As a single person, it’s easy to assume that couples have it easier financially. After all, married couples have a built-in housemate to share expenses and potentially two incomes to put toward financial goals. And there’s certainly enough written about how couples can save money compared with single people.
But don’t sell yourself short, my single friends. You have your own opportunities to save money unique to your situation. They may not be as obvious, but with a bit of pluck – and occasionally thumbing your nose at convention – you can turn the tables and find plenty of financial advantages to the single life.
Consider these 10 ways that being single can help you save money, and laugh all the way to the bank while your married friends are off trying to keep up with the Joneses.
Financial Benefits of Being Single
1. You Can Take Advantage of Alternative Housing
Who says a suburban single-family house with a white picket fence is where it’s at?
Leave the clichés to stodgy couples and explore alternative housing. One much-maligned option is living with your parents, which is admittedly the opposite of sexy. But it’s also cheap or even free. Imagine how much money you can put toward your other financial goals if you don’t have to pay for housing. Besides, it’s not forever; you can move out of your parents’ house whenever you like.
Living with your parents isn’t the only way to live for free. There are many ways to house hack and have someone else pay your housing bill for you.
Housemates are one classic route. If you rent, you’ll pay your fair share, but if you own your own house, a housemate or two may be able to cover your entire mortgage. In my first house, my housemate’s rent covered nearly three-quarters of the mortgage, and we became close friends into the bargain.
Nor does it say anywhere that you have to rent out a room to a long-term housemate to bring in rental income. You could rent a room on Airbnb when it suits you. My single friend Renee covers most of her rent by renting out her spare bedroom four to seven nights a month.
Lastly, look into communal living or cooperative housing as another cheap housing option open to singles. It might sound strange at first, but it’s just another form of sharing household costs and responsibilities to make life easier.
2. There’s No Pressure to Eat “Proper Meals”
Most married people expect a proper sit-down meal for dinner. As a single person, you don’t have to worry about pomp and ceremony; you can eat whatever you want.
Spend 30 seconds making yourself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner and another 30 seconds eating it. Pour a bowl of cereal. Pound a protein shake – I used to do this pretty regularly for dinner myself.
Seriously; there’s no one there to judge you. You can save money on groceries and meals by keeping it casual sometimes.
Another option is making a bunch of meals in advance. My single friend Kyle spends a few hours every Sunday evening making all of his meals for the week and throws half of them in the freezer. Pick your freezable recipes with care, though, as not every meal freezes and reheats well. Also, make sure you’re shopping with Ibotta to help you save money on groceries.
3. You Don’t Have to Worry About Anyone Else’s Debt or Credit
My sister married a man with five digits of credit card debt. Now, it’s effectively her debt too, and they’ve been gradually paying it down for years. But you? You only have your own debts to answer for, which hopefully means none.
If you do have your own unsecured debt, here are a few reasons to get out of that debt, as well as several tried-and-true strategies to pay off your debt. While you’re at it, try these tips to improve your credit score.
4. You Have 100% Control Over Your Spending & Savings Rate
One of the most common sources of strife between couples is money. It’s rare for two people to enter a relationship with virtually identical spending and saving habits, much less identical long-term financial goals.
Far more often, one partner is thrifty, while the other spouse loves to overspend. These habits prove difficult to shake, even after the partners sit down and agree on a solution.
Then there’s the risk of financial infidelity – of one or both spouses lying to each other about money. One study reported by CNBC found that rates of financial infidelity are as high as 33% of couples in some demographics.
You don’t need to worry about any of that. You control your own spending habits, and you can set a 50% savings rate if you like. No one can touch your hard-earned money but you.
Pro tip: If you’re looking for an effortless way to save a little extra money, download Acorns. They will round up every purchase you make and invest the difference. Bank accounts like Simple.com have similar features. However, instead of investing the round-up, they will move it to a high-yield savings account.
5. You Have More Time for Side Hustles
Relationships are great and all, but they take a lot of time and effort.
We’ve all sat through tedious dinner parties with our significant other’s work friends or spent entire weekends with our significant other’s family. Which says nothing of date nights, movie marathon nights, or other plans that significant others make on our behalf.
Forget all that nonsense. When you’re single, you have all the free time in the world, outside of your job. Which means that you’re free to pursue side gigs and earn extra money with your extra time. If you want to share your car through Turo to make some extra cash, no one if going to tell you no. You can even start your own business while you’re working a full-time job if that’s what you want. The world’s your oyster.
