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How to Save Money as a Single Person

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Photo: NDAB Creativity (Shutterstock)

Whether you love the single life or can’t wait to be coupled up, one thing is sure: It’s expensive to be single. We’ve previously covered personal finance tips to take advantage of while you’re single, but the costs of being alone are rarely a result of personal failure. Instead, our economy privileges partnership—specifically marriage, but also in the simple fact that it pays to have a second income. Here are all the ways that being single ends up costing more than being married, and what you can do to save money as a single person.

Our economy is not designed to help single people

From first-date drinks and takeout for one to no one to help split streaming subscription costs, there are plenty of small-scale expenses that come with being single. But the real penalties of living single are much larger.

Writing for The Atlantic in 2013, Lisa Arnold and Christina Campbell found that over a lifetime, it can cost upwards of $1 million more to be unmarried than married. More recently, The Skimm reports an unmarried woman would need to earn 65% of a two-person household income to reach the same standard of living as a (hetero) married couple. The reason for this, as Vox explains, is that American society is “structurally antagonistic” toward single people, since many economic breaks still revolve around the institution of marriage. You can see it in the benefits for retirement accounts, social security, and health insurance. And of course there’s the tax code, in which the “single” versus “married” filing status is still rooted in 1950s middle-class marriages of couples who own their homes. Forget the costs of throwing a big wedding: It looks like choosing not to get married is the expensive choice.

Tips to save when you’re single

So what can you do when you can’t single-handedly restructure the American tax system? Here are small but attainable tips to saving more when you’re a single person.

First, determine where you can cut back. A unique advantage of being single is your control over your financial decisions. You can choose how and where to rein in your spending without needing to factor in other people or some drawn-out discussion.

Another simple way to save is to perfect your single-living skills, like learning how to cook for one person. It helps to know how not to doom yourself to the same leftovers all week. Similarly, here are some more tips for saving money at the grocery store.

Finally, learn how to fill your social life with affordable options. Avoid financial peer pressure, and come to the table with affordable alternatives. Here’s a list of ideas for social plans that won’t break the bank. And again, here are more of our personal finance tips to take advantage of while you’re single.

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