Living with credit, Shopping

Britney Spears does something modestly — charge on credit

The dreams of overzealous fans everywhere came true as we discovered our beloved Britney Spears’ financial secrets — without even having to dig through her trash can.

The grand total charged to the celeb’s American Express card was released by a celebrity news blog, which uncovered the numbers in a court document — not exactly the kind of news that enraptures teenage boys, but interesting nonetheless.

According to the documents, Britney spent a total of $117,469.19 over the course of 11 months. Britney SpearsWhile spending more than $100,000 on a single card would be the kiss of death for the average American, Brit’s $100,000 in purchases aren’t so bad considering she makes about $35 million per year. So, let’s put aside her barefoot romp through a public gas station bathroom, lackluster parenting skills and forgetfulness with foundational garments so we can give Brit — or her father, who is currently managing her spending — a pat on the back for superb budgeting. This balance is only 0.33 percent of her income.

The average American family of three, on the other hand, spends 79 percent of its income each year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. This percentage takes into account all of a family’s spending, whether it is on a credit card, with a check or cash etc. Since I am not privy to each of Brit’s financial statements, this comparison is far from perfect. If we assume (also imperfect to assume, sorry!) Brit doesn’t go too crazy with the rest of her spending, then it would seem that her expenditures percentage-wise, relative to her income, aren’t grossly higher than that of an average American. In fact, she might be doing better than us. One estimate, from the Los Angeles Times, says Britney uses about $10 million, in total, including house payments, over the course of 11 months — which is only about 29 percent of her income.

Not much of Britney’s income is drained even when I try to imagine a seemingly excessive shopping spree: If Britney were to use five other credit cards and spend triple the amount she did on her AmEx card on each of the other cards, she’d still have spent only 5 percent of her income.

So, if this credit card bill, or the Los Angeles Times’ estimate, is any indication of her normal spending habits, perhaps mothers ought to let their daughters emulate her … financially.

Here is the breakdown of some of Britney’s purchases on her AmEx and the percent each is relative to her total income:
Entertainment: $482.15 (0.001%)
Furniture: $17,370.29 (0.05%)
Charities: $974.75 (0.003%)
Merchandise, clothing, supplies, groceries: $62,252.11 (0.18%)
Transportation/ Auto: $18,959.82 (0.054%)
Travel: $10,096.53 (0.029%)

The average American family spends as follows — remember, these are overall expenses, based on more than just information from a single credit card:
Entertainment: $2,698 (5.4% of income)
Household furnishings and equipment: $1,797 (3.6% of income)
Transportation: $8,758 (17.6% of income)
Apparel and services: $1,1881 (3.8% of income)
Food at home: $3,465 (7% of income)

It’s clear that most people can’t spend $62,000 on groceries and have that account for only 0.18% of their income. So, while we may wonder how on earth someone could charge more than $10,000 worth of furniture on one card, the take-home lesson here is that amounts of money mean different things to different people: Consider someone’s income when trying to determine if a $100,000 shopping spree was irresponsible or not. What is expensive for you and I might be quite cheap for someone with the annual income of Britney.

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