Single? Here’s How To Make It Work Financially
Young. Free. Single. Most of the time you’re living the dream. But when the universe starts throwing at you singles supplements, two-for-one deals and only half the home deposit you need, being single kind of sucks.
Don’t worry – you can make this situation work for you. There are lots of financial benefits as a single person so long as you’re open to them.
#1 Embrace Your Financial Independence
When you’re on your own, all your money is yours – every single cent. When you’re in a relationship, however, there’s someone else to consider. You might not own a place together or share a bank account, but financial decisions are going to come into play at some point in the relationship.
As a single person, you can make plans assuming you’re the only contributor to the money pool. How much do you want to earn in the next five years? What are you saving for? What account should you put your money in to maximise your savings? Taking control and educating yourself on your finances (possibly by seeing a financial planner) will help you become switched on with matters like superannuation, home loans and investments – knowledge that will serve you well into the future.
#2 Share, share, share
You may be flying solo, but it doesn’t mean you have to save money alone. Consider your living situation and whether you can further limit your spending. Live in a share house? Maybe it’s time to take a communal approach by bulk-buying from suppliers, whether it be for basic goods, fruit and vegetables, or even toilet paper. Having a cooking roster or meals together can help build friendships with your housemates while also minimising waste and taking some stress off cooking every night.
Buying and maintaining a car is an expensive undertaking, so consider spending more time on your bike (the perfect single’s vehicle) and public transport where possible. For the times that you really do need a car, services like Go Get and Flexicar will give you the convenience without the cost.
#3 Find your platonic ‘others’
Whether it’s buying a house, or even your own business, romantic partners aren’t the only people who can support you through big life decisions. For some lucky people, your parents may be able to help you with initial capital for big purchases, or at least guide you through the process because they’ve done it before. Perhaps a friend is also looking to buy a house but doesn’t quite have the savings, or a colleague is interested in investing; buying something together can help defray the cost. If you do enter into these arrangements, ensure you have legally binding agreements in case anything goes awry with your business (or home loan) partners – that includes family members, if they’re involved.
With day-to-day expenses, consider combining forces with a friend who has similar eating habits by bulk-buying together at your local market. Host regular clothes swap days to refresh your wardrobe without breaking the bank. Who said that two-for-one airfares were only meant for couples? With a platonic other, anything is possible.
#4 Put your money where you want to put it
In a relationship, it’s fun to double your social network by meeting new friends and family – but this comes with obligations. The older you get, the more weddings there seem to be; and with weddings come new outfits, presents and often travel expenses. Add to that birthdays, any other gift-giving occasions or ‘couples trips’ to places you never intended to visit, and suddenly your discretionary spending is severely depleted.
These unintended expenses aren’t all bad – part of a great relationship is being open to new experiences. But when it’s just you, embrace the fact that only you have to decide where your money goes. Spend money on what is meaningful to you and for people you care about. Travel to the places you want to go, because you never know when you’ll need to start compromising.
#5 Open up to adventure
Not everybody needs to drop everything and travel the world to find themselves. But as a single person, you can! Just knowing that you have the option of doing whatever you want to do is extremely liberating. Sign up for those Italian classes just for the fun of it. Loosen up those knots with a massage in a fancy day spa. Buy the same shoes in two different colours because you can.
When you’re unattached is a great time to do that three-month trip to South America or find work in London. If travel isn’t on your radar, now is a good time to do further study or investigate your career options. You won’t be restricted by geography, and where money is concerned, you’ll only need to consult with yourself.
#6 Work harder
In your 20s you’ve probably entered the workforce, toyed around with a few different careers and asked for a promotion. Being single gives you the chance to be a little selfish and focus on what you want. If this requires working a few extra hours here and there (or taking up a side-project) so be it – there’s no partner waiting at home or on the phone complaining that you don’t give them enough attention.
Being single also means your decisions will be less clouded by the opinions of someone you love. If you’re dating a more conservative spender, for example, they might steer you towards a more traditional, stable career path despite your inclination for holding down a few more thrilling part-time jobs at the same time.
Nobody really knows what the future holds, but with the right attitude you can tackle it alone. Take this as an opportunity to set your priorities in order so that if and when the right person comes along, money – one of the biggest sources of conflict in relationships – will be the last thing you’re worried about.
Chelsea McIver is a freelance writer and editor based in Melbourne. Her work appears in titles including VICE, Junkee, Broadsheet and The Big Issue. Tweet her @ChelseaMcIver