cooked and prepared by a person, as well as expenses for buying prepared foods. Other living expenses that may be considered with shelter, such as the cost of running a refrigerator and oven, may be related to the preparation and consumption of food as well. Most expenses beyond these two essential requirements could be considered non-essential in nature, though they will often contribute to a person’s realistic living expenses.

If someone has a car, for example, then he or she would likely need to pay for insurance, gas, and perhaps make ongoing payments for the car as well. While these costs may be non-essential, they are still important costs required for a person to continue living the way in which he or she is accustomed. As technology has changed, expenses such as mobile telephones, computers, and Internet service have also contributed to increased living expenses for many people.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon359715 — On Dec 20, 2013

@jmiller2: Well, I think so, because back in the developing countries specifically in Sub Saharan Africa, it is quite a daunting task to handle such expenses.

By jmiller2 — On Dec 12, 2013
In today's world, should cell phones and internet access be considered basic living expenses?
SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.