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Day 190: Why being single is more expensive

- Marvel Comics Retro

So, ages and ages ago I read this really good book called Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After. In it, the author describes how so many things are designed for married couples - married folks get better deals on travel deals, auto insurance and club memberships. Married people are able to add their spouse (and children) to their work insurance, but single people can't add anybody else.

None of these things apply to me, as I a) can't afford to travel anywhere (though there are lots of places I'd like to go to!), b) don't drive, c) don't belong to any clubs. But think about it. Sooo many things are designed to be shared between two people (or a family of four), and if both of those people have incomes, then they are each spending less than one single person would.

Even in The Game of Life, you get more points when you have little people in your car.

Now, if you go on a dollar-by-dollar basis and look at a couple where only one person works, then the couple probably spends more money per person (because that's one salary paying for two peoples' lives). But if both are working? Total ripoff for single people!

Bridget Jones is ANGRY! Why are singletons being SUBJUGATED in this manner?
Must smoke twice as many cigarettes to make up for it.

It goes both ways, I suppose. Having kids means you have to buy more food and clothes (and they can't work to earn their keep - damn labour laws), but you also get government allowance to ensure that your kids don't starve to death. AND you get tax benefits for having kids (right? I always skip over 99/100 of the tax form since my life is so dullsville). And I may be remembering wrong, but I think in France they've started giving out tax breaks for people who don't have kids. That could be totally untrue, but you heard it here first! Watch it become a viral internet rumour!

And for me, I find it more expensive to be a single person because of MEAL PLANNING! If you're cooking for two (or four, or seven, or the entire Jolie-Pitt family) you can make up a big batch of something and it gets eaten up in a day or two. When I make a big batch of something, I eat it... and eat it... and eat it... and then shove it in the back of my fridge and will myself to forget about it so it can go rotten so I can throw it out without feeling wasteful. I like variety in my meals, so making a huge dish of anything is not a good plan - so I buy smaller portions of everything, which costs more on a per capita basis.

I'd prefer to hang out with the Von Trapp family rather than the Jolie-Pitts any day.

It's also obviously more expensive to pay rent when you're living by yourself. I adore my cat, and I think she'd be a fantastic cat model, but I don't want to expose her to that lifestyle and turn her into a little Lindsay Lohan child-star-gone-awry cat, so she does not work at the moment. Well, she works very hard to shed as much fur as possible, and sleep and be as cute as possible, but her only payment is in food and water. And little mouse toys every now and then. And tuna.

Hepburn the cat, working her fierce Canada's Next Top Cat Model smize-face
But anyway! It's just me and the cat living here, and if there was another person, it would all be cheaper (and also a lot more squished and awkward - where would the extra person go? There's not room for another person in here.) And I think the luxury of being lazy and messy and living on my own is worth a little more rent.

Oh, and when you've got a partner and a family, you can put your incomes all together and buy a HOUSE! And then you can do frugal things like hang your clothes on a clothesline and plant a vegetable garden! (note: you can obviously do these things on your own too, but it's a lot more expensive).

So, whatever. Like everything where I try and find a definite answer, there are thrifty things about being on your own AND about being partnered up, with or without kids. But there are so many money blogs out there where people with kids are doing amazing things with frugality, that I felt the need to whine a little.

As they say on Twitter, #whitegirlproblems.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In the "Singled Out" book, she mythbusts the idea that single people will be sad and alone in nursing homes whereas people with kids will be lovingly tended to by the aforementioned children. I say, screw both options and go live in a hotel as suggested by Budgets Are Sexy. It's totally cheaper, I swear. Plus super fabulous and luxurious.


Lizzie @ her homeworld said...

Being single doesn't cost more. What costs more is spreading the bills between across more than one person. it is just economics. You have the options to go on holiday, buy a house, rent a flat etc with someone who is not a child or life partner. Still single but smaller portion of the bills. If my husband and kids decided to buy a house each (and don't think i haven't considered it when they are all squabbling about sometimes) then it would cost us 4 times as much too.
You get all the pleasure of that peace and quiet and space and choosing what to watch on Tv, you have to pay for it!! or maybe living in a commune is the way to go.

Mint said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mint said...

