Affordable: What Does it Mean?

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  June 17, 2022
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When you hear the word “affordable,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it a cheap item? Something that’s not worth the money? Or is it something that you can actually afford?

Affordable means able to be afforded. It’s something you can buy or pay for without putting a significant dent in your wallet. It’s reasonably priced without being cheap.

Let’s look at the definition and some examples.

What does affordable mean

What Does “Affordable” Really Mean?

When we hear the word “affordable,” we often think of something that is inexpensive or cheap. However, the true meaning of affordable is simply something that can be afforded without causing financial strain. In other words, it’s something that is reasonably priced and won’t break the bank.

According to the English dictionary, “affordable” is an adjective that describes something that is able to be afforded. This means that the cost of the item or service is not too high and can be purchased without putting a significant dent in one’s wallet.

Examples of Affordable Products and Services

Here are some examples of affordable products and services that are commonly bought or rented:

  • Clothes: Affordable clothing can be found at many stores, both in-person and online. This includes items like t-shirts, jeans, and dresses that are priced reasonably and won’t cost a fortune.
  • Meals: Eating out can be expensive, but there are many affordable options available. Fast food restaurants, food trucks, and even some sit-down restaurants offer meals that are inexpensive and won’t break the bank.
  • Books: Buying books can be costly, but there are many affordable options available. This includes purchasing used books, renting books from a library, or buying e-books online.
  • Housing: Affordable housing is a provision for people of limited means. This includes units that are rented or bought at a lower cost than other housing options.

The Importance of Affordable Prices in Business

For businesses, offering affordable prices is crucial to attracting customers and increasing sales. By keeping prices reasonable, businesses can appeal to a wider range of customers and build a loyal customer base.

Additionally, offering affordable prices can help businesses stand out in a crowded marketplace. With so many options available to consumers, businesses that offer cheaper prices may be more likely to attract customers and increase their revenue.

Affordable housing is housing deemed affordable to those with a median household income as rated by country, State (province), region or municipality by a recognized Housing Affordability Index. In Australia, the National Affordable Housing Summit Group developed their definition of affordable housing as housing that is, “…reasonably adequate in standard and location for lower or middle income households and does not cost so much that a household is unlikely to be able to meet other basic needs on a sustainable basis.” In the United Kingdom affordable housing includes “social rented and intermediate housing, provided to specified eligible households whose needs are not met by the market.” Most of the literature on affordable housing refers to a number of forms that exist along a continuum – from emergency shelters, to transitional housing, to non-market rental (also known as social or subsidized housing), to formal and informal rental, indigenous housing and ending with affordable home ownership. The notion of housing affordability became widespread in the 1980s in Europe and North America. A growing body of literature found it problematic. Notably, the shift in UK housing policy away from housing need to the more market-oriented analyses of affordability was challenged by Whitehead (1991). This article discusses the principles that lie behind the concepts of need and affordability and the ways they have been defined. This article focuses on the affordability of owner-occupied and private rental housing as social housing is a specialised tenure. Housing choice is a response to an extremely complex set of economic, social, and psychological impulses. For example, some households may choose to spend more on housing because they feel they can afford to, while others may not have a choice. In the United States and Canada, a commonly accepted guideline for housing affordability is a housing cost that does not exceed 30% of a household’s gross income. When the monthly carrying costs of a home exceed 30–35% of household income, then the housing is considered unaffordable for that household. Determining housing affordability is complex and the commonly used housing-expenditure-to-income-ratio tool has been challenged. Canada, for example, switched to a 25% rule from a 20% rule in the 1950s. In the 1980s this was replaced by a 30% rule. India uses a 40% rule.


So, affordable means you can afford something without putting a significant dent in your wallet. It’s a great way to describe reasonably priced items and services that people commonly buy or rent. 

So, don’t be afraid to use the word “affordable” in your writing. It might just make your writing more interesting!

I'm Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor, content marketer, and dad. I love trying out new equipment, and together with my team I've been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.