Isles third in spending


POSTED: Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The 1960s show tune “;Hey Big Spender”; may as well be dedicated to Hawaii households because we are third in the United States, according to a new report by

Spending an average of $46,518 in 2009, not including housing costs, households in the state are behind only those in Connecticut and Washington, D.C.

Among the 25 top-spending cities, Honolulu households' average spending of $46,087 ranks at No. 17. Visitor spending doesn't count.

Hawaii households' spending was 9 percent higher than Honolulu households', and Honolulu's spending was 22 percent above the $37,782 spent by the average American family last year. Honolulu's was also 180.2 percent higher than depressed Detroit, where average household spending was $16,446.

The rankings appear in the first “;How America Spends”; report from, a personal finance-focused social media company that aims to help consumers make wiser choices. Its strategic partners and funders include Citigroup, Microsoft and Morningstar.

Bundle compiled its numbers from Citigroup, U.S. government data and third-party research. Bundle rankings are based on consumer spending in food and drink; shopping; travel and leisure; getting around; health and family; and house and home categories, each of which has at least two subcategories.

The site is a demographer's playground, breaking out data by age group, married couples with and without children, and male- and female-led single-parent homes, and showing where their money goes.

Hawaii spent the least on gas, said Managing Editor Janet Paskin. Surely that is due to our comparatively short driving distances versus our expensive gasoline.

Hawaii leads in food and drink spending and “;was also one of the highest states in what we call health and family,”; which includes spending on insurance, school and child care, health care, charity and personal care, Paskin said.

Our spendthrift ways reflect the six-figure credit card debt seen during the recession, resulting job losses and increasing bankruptcy filings.

Bundle does “;use some data from credit card transactions,”; Paskin said, “;so that may also skew Hawaii's data ... if people are living above and beyond their means.”; Living within one's means is difficult if the gig supplying said means has ceased to exist.

“;Our goal is really to get people to ... start talking more openly about money, not in a tacky or gauche way, but sort of lifting the veil around spending, financial responsibility and problem-solving.”;

“;I think our goal is to start to have more honest conversations and to try to give people context.”;


There will be no Hawaii winner of a James Beard Award this year. The foundation's list of finalists is absent any of the Hawaii chefs or restaurants that were among the semifinalists announced last month.

It's about “;geography,”; said 2003 winner George Mavrothalassitis. “;Judges vote for restaurants they have visited, and, of course, they go to Los Angeles and San Francisco more often than Hawaii,”; he said.