It doesn’t matter if you’re recently single or have been living the solo life for a while — it can sometimes be challenging to stay on top of all your responsibilities. Between your job, seeing friends and family, and maintaining an active lifestyle, you’re looking at a busy schedule. If you throw your dating life into the mix, it seems like there’s no time left that’s just for you.
And that means things often fall through the cracks. In particular, it’s easy to lose track of financial goals. It’s also easy to fall into the trap of overspending and lose control of your budget.
But it’s important to stick to a financial plan, grow your retirement savings, tackle debt, and build the foundation for a comfortable financial future.
And if you don’t have dependents or a significant other, you’re positioned to commit more of your income to savings. Similarly, you can begin working toward goals that matter to you, like saving for a mortgage down payment, building an emergency fund, and improving your credit score.
As long as you follow basic money-saving tips and stick to a financial plan, you can set yourself up for the future you want, whether that involves homeownership, a family, world travel, or financial independence and early retirement.
Money-Saving Tips for Singles
Single people all live differently. For some, it means living with their parents. For others, it means striking out on their own or with roommates in an entirely new city.
Whatever the case, there are strategies for saving money that suit various lifestyles and can help you build the foundations for a bright financial future.
1. Keep Living Affordable With Roommates
One financial benefit of being married versus being single is that you can share living expenses or purchase a home together. Rent is a significant portion of most people’s monthly expenses, so splitting rent can make a difference.
If you decide to live alone, you’re almost certain to spend more on monthly rent than if you lived with one or several roommates. Multiperson households can split the cost of utilities and Internet bills and generally pay less per square foot of space.
Managing money with roommates can be a hassle, and if you don’t get along, you can run into roommate problems. However, as long as you’re direct about how much people owe and keep your finances separate whenever possible, you can avoid tension. Plus, you might even become friends with your roommates and benefit from the arrangement.
Ultimately, you need to choose a living arrangement that makes you happy and doesn’t destroy your budget. If you need help with rent budgeting, use a monthly rent calculator to find how much rent you can afford.
2. Build Your Emergency Fund
Everyone should have an emergency fund that has enough money to cover financial emergencies. Without this rainy-day fund, things like a water heater going bust or your car breaking down can cause you to go into debt. In more severe circumstances, like losing your job, emergency savings can help keep you afloat until you find employment.
However, you also want to make your emergency fund work for you rather than parking idle cash in a lackluster savings account. So opt for a high-yield savings account instead. For example, CIT Savings Builder helps you increase your savings rate multiple times faster than the national average with features like:
- High Yield competitive interest rates
- No account opening or monthly maintenance fees
- Daily compounding interest
Unlocking CIT’s highest interest rate is also easy. Well-established singles can likely maintain the minimum balance of $25,000 needed to obtain that interest rate. But those still working toward that kind of balance can still get it by making a monthly deposit of $100 or more, which is easy enough to set up as an automatic transfer. And if you can’t do either just yet, you still earn a lower but still attractive interest rate on your balance.
For more information, read our CIT Bank review.
3. Cook & Meal Prep
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, singles spend 12.8% of their income on food, whereas married couples spend 12.3%. When you’re single, it’s all too easy to eat out more and let cooking fall by the wayside. When you include dating, it’s not surprising how much food costs creep up.
Considering how expensive eating out can be, you can save a lot of money by learning how to cook. There’s plenty of free information online, and you can also buy a cheap singles cookbook. Alternatively, inexpensive meal-planning services like eMeals and $5 Meal Plan help simplify your weekly cooking plans.
And learning how to meal prep saves both money and time. For example, you can use a pressure cooker to save money by cooking meals in bulk and freezing portions for later. Slow cooker recipes are another economical choice. Dedicating one night per week to meal prepping reduces the risk of overspending on eating out or ordering in.
Finally, don’t forget to learn ways to save money on groceries. Shop for sales and try rebate apps like Ibotta and Fetch Rewards to earn cash back when grocery shopping. Consciously making an effort to cut food costs can make a significant difference for your monthly spending.
