From "The Great Gatsby" to "The Bachelor," the media image of the single man's life oozes glamour, glitz, and girls. But a new survey scrutinizing the fine details of American bachelors' financial dealings reveals some fascinating facts.
Run by the Census Bureau, the Consumer Expenditure Survey interviews around 3,500 representative households every year, asking Americans questions ranging from "How much money do you make?" to "How much did you spend on bacon this week?" With millions of new data points to pick from, here's what an average bachelor's life really looks like.
The single men of America are far from the top tier of income earners. In fact, on average, they fall in the 37th percentile bracket from the bottom, with average after-tax income clocking in at $32,300, well below the average consumer unit's $51,330.
As far as occupations go, bachelors jobs reflect the great American switch to a service-based economy. But while Americans overall toil across a wide swath of professions, bachelors have definite work preferences. They're less than half as likely to teach or provide administrative support as the average American, but are 50 percent more likely to join the Army and twice as likely to make a living as a mechanic.
And not only does a single man earn less, he also works more. While the week winds down for an average American at 39.8 hours, Mr. Bachelor stretches his workweek to 42.2 hours.
The Bachelor Pad
No shock: Few single guys occupy penthouse suites. The majority -- 42 percent -- live in single-residence homes, while another 28 percent call an apartment their abode.
When asked how much they think their pad would be worth in monthly rent, the average bachelor respondent estimated $1,160, which is $270 less than the average American's answer to that question. That's understandable, though, considering Mr. Bachelor resides in a slightly cozier (read, smaller) residence.
And don't expect much in the way of interior design. While the average American spent around $450 on furniture in the past year, bachelors spent just $250. But there's one home amenity bachelors aren't skimping on: 12 percent of Americans have swimming pools, and so do 12 percent of single men.
While bachelors might pinch pennies on furniture, they certainly don't cut corners on clothing. Single men spend around $400 on clothes a year, while married men dole out just $280. One interesting difference: Bachelors spend about one-third less than married men on footwear. And spending on overall "personal care" expenses are almost identical for the two groups.
From these stats, at least, it seems as if bachelors rely on smooth threads and rugged looks more than fancy footwear and facial products.
If there's one thing bachelors are known for, it's having a good time. But single men seem to make more fun with less.
Their entertainment expenditures clock in at $2,100 a year -- around $500 below the national average. They do dole out around 6.8 percent more for booze and 7.4 percent more for tobacco and "smoking supplies" than the average American.
And while their bachelor pads might not live up to others' expectations, bachelors are bigger homebodies than you might think. Single men spend just $1,200 a year on trips, which is about half what the average American spends on annual getaways.
Money and material goods are not the keys to happiness, but Mr. Bachelor lives a life of depravity compared to his cinematic stereotype. Although the Batmans of the bachelor world certainly exist, these numbers suggest a single lifestyle more in line with the Big Lebowski.
You can follow Motley Fool contributor Justin Loiseau on Twitter @TMFJLo.
The Real Single Life: How Bachelors Actually Spend Their Money