What a coincidence, my cat's name is Audrey! Your Hepburn is so cute :)

I totally agree with you on this. The only other thing that's more expensive than being single, is being in a relationship with a significant other who doesn't live with you. You cook meals for your boyfriend (that's extra food you have to buy, and of course I'm not going to ask him to reimburse me), or go out to eat often for date nights. You each pay your own rent for your own apartments (essentially, double rent). The list goes on!

I'm just going to enjoy the little perks of single life while I still have it :)

centsofacountrygirl said...

I couldn't agree more. Everything is much more expensive when you can't split it two ways. The single travel charges make my blood boil, woe betides any poor hotel worker or travel agent who ever tells me that I have to pay for a nonexistent person.

Aw well, at least us single gals can say we did it all on our own, at the end of the day.

vie said...

Some magical day when we're not paying $1600 a month for child care i'll agree with you. =)

wheresmomsmoney said...

I think you have some very valid points but that either way, life is expensive, either single OR married/involved with a sig other!

A poster above mentioned child care and I definitely agree! The costs of raising and nurturing a child are staggering. The tax break barely makes a dent when compared to the costs. But that's definitely a choice and an expense that, in our case, we are happy to make even if it means cutting out other things from our budget.


Anonymous said...

I was a stay at home mom for years and we were POOR! As in "driving an old Chevette that was given to us my our parents" poor. But just like anything else, you muddle through, finally get a second income and Voila! 20 odd years later the mortgage is finally paid off. I agree that you save money as a couple, but a childless couple would probably be the most frugal option. As for cooking for one, I use the "Cook once, Eat twice" method (google it, there are great recipe ideas).

Annabelle said...

Wow, great comments, everyone!

@Lizzie - living in a commune probably is the most frugal option... but you're right, I'm HAPPY to pay a bit more for peace & quiet!

@Mint - aw, I bet your Audrey's adorbs too! And the situation you outline is actually what my situation is - dating and living separately. Twice as expensive for everything, but we both really value our alone-time, so it works best for us.

@centsofacountrygirl - woot! Hands up for the single ladies! Hate the whole pay-for-double-occupancy thing, even when you're on your own.

@vie - once they're in school and Ms S is old enoughto babysit, you'll have sooo much extra cash you won't know what to do with it! Alternative: set them both to work as child stars (that's what's done in California, right?)

@wheresmomsmoney - totally agree. It's all about what people are willing to pay for, and what's valuable to them.

@cyndi - got to look that up - "cook once, eat twice"is about my limit. By the third day of eating, I am usually quite over whatever it is I'm supposed to be eating. Congrats for paying off the mortgage!!

Harri @ TotallyMoney said...

I'm new to this blog and LOVE this post! (Incidentally I'm glad that you don't want to turn your cat into a little Lindsay Lohan child-star-gone-awry cat). Comparing my singledom with now I figure it's all about economies of scale. Whilst having children is expensive, as is the house to accommodate them, it feels more frugal driving four people, cooking for four and washing four people's clothes than doing all of the above for one.

I'm massively with you and Mint. Dating someone without living with them racks up the bills in no time. I soon ended up with two wardrobes (one at his, one at mine).

Anonymous said...

I am a firm believer that people should be able to claim someone as a dependent who isn't either a spouse, child, or parent. Families are complicated and I just spent two years living with my brother because of difficulties he was having. He helped with the rent but it was unfairly hard on my bills. The financial and emotional toll was large. Revenue Canada should have given me a pat on the back for being there for my family. It's definition of family is still too narrow.

- a former mentor of yours (Chrissy)

Frugal Student said...

Yes being single can cost more, or it can cost less. If you make a large portion of something, put some in the freezer. Get a roommate and then your housing can go down. My DH and I buy large amounts of meat and freeze them but we also split the largest amounts (40 lb) with friends.

Annabelle said...

@Harri - welcome to the blog! It really does seem like diving up finances between 4 people works out a lot more frugally than just for one. I've not reached the point of two wardrobes (luckily our aprs are walking distance) but it makes me jealous (financially!) of people who get to split up the bills.

@Christine - that sucks that you couldnt get benefits for living with your brother! The whole system is set up to best suit the needs of married/partnered people, not people with untraditional families!

@FrugalStudent - the whole freezer thing requires a lot of organization, when your freezer is as small as mine. I bet I can make space though, since it sounds like such a great idea!

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