Being single can be challenging, but no-one ever talks about how financially difficult being single can be. Did you realise there was a financial cost?
As a society we don’t often discuss finances. We’re great at sharing good deals and our most recent bargains, how often have you heard “I like your jumper/shoes/dress’, with the response ‘it only cost £10/15/20’?
But we don’t discuss the money that matters.
No-one talks about how much they earn or how much they save. No-one really talks about how much money they’re spending or what they spend it on.
I’m pretty money savvy. I was brought up that way, always looking for the best deals. And to be honest I can sometimes be a bit judgy about the way people do spend their money. But despite being smart with money, it’s become a huge barrier in my life.
I want to buy a house.
It’s all I’ve wanted to do in the last few years. I live in an expensive city and I’m tired of living like a student and sharing with others. I have an ok salary, I’ve been saving for 5 years. So I should be able to afford a house. But I can’t.
Why? Because I’m single.
How many people are looking at the screen thinking how wrong I am, how that can’t possibly be right, how discriminatory it is? Well it is. And it makes me angry because of how unfair it is.
Let me explain.
Whilst unfair it’s highly logical. Mortgage lenders generally give you 4.5 times your income. You add this figure to the deposit you have saved and this is the value of a property you can get. Simple enough.
But there’s only one of me. So there is only one salary. If I was part of a couple and we bought a house together, there would be two salaries. This means a LOT more money available for a mortgage.
Some quick maths…
A quick internet search tells me the average salary is around £28,000. This would give a mortgage of £126,000. The couple, assuming both have an average salary (£56,000) would now have £252,000. You can get a lot more property for this amount of money and you wouldn’t need such a big deposit (which also, would be bigger as there would be two people saving for it). Both individuals could be earning a lot less than me, but have a much bigger mortgage. This would also mean they probably have more disposable income, and frustratingly get out of the renting game YEARS before me. That’s years of wasted rent money that I have, that they get to spend on their home.
Can you feel the annoyance seeping off the page? Because this one’s been getting to me for years. My singleness is costing me. Forcing me to rent, forcing me to take a slower route to owning a home. I can be earning a lot more than a friend, but their having a partner gives them a financial boost in life. I know banks can’t do anything about it, it wouldn’t make sense, but it just doesn’t feel fair. It affects me and millions of other single people around the World.
We are forced to be less well off. It’s like a tax on the single person.
Being in a relationship has so many positive effects in society. As being single has so many negative ones (I’ve written about some of these here:https://www.singleisalliknow.co.uk/when-youre-the-only-single-one) . Having only ever been single I hadn’t really noticed the financial effects until my buying a house conundrum. But this is far from the only financial difference between single and coupled individuals.
The Single Person Surcharge
I discovered this one this summer when booking tours and activities for my holiday. A ticket for one does not cost half the price of a ticket for two. In some cases there’s a small difference, due to booking and admin fees. Other times they’re much bigger. Getting one flight ticket is about 60% of the cost of two. When you’re going somewhere expensive, that’s a large difference.
It’s even worse when it comes to accommodation. Getting the same room at a hotel or as part of a tour package usually only costs slightly more for two people than one person. Again, perfectly logical from the companies perspective, but still unfair on the solo traveller. It makes travel much more expensive as a single person and is a reason that many single people feel that hey can’t do solo travel.
Bills and living costs
Every household has bills and expenses. As the number of people increases, so do the associated costs. But it is not directly proportional. Splitting bills equally between two will result in lower cost bills than one person living on their own.
I’ve already mentioned rent, but it’s a massive point. Letting agencies will (in most cases) charge more for the same property for two tenants instead of one. But it’s usually not more than 10-20% more. That makes rent for both individuals in the couple a lot less.
The ability to share
Some of the cost saving for a couple as mentioned above is the ability to share space when renting. Sharing isn’t limited to space.
If you compare a couple with a single individual, both starting in new homes needing to furnish and equip it, the couple comes out with more cash to spare. The things needed are the same in both scenarios. A new sofa, TV, oven, refrigerator… The cost of each thing is halved for the individuals in the couple, but all individuals will, regardless of marital status, be purchasing these things for their home. To a lesser extent it also works with food costs too, where buying in bulk is generally cheaper.
Some shocking differences
So far nothing has been too surprising. They might not be obvious, but as you’ve thought about each point it makes sense. I discussed the financial costs with my twitter followers. I wanted to know what I’d missed or hadn’t experienced. And one thing really shocked me.
I spoke to one individual on twitter who was made redundant from her job. The payout she received was considerably less than if she had been married or had children. Their reasoning? “The outgoings of a single person is less”. Well, I’d agree that a single individual compared to someone with dependents has fewer outgoing. But I think I’ve made it perfectly clear that a single person does not have fewer outgoings than an individual in a couple…
All of these things make being single more expensive.
It means we have less money to spend on other ventures, and those ventures are probably more expensive for us anyway. It also means we have fewer savings so less financial security and potentially more worries for the future because of this. In some cases, particularly those people struggling financially, being single can be a real burden and with the added bonus of having no-one to share that burden with.
Being financially less well off is annoying, it’s an inconvenience but it’s survivable, for me. But I know this is not the case for some people. The extra costs can cause real challenges in some peoples’ lives, causing problems far beyond the financial…
That’s not to say there aren’t financial costs associated with being in a relationship.
Date nights, birthday gifts etc. etc. But the difference is optional vs compulsory. Excluding travel, everything else I have mentioned are the compulsory costs of life: rent, bills, food and so on. These things are all higher in cost for single people. Those things that are higher cost for non-single people are optional. That seems to be forgotten too…
I’ve only scratched the surface of the financial differences between single and coupled people. I’m sure there are lots more (please add them in the comments!) but I hope people will start to see that there are real tangible differences that have a real impact on lives.
Find more posts about single life here:https://www.singleisalliknow.co.uk/category/single-life/
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