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What Canadian households are spending most of their money on

Woman housewife looking check in the store
Woman housewife looking check in the store

Canadians are spending most of their household income on imputed rental fees for housing, followed by food and then paid rental fees for housing. Food and non-alcoholic beverages services, such as money spent on restaurants, rounds out the top expenditures, based on current price estimates, seasonally adjusted for the first quarter of 2019.

Total household final consumption expenditure (HFCE) at current prices increased from $310,152 million in the first quarter of 2018 to $321, 424 million in Q1 2019, according to the Detailed Housing Final Consumption Expenditure quarterly report breakdown, released by Statistics Canada. The total HFCE for 2018 was $1, 257, 675 million. In 2017 that number was $1, 208, 432 million.

Household is generally defined as being composed of a person or group of persons who co-reside in, or occupy, a dwelling.


One interesting trend has been the slowdown in the purchase of motor vehicles, notes an analyst from Statistics Canada. Looking at the series “New passenger cars” and “New trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles” expenditures for motor vehicles had been growing strongly in previous years, but slowed down in 2018. However, purchases have rebounded for Q1 2019, based on currently price estimates, seasonally adjusted for the period.

A change can also be seen in the cannabis market being that both illegal and now legal activities relation to production, distribution and consumption of cannabis are recorded. Cannabis products for licensed non-medical use went from $172 from Q4 2018 to $377 in Q1 2019, while cannabis products for non-medical use (unlicensed) has dropped over the period from Q1 2018 to Q1 2019 ($1, 223 to $1,014, respectively).

Among the lowest category expenditures are those seen with money for cinemas, newspapers and periodicals, musical instruments and major durables for indoor recreation, and railway transport, while spending on mutual funds, trusteed pension funds and air transport were among the sections seeing more money forked out by Canadians.

Canadians are attentive to their pets, spending more on their creatures (in the general $1,333 to $1,354 ball park, per quarter) and their food than they are on gardening, where Canadians are hovering more around the $1,000 mark in quarterly spending. Household furniture and furnishings are seeing a greater amount of money distributed, particularly in Q1 2019. Canadians spent $4,804, based on current estimates. And for personal grooming services, Canadians spent an estimated of $2,381 in Q1 2019.

Money spent on legal and other services have remained pretty consistent throughout 2018. But, electricity, gas and water supply and sanitation services have all continued to increase, each quarter. So too has cable, satellite and other program distribution services with Q1 seeing the greatest increase. This could in part be due to sports playoff season, or maybe its solely because of the Game of Thrones’ fan base, who knows.

We previously reported on where expats are sending their money, but another finding StatsCan reports worth remembering is based on the expenditure by Canadians abroad, which amassed to $12,062 in Q4 of 2018, up from that seen in Q1 2018 at $11, 764.