In the budgeting world, it’s called leakage – the difference between what you think you spend and what you really spend. Leakage or spending on wants rather than needs typically takes the form of eating out, travel and just plain stuff.

In the U.S., 34% of consumers say technology is their #1 target for discretionary spending but that changes depending on where you live – below are the #1 choices on other continents*:

31% of Europeans spend on fashion

24% of Australians spend on travel

18% of Africans spend on leisure pursuits

17% of South Americans spend on beauty

16% of Asians spend on food and drink

*Online survey of 1500 respondents by Acceleration Partners, a UK-based digital marketing agency

How much of our incomes go towards spending on non-essential goods and services? Households with annual incomes below $25,000 report an average of just $5,590 a year in discretionary spending. By comparison, households with incomes of $250,000+ a year spend an average of $54,000 on nonessential goods and services.

How does that breakdown by spending category? To get down to an interesting level of detail, I had to go back to 2009 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s based on an average American household income of $63,000.

Apparel Products and Services
Dry cleaning, clothing rental and storage, jewelry and watch repair are included in this category:  0.5% or $315

Tobacco
Americans continue to use tobacco products: 0.8% or $504

Entertainment Equipment and Services
This includes sports equipment, photographic equipment and supplies, hunting and fishing equipment, bikes, boats, balls and other sports equipment: 0.8% or $504

Alcohol
Every variety of alcoholic beverage, beer and wine are included in this category. Most of these beverages are consumed at home: 0.9% or $567

Fees and Admissions
Americans spend more in this category than on goods and services for personal care: 1.3% or $819

Vacation Lodging
The more income per household, the more is spent on hotels, motels, vacation homes and lodging for weekend getaways, or for longer vacations: 1.4% or $882

Hobbies, Toys, Pets and Playground Equipment
The majority of the money in this category is spent on pet food and veterinary care: 1.4% or $882


Television, Radio and Sound Equipment
This category includes video games, cable TV connections, and DVD and CD players: 2% or $1260

Gifts
Americans are generous: 2.2% or $1386

Eating Out
Including fast food, traditional restaurants, vending machines, food trucks and delivery services: 4.2% or $2619

The best way to get a handle on leakage is by tracking every dollar for a month or two – most people are shocked at their findings. Leakage is part of life – just don’t let it cut into your saving and investing goals.