6. You Don’t Have to Worry About Paying for a Wedding
Weddings are shockingly expensive. The average wedding in the United States costs $44,105, according to a 2018 study by Brides. That’s higher than the median personal income in the United States of $31,561, according to the Social Security Administration.
Sure, weddings are fun. But an-entire-year’s-worth-of-wages fun? I’m not convinced. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that cheaper weddings lead to happier marriages.
But how much to spend on a wedding, and how to pay for it, are decisions you don’t need to make any time soon. Instead, you get to keep saving money for a down payment on a house, or purchase a rental property through Roofstock, or funneling money toward your early retirement, or traveling to inexpensive European destinations while they’re still cheap.
Tying the knot is a tangle you can figure out another day. Invest or spend your money on your own dreams and goals in the meantime and leave the fiscal hangover of weddings to your friends.
7. If You Have Kids, They Have Special Scholarship & Grant Options
Being a single parent is tough; there’s no way around it. Beyond the emotional challenges, financial hardship after divorce or the death of a spouse is a very real risk to many newly single parents.
If there’s one silver lining, it’s that your kids are eligible for a wide range of college scholarships and grants unique to children of single parents. While it’s by no means exhaustive, this list from CollegeScholarships.org contains grants for children of single parents, for example. Also, the Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) program looks at your income alone when determining financial need, making it easier for your child to qualify.
Besides, no one says you have to foot the bill. It’s your decision whether to pay for your child’s tuition, and you can also help your child navigate the many ways to pay for college without taking on student loan debt.
8. You Can Move Anywhere & Capitalize on a Lower Cost of Living
Married couples can’t just up and move across the country or the world. Not only do they both have to agree to it, but they also both need career prospects wherever they decide to move.
You’re under no such limitations. If you like, you can move to a small, picturesque town on the coast of Portugal, where the sound of waves on the beach lulls you to sleep every night and the cost of living is a fraction of your current city. Or you can move to the mountains, desert, bayous, or wherever strikes your fancy.
I once spent two years moving every three months and saw firsthand how truly dramatic the differences in cost of living are across the United States. Two cities I lived in were San Francisco and Las Cruces: according to Numbeo, consumer prices are 65.81% higher in San Francisco than in Las Cruces. They go on to summarize that it would cost $2,632.56 to maintain the same quality of life in Las Cruces that $7,700 buys in San Francisco.
You’re unfettered as a single person. Take advantage of it and find somewhere to live with a high quality of life at a low cost. Start with these lists of the most affordable cities for renters and countries where you can live comfortably on $2,000 and expand your search from there.
9. No One Objects When You Buy Used Things
Some things, such as paper towels, you should always buy new. But other items you should absolutely buy used.
Take furniture, for example. It simply doesn’t hold its value. I recently accepted $250 for a matching leather sofa set that cost nearly $3,000 new and which had virtually no damage. I was definitely on the losing side of that transaction. The same goes for many electronics. You can buy a used LED television in perfect condition for a small fraction of its cost new.
But when you’re married, it’s not up to you alone. Your spouse might love nothing better than the idea of a shopping spree at the local electronics store. They may furrow their brow at you for even proposing used furniture.
As a single person, you can furnish your home with used goods, spending a tenth of the retail cost, and no one ever needs to know. Think of it as a secret weapon in your war for financial superiority.
10. You Can Set Extreme Financial Goals
It’s as dull as it is true: “Marriage is all about compromise.” Compromise is great for preventing your spouse from walking out on you, but it doesn’t lend itself to massive action and extreme results.
As a single person, you can shoot for the stars financially. Want to reach financial independence and retire early? You can do it with a high enough savings rate. Dream of building your own business? Go ahead, pump all your extra money into growing it.
Buy that 1962 Aston Martin, move to another country, or take a year or two to travel the world. Whatever your dream, you can put all of your money toward it, and no one else can utter a peep about it.
You may never have the freedom again to pursue extreme financial goals. Take advantage of it and aim high.
Being single is not a financial burden. It’s whatever you make of it.
The recurring theme among the options above is that you have total control over your finances, which leaves you more flexibility to structure your spending and your life. The other side of that coin is that you alone are responsible for your own financial success; you can’t lean on your spouse to be “the responsible one.”
So rise to the occasion. Take charge of your financial future, set dazzling financial goals, and then build your life around meeting them. If you do it right, you can create such a compelling financial case study that your future spouse has no choice but to acknowledge your brilliance and join you on your road to riches.
How can you bend your finances to your will and get more creative with them as a single person?