7 ways single people have it tough
For starters, saving enough for retirement with just one income can be a daunting feat.
Nearly 44% of U.S. adults -- 99.6 million folks, nearly a third of whom live alone (.pdf file) -- are not married and that number keeps growing all the time. So why does it seem that married people are getting all the breaks, particularly financial ones? They certainly have it easier, particularly if they choose not to have kids.
Think about it, fellow singles: When I realized it often takes two incomes to live comfortably in many parts of the U.S., I knew I had to:
- Live frugally.
- Live where the cost of housing is low, and choose a smaller house than many people would consider desireable.
- Save, save and save some more.
All that, so I could have enough for my retirement years -- which can be a daunting responsibility for a person with one income. (Are you saving enough? Try this calculator.)
As if that weren't hard enough, a social stigma lingers against those who haven't tied the knot. Sociologist Naomi Gerstel told The New York Times, "There is this push for marriage in the straight community and in the gay community, essentially assuming that if you don't get married there is something wrong with you." That's so unfair.
Let's look at some of the ways married couples have the upper hand financially:
Retirement savings. "Despite the perception that 'single people have got it made,' they have the very big hurdle of having only one income" to fund their retirement plan, Joe Mont wrote at The Street.
Also, a new study by Schwab "found that singles are actually significantly less prepared and less confident than married individuals in their retirement readiness -- 85% of married Americans have already started to save, compared with only 67% of singles," Mont reported.
Family obligations. Single people are more often caregivers of aging parents. Says the Council on Contemporary Families, "While 68% of married women give help to their parents, 84% of the never married provide such care. And while just 38% of married men help out their parents, 67% of never married men do." It's been noted that being a caregiver can cause a substantial drain on finances. Post continues below.
Housing. This is simple math. Married couples with two incomes have more money to spend on housing, but don't require twice as much space. Add to that Internet, cable and utility bills split between two people.
Taxes. The marriage penalty doesn't apply to many couples. Also, Bankrate notes: "The overwhelming majority of married couples do -- and should -- file jointly. Usually, couples can save thousands of dollars filing together." How nice for them.
Travel. Ed Perkins at Smarter Travel points out:
Package tour operators and cruise lines openly and formally discriminate against single travelers. They price their products on the basis of "per person, double occupancy," and almost always impose a supplement --often quite stiff -- on singles who travel by themselves.
Assorted other perks. Bella DePaulo, author of "Singlism: What It Is, Why It Matters and How to Stop It," wrote on the Living Single blog at Psychology Today:
Who gets the breaks on car insurance, health insurance, vacation packages, and gym memberships? Married couples do! The singles who pay full price are subsidizing them. If you have followed the same-sex marriage debate, you probably already know that there are 1,138 provisions in federal laws in which marital status is the basis of benefits, rights, and privileges.
Safety net. If I get sick or lose my job, there's no one to help me pay the bills. That makes having a substantial emergency fund absolutely essential.
According to a survey by uSwitch, the average annual premium for being single works out to nearly $7,400. This added cost is a byproduct of "having to carry the full burden of a mortgage, holiday (hotels, cruises, etc.) costs, insurance premiums and utility bills."
OK, do I have a point? Are single people paying a steep price for living alone, or do the benefits -- the freedom to do what you want, etc. -- outweigh the burdens?
More on MSN Money:
What is it with this roommate garbage? I do not make a 6 figure income, I own my own place and don't need, nor want, nor would I have a roommate. Seriously, what is the point of being single if you have a roommate? Scale down your housing expectations, manage your money better and you don't need a roommate.
Oh... and I wouldn't trade my freedom for that second bedroom for anything.
i don't know about anyone else but this article is quite the contrary for me. for example, i make roughly the same as my married brother who is one year my junior who actually has two incomes coming through and i am doing far better than them. and no, i am the one with the mortgage, THEY rent! the difference is i don't have someone spending most of my paycheck at the mall :D
It would be an honor to be a caregiver for my parents. Whatever the cost may be.
It's better not hearing yak, yak, yak. Where have you been? blah, blah, blah
I am in my late 40's and went through a crippling divorce from an addict that left me bankrupt, because as a Dad getting custody of his daughter - the court system is highly prejudiced. So I get myself almost on track, being a single Dad after getting custody through 5 years of h_ll... I don't get the minimum wage, court ordered child support from the low-life ex-wife who moved out-of-state to avoid the consequences of being a deadbeat Mom. .. and the economy wipes away a huge chunk of my meager 401K. I am working to get my daughter through university and have to go into more debt because I am not considered 'poverty' and 'need based' college funding that my taxes support are not available to me.
So I get to read how I am now being consistently prejudiced and penalized by society for not being anxious to 'jump' into another marriage just so I can have a partner. ADC1234 and the likes can kiss my ***.
Anyway, I'm single and thriving on one income. I've never had a roommate because I personally wouldn't consider the savings to be "worth it" to give up a piece of my freedom and privacy.
I disagree. I am single earning a six figure income with a good 401k, own a home and two rental properties. I save over 22% of my income. Most importantly, being married is not what it is cracked up to be. Many of my married relatives and close friends are unhappy, broke, no retirement accounts, and do not own homes. One relative is actually renting a unit I own with her sorry husband.
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