4. Share Subscriptions
Many subscription services have couples plans that have a discount in price. For example, Spotify has a duo plan for $12.99, which is more affordable than a single premium account at $9.99. Streaming services like YouTube TV or Netflix can also be cheaper if you share an account with your partner or family.
If you’re single, your first instinct might be to sign up for individual plans. However, if you want to save more money, reach out to friends and family members to see if they want to split the bill. If you both use a service, there’s no downside to signing up for a duo plan, provided one party pays their annual share upfront to make sure you’re not left footing the entire bill.
If you want to take things further, you can use Amazon Subscribe & Save to save money on everyday essentials. Subscribe & Save lets you save up to 20% if you subscribe and order at least five products for regular shipment to a single address. But subscribing to fewer than five products doesn’t save as much money. So partner with roommates or family members to maximize discounts.
5. Focus on Career Growth
An overlooked advantage of being single is that you can be selfish with your time. You should still make an effort to see friends and family to maintain a healthy social life. However, focusing on career growth and getting a raise at work is also an excellent use of time.
Every company is different, but a consistent theme in climbing the corporate ladder is to show more dedication to your work and become a leader in the office. Ask for more opportunities to lead new projects, lend more of your time to colleagues, and push yourself to excel at your regular duties.
You don’t have to sink all your free time into work, and it’s important to be mindful of workplace burnout. However, if you can land a promotion or find a new high-paying job, you can use the extra income to reach your financial goals even faster.
6. Start a Side Hustle
Saving money is a no-brainer. But if you want to play some financial offense, starting a side gig can help you boost your income and savings rate. You can even use the extra cash to meet the CIT Savings Builder account’s minimum monthly deposit target or save up for big purchases so you don’t dip into funds you’d otherwise save.
Thanks to the gig economy and online money-making ideas, there’s an incredible range of ways to boost your income. Popular options include:
- Delivering food for companies like DoorDash, GrubHub, and Postmates
- Walking dogs with Rover
- Teaching English online through a company like EF Education First
- Helping people move with companies like Dolly or Lugg
- Starting your own blog or online business
You can also consider freelance work that closely overlaps with your day job and existing skills. As long as it doesn’t interfere with your work or violate a noncompete agreement, freelancing is an easy side hustle to transition to.
Ultimately, it’s essential you pick a side hustle that’s worth the hourly commitment and isn’t agonizing. If you like driving or biking, working for food delivery apps like DoorDash is an excellent choice. If you prefer working alone, gigs that let you make money from home are a better route.
7. Prioritize Debt
There are numerous reasons to pay off debt. It opens up more income for saving and investing, reduces financial anxiety, and according to a 2013 Northwestern Medical study, can even improve your physical health.
And when you’re single is one of the best times to go all-in on paying off debt. If you have fewer responsibilities and no dependents, you can put more of your income toward debt, accelerating the process of becoming debt-free.
There are different methods to pay off debt that provide a framework for making payments. One popular approach is the avalanche method, which involves paying off your high-interest debt first to eliminate your most painful debt first before avalanching your payments to less critical debt.
In contrast, the snowball method, popularized by Dave Ramsey, involves paying off your smallest debt first to eliminate debt faster and remain optimistic. Debt consolidation loans are also an option if you’re struggling with high-interest credit card debt or payday loans.
Whatever strategy you choose is up to you. The bottom line is that you should use your single years to focus on your own well-being, which includes improving your finances.
8. Talk to a Financial Advisor
When you’re single, you have to make financial decisions on your own. You’re solely responsible for things like learning how to budget, setting saving goals, and paying your bills on time.
But for some decisions, it’s wise to consult an expert. Different types of financial advisors can help with different areas of your life, including:
- Insurance agents
- Financial planners
- Investment advisors
- Debt counselors
Which type you choose depends on your financial situation. For example, if you struggle to file your own taxes or report your business expenses, talking to an accountant can get you back on track. Similarly, if you don’t know where to begin with wealth planning, you can work with a financial planner to create a money-management roadmap for your future.
Whatever the case, it’s crucial to ask for help when you need it. Hiring an expert might seem like a discretionary expense you should cut from your budget. But in the long run, the right advice pays for itself if it helps you build positive financial habits.
