Discretionary Income

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What is 'Discretionary Income'

Discretionary income is the amount of an individual's income that is left for spending, investing or saving after taxes and personal necessities (such as food, shelter, and clothing) have been paid. Discretionary income includes money spent on luxury items, vacations and non-essential goods and services.

Discretionary income is derived from disposable income, which equals gross income minus taxes.

BREAKING DOWN 'Discretionary Income'

Aggregate discretionary income levels for an economy will fluctuate over time, typically in line with business cycle activity. When economic output is strong (as measured by GDP or other gross measure), discretionary income levels tend to be high as well. If inflation occurs in the price of life's necessities, then discretionary income will fall, assuming that wages and taxes remain relatively constant.

Discretionary spending is an important part of a healthy economy - people will only spend money on things like travel, movies and consumer electronics if they have the funds to do so. Some people will use credit cards to purchase discretionary goods, but increasing personal debt is not the same as having discretionary income.

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RELATED FAQS
  1. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

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  2. Why do economists think it is important to track discretionary income?

    Learn about the importance of discretionary income to economists, particularly for economists who emphasize consumer spending ... Read Answer >>
  3. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Learn how banks determine your discretionary income, and discover why it is important to know your discretionary income even ... Read Answer >>
  4. What is the difference between disposable and discretionary income?

    See how disposable income and discretionary income are different, with an example to demonstrate why discretionary income ... Read Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between disposable income and discretionary income?

    Learn about disposable and discretionary income, including why these measures are important, the main difference between ... Read Answer >>
  6. How does discretionary income relate to autonomous consumption?

    Learn what differentiates discretionary income from autonomous consumption, how the two relate to each other and what place ... Read Answer >>
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