Compare Your Budget
Enter your monthly expenses to see how your monthly budget compares to the BEST Index for your location and family type. If you do not know how much you spend on your basic needs, you can leave a field blank. The expenses included are only BEST basic needs; when you enter your expenses, the Database calculates your total and proportional spending on basic needs only.
Every household’s circumstances are unique. Only you can judge whether you are currently spending or saving too little or too much, and whether spending changes are necessary. You can use the BEST budget, however, to consider your expenses in the context of local costs and economic security—and revisit the Database to see how your household budget and BEST Indexes change over time. You can also consider whether and how you might increase or decrease your expenses and savings to increase the possibility of long-term security. If your income is below your local BEST income, you might consider the spending levels and career opportunities that will maximize your security in both the short- and long-term.
The BEST Index measures the income a working adult requires to meet his or her basic
needs—without public or private assistance.
The BEST also includes basic savings that promote long-term and intergenerational
economic security. BEST budgets include monthly emergency savings, which protects
families from unforeseen expenses, and retirement savings, which helps workers achieve
economic security incomes in retirement. Two optional savings types—savings
for children’s higher education and homeownership—are presented as additions to
the core BEST budget.
Each BEST Index component is a conservative estimate of need; the BEST does not
include any “extras” such as vacations, entertainment, electronics, gifts or meals
out. As a result, those living below an economically secure income may be forced
to go without, make difficult choices among basic needs or forgo economic security
by not fully developing savings.
All budget components are calculated using publicly available data, obtained from
government and industry sources and market rate studies. For detailed information
on expense components, including data sources and assumptions used in specific calculations,
see the BEST Index expenses and savings definitions.
Additional information can be found in The Basic Economic Security Tables: United States Methodology and
Supplemental Data, available at