How Living Expenses Vary from Culture to Culture

Oscar R. Mondragon

Posted on 05/24/2021

by Oscar R. Mondragon

How Living Expenses Vary from Culture to Culture

In a perfect world, everyone’s expenses would be the same, i.e., affordable, leaving enough room for everyone to save. However, one factor that plays a vital role in impacting the ‘lifestyle affordability’ is culture and its impact on expenses.

This concept is relatively new but a crucial one nonetheless. Differences in living expenses do come from people’s upbringing but also depend on what’s going on around them, particularly in terms of family life. The impact of culture on expenses is indirect but rather prominent nonetheless.

Let us consider how living expenses (not luxury) can vary based on your identity.

Elements of Culture that Impact Expenses

Three main cultural elements impact your expenses, and their origins can be traced to who you are and where you are from. These include:

Historical Elements

Impact of one’s history is a well-known and recognized example of how culture impacts expenses. The core element to consider here is your upbringing. For example, children growing up in poor households are usually more generous in terms of helping out family members. Even a sniff of the fact that your mother or father needs something, no matter how extravagant, becomes a necessary expense for you.


Different cultures often dictate what individuals do in their daily lives and, therefore, define who they are. You can control this element since it directly impacts you and you alone. For example, people from certain parts of the world are usually more open to spending on their family instead of spending on themselves. People in the US and the UK typically have no problem spending on themselves.

Community Expenses

These expenses can be directly attributed to culture. In the case of community expenses, you run the risk of being called stingy or a scrooge if you try to cut back on them and save up. This dynamic exists because one’s community dictates which behaviors they should emulate instead of giving them the freedom to be who they are, which, in turn, dictates financial decisions and mindsets.

The Money Story

If you look at the elements discussed above, historical and activity factors are mostly influenced by one core element — emotions. These elements add up to form your money story and tie your finances to what others might consider non-essential expenses. Financial advisors need to be particularly aware of the role culture plays here.

Some other emotions that vary from culture to culture and might dictate financial decisions include:

-Being Overwhelmed
-Being Embarrassed

Peer pressure is perhaps the most dangerous tool different cultures have that can impact your financial decisions.

Bottom Line

These cultural impacts on our expenses are ‘hardwired’ in our daily lives and, therefore, rewriting your money story isn’t particularly easy. The statement remains true even after taking into account how these elements affect us. To improve this situation, you need to take some time to dig deeper into your life, your history, your family, and priorities.

Craft your own unique money story – one that helps you lead a better life. The journey to that begins by controlling your emotions.

At Centric, you will find expert financial advisors that can help you cater to these elements by jumping in your shoes and helping you devise strategies that truly make a difference. Let us help you craft bespoke strategies and handle your finances better!

Disclaimer: The statements above represent an opinion based on observations of the majority and can change with time. There are many instances where the above-mentioned considerations don’t apply.

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