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Reference Budget for Consumer Expenditures

The Reference Budget shows ordinary consumer expenditures for different types of households.

The reference budget can be composed so that it shows the costs of maintaining a reasonable level of consumption for households of varying sizes and with different age- and gender compositions. The budget includes both regular, running expenses for food, clothes, hygiene products etc., and expenses for more infrequent purchases of durable consumer goods such as furniture, electrical supplies etc.

A reasonable level of consumption

The budget shows the costs of maintaining a reasonable level of consumption for the household in question. By a reasonable level of consumption we mean a consumption level that most people would accept. It fulfils the requirements of normal health and nutritional standards and enables the members of the household to participate in the most common leisure activities in a satisfactory manner.

The budget is an example

The starting point for the budget is a detailed account of goods and services that are the subject of price measurements. It is one example of what constitutes a reasonable level of consumption, according to specialists within the various consumption areas. The commodities that the budget is based on are of normal, good quality. Emphasis is put on durability, simple design and functionality. In cases where it is relevant, security aspects have also been considered.

The budget is a long term budget

The reference budget is a budget for households that already have a reasonable standard of living; it is a supplemental budget. It is called a long-term budget because it assumes that money is set aside every month in order to afford more infrequent purchases of expensive and durable consumer goods. When the refrigerator, stove or washing machine breaks, there should be money for repairs or to buy a new one without negatively affecting consumption in other areas.

The budget is a family budget

The standard budget is a family budget. It is therefore difficult to use the budget to calculate specific costs of having children in the household. It is of course possible to use the various budget items to estimate for instance the costs of what a 10 year old eats and drinks per month, but the sum of all the items does not necessarily show how much it costs to have a child in the household. Expenses for school, holidays and specialised leisure activities, celebration of birthdays and other occasions, gifts etc. are not included. Nor does the budget take into consideration the life phase of adults, which also has consequences for the costs of having children.

Example budget

Our example budget shows the budget of a family of four (PDF). Our example is from 2015. 

Calculate your own budget! (in Norwegian)

Questions about the budget?

Contact: Elling Borgeraas

SIFO Published: Updated: