How to Deal With the Single's Penalty
Make single living less expensive
Here's a phrase you're not going to like: the single's penalty.
I'm sorry to be the one to say it, but if you're single, you're getting hit by a small financial penalty. You most likely spend a higher percentage of your income on your basic cost of living than a couple would.
If you're single, you need to pay for your rent or mortgage, utilities, groceries, your car, car insurance, gasoline and other basics from your income alone.
Couples have these same expenses and can split them. Most couples have the added bonus of having two incomes to tackle them. While expenses may rise with two people factored into the equation, they won't directly double.
In other words, two people can live almost as cheaply as one, particularly if they're sharing a car. That adds up to a "penalty" that single people or couples on a single income face.
I'm not telling you this to get you depressed about your singlehood status. I'm writing this so that you can figure out ways to beat the single's penalty and reduce your basic costs.
Here are a few tips.
1. Tackle Your Housing Bill
Housing by far is the biggest expense penalty that single people have to face. The most effective way to lower this is by getting a roommate or a housemate.
Sure, renting a two-bedroom apartment might cost a little more money than renting a one-bedroom, but it's not going to double your rent or utility bills. Getting a roommate is the best way to replicate the couples, two people can live as cheaply as one, experience and enjoy that same financial relief.
If you're not willing to get a roommate, here are a few other ideas.
Downsize into a smaller space and embrace minimalism, the art of owning fewer butt better items. Getting rid of clutter and living in a smaller space can reduce both your rent or mortgage costs and your utility bills.
Check out house-sitting gigs which allow you to live rent-free at someone else's home in exchange for looking after their property while they're gone. Try renting out a portion of your home on Airbnb. If you're not willing to commit to a permanent roommate, you could at least offset a portion of your rent or mortgage payment by occasionally renting out your spare bedroom.
2. Buy in Bulk
Buying large quantities of food at the grocery store is cheaper than buying smaller single-serve packs. Buy in bulk and mass prepare food over the weekend or on a day off of work. Refrigerate anything that you can eat within the week, and freeze all of the portions that will take you longer than one week to eat.
This way, you still get the benefit of buying in bulk, and as a bonus, you won't have to spend a whole bunch of time cooking other than one dedicated day per every few weeks or months.
3. Buy in Bulk and Split Things With Friends
There's no reason that you and a couple of your single friends can't buy bulk items. Focus on non-perishables like toilet paper, paper towels, soap, dish detergent, and things that won't spoil or go bad.
Finding even one other friend who's willing to go in on a bunch of bulk purchases with you could help you save over the cost of buying these individual items.
4. Reduce Your Transportation
It might not be possible to share a car with a significant other, but that doesn't mean you're stuck with massive transportation bills. Rent or buy a home in an area that has good public transit and walkability.
Make pedestrian friendliness one of the chief criteria you look for when you're searching for a place to live. The more that you can walk or ride your bike from space to space, the less money you'll have to spend on your car. You might even reach a point where you won't need a car depending on where you live.
If you do own a car, and you're struggling to make the payments, give some thought to selling your current vehicle and replacing it with an older used car. You can buy reliable vehicles for as little as $3,000 to $5,000.
Being single doesn't mean you're stuck paying the greater percentage of your income towards basic necessities. Get creative, live frugally, and look for friends who can split costs with you. A few simple moves could lower your bills by as much as hundreds every month.