9. Develop Healthy Habits
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, more than 80% of adults don’t meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities. Additionally, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that more than 40% of American adults are obese. When you consider how expensive health care costs can be, it’s clear taking preventative measures is a wise move for your health and wallet.
Some healthy habits you can start include:
- Exercising Regularly. Take up running or at-home workouts, or commit to an affordable gym membership to get more active.
- Improving Your Nutrition. It’s possible to eat healthy on a budget if you stick to frugal recipes and meal prep and shop for sales.
- Remembering Self-Care. It’s essential you make time for yourself to de-stress from work and spend time on hobbies you enjoy. A 2018 study published in the journal for BMC Medical Education showed that medical students who regularly focused on self-care had lower stress levels and a higher quality of life. Self-care doesn’t have to be expensive either. A DIY spa day or curling up with a book can go a long way in decreasing stress and improving your mood.
- Reducing Vices. Vices like smoking and drinking alcohol regularly don’t just eat into your monthly budget. They can also cost a lot later in life when dealing with the health consequences. So quit smoking and drink less alcohol per week.
- Getting Enough Sleep. According to a 2011 sleep and obesity study published in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, sleep deprivation is a risk factor for obesity. And a 2016 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that a poor sleep schedule can harm your work performance and increase absenteeism. So developing a regular sleep schedule is one of the best changes you can make for overall quality of life.
It can seem intimidating to revamp your lifestyle entirely, so start small. Apps that pay you to walk make it easy to get motivated. Similarly, you can get more social and fit by joining local running groups or hiking with friends.
10. Keep Dating Affordable
One of the most common financial pitfalls for singles is to spend too much on their dating life. If you’re going on a few dates per month, the cost of time and money can sneak up on you.
You need to factor dating into your monthly budget. Once you decide on a portion of discretionary income you can put toward dates, it’s easy to date within your means and avoid possible financial anxiety.
You can also shake up your dating life by incorporating fun, affordable date ideas. There’s nothing wrong with going to restaurants or bars, but they can also get boring. And if your monthly budget doesn’t allow the expense, you can try cheaper alternatives, including:
- Meeting for coffee
- Going on a hike
- Going to museums, art galleries, or parks
- Trying a hobby you’re both interested in, like an inexpensive art class or checking out a local brewery
- Going for a run or a gym session together
There are so many affordable first date ideas that can even be more enjoyable than just grabbing dinner.
Finally, be clear about where you stand on dating financial etiquette to avoid awkward conversations. According to California State University, Chapman University, and Wellesley College research presented at the 2013 national meeting of the American Sociological Association, men still pay more for dates than women, and that’s completely fine if you’re comfortable with that arrangement. However, the research also suggests expectations regarding who pays for a date are slowly changing. It’s no longer unheard of for people to split a bill, for women to pay, or to have discussions about who pays.
Ultimately, that means you shouldn’t be afraid to keep your finances in mind when planning a date. You don’t have to spell out your financial preferences in an online profile or before you go on a date (though you can if that’s your preference). But do talk about the subject before you decide if it’s one bill or two. And don’t feel obligated to pay someone’s way or allow someone to pay yours.
11. Cool It on Dating Apps
These days, there are plenty of pros to online dating apps. Apps are convenient, and if you’re in a dating slump, getting online can help add some excitement to your life and help you land a date.
However, it’s easy to get carried away with these apps, which can be surprisingly expensive. While there are free dating sites, most platforms have a sign-up fee or require a paid membership to unlock the full platform. If you pay for several apps, you’re looking at hundreds of dollars per year before you’ve even gone on any dates.
Plenty of Fish and Match.com are affordable options that cater to a slightly older audience. For young singles, apps like Tinder and Bumble are incredibly popular and have enough free functionality to kickstart your dating life.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with paying for a dating service. Just budget for it along with the dates you get out of it.
12. Keep Your Social Life Affordable
When you’re single, keeping up with your social life is imperative outside just going on dates. According to a 2016 study published in Current Psychology, support from family and friends helps mitigate the impact of loneliness that can sometimes come with being single.
However, it’s also easy to get carried away with spending on social outings. Dinner with friends, drinks after work, and weekend getaways add up fast. If you want to keep socializing from derailing your budget, you can use several tricks, including:
- Hosting cookouts instead of going out for dinner
- Having a cheap beach day with friends
- Joining inexpensive sports leagues with friends
- Organizing family game nights or movie nights with friends rather than going to bars
And learn to say no if you’re stressed about financial repercussions. You need to strike a balance between fun and responsible spending habits. If you can’t afford something, don’t partake. Similarly, if you’re going to spend money, make sure it’s on something you actually enjoy and that you aren’t spending out of a sense of obligation to friends or family.
13. Save Money on Solo Travel
It doesn’t matter if you’re taking a post-breakup backpacking trip or spending a weekend in the Caribbean. Travel can get expensive if you don’t try to cut costs. That scares many singles into putting off their travel plans entirely or sticking to shorter domestic trips.
There’s nothing wrong with that if you don’t have the travel bug. But if you like to travel, there are many ways to save money on travel.
For starters, use your flexibility to your advantage. For example, you can save money on international travel by taking red-eye flights, which are more difficult with a partner or kids. Similarly, you can select a cheap travel destination and focus on seeing attractions and meeting new people rather than staying in an expensive hotel.
There are also ways to make travel more social if the idea of solo travel is intimidating. Staying in hostels or group Airbnbs is ideal because you can save money compared to staying in a hotel and make friends with the people you share a living space with. Alternatively, singles travel groups let you explore a new country alongside other singles who enjoy traveling. Travel groups have more structure and typically follow a travel itinerary, so if you want more autonomy while traveling, opt for a hostel.
Finally, don’t forget to sign up for a travel rewards credit card if you have serious travel plans coming up. Between sign-up bonuses, cash-back rewards, and travel discounts, the right card can easily help you cut down on your annual travel expenses without much effort.
14. Improve Your Credit Score
Having a good credit score not only allows you to borrow more money, it saves you money in the long run.
There’s a chance your credit score has taken a hit from student loans, bad decisions, or even a divorce. While that’s sometimes unavoidable, improving it is vital.
A good credit score makes it cheaper to borrow money so you can build equity and own property instead of always paying your landlord. Additionally, potential employers often run credit checks, so a low score can hurt your job prospects.
You can check your credit score for free through a free annual credit report. Websites like Credit Karma also let you check your score for free so you know where you stand and whether you need to start rebuilding your credit.
15. Start Planning for Retirement
Retirement planning isn’t something you start when you’re in your fifties and want to quit your job. In reality, successful retirement planning is a lifelong process, and the earlier you begin saving, the better.
If you’re busy with single life and want to keep things simple, robo-advisors like Betterment or SoFi Invest can invest your money into portfolios that match your investing goals and level of risk aversion.
Modern robo-advisors are also versatile when it comes to account options, and many let you open tax-advantaged accounts like a traditional or Roth IRA. You can also check whether your employer offers 401(k) matching and make an effort to maximize your contributions.
You don’t need a six-figure salary to begin planning for retirement, but you should start as soon as you can.
16. Save for Long-Term Goals
It’s essential to save for long-term goals to avoid dipping into emergency or retirement funds. Life can change quickly, but take time to think about what you want for the next five to 10 years of your life and start planning your savings. Do you want to buy a new car? Do you want to get married? Will kids be in the picture one day?
Once you set some bigger-picture goals, set a portion of your monthly income aside in a high-yield savings account. When it’s time for a major purchase, you can follow through with confidence because the money’s there. You can set up different high-yield savings or investment accounts, each with its own goal.
For example, you might have a 401(k) with your employer for employer-matched retirement savings, a separate account at a robo-advisor for your own additional retirement contributions, and two CIT Savings Builder accounts, one for your emergency fund and another for a down payment on the house you plan to buy in a few years.
You’re the one in charge of your future, and it’s essential you build beneficial financial habits now to set yourself up for the future you want, regardless of your age. That’s even more vital if you’re trying to save as a single parent since you have to set both yourself and your kids up for success.
And there are numerous financial advantages singles can take advantage of. As long as you focus on investing in yourself and work on your financial goals, being single can help you make impactful leaps in accumulating wealth.