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Is It More Expensive to be Single?

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I am aloneThe Millennial marriage reflects changes in society, and one of those is a later marriage age.

Many people put off marriage — and some even think that it’s unnecessary to marry at all. In fact, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, 61% of the 100 million single adults in America have never been married. That Census also marked the first time that married couples make up less than half of the households in the United States.

While many people feel fulfilled while single, in spite of society’s insistence that they “need” a partner to truly enjoy life (and that marriage should be the ultimate goal), there is one reason to consider marriage: It could be cheaper.

Why It’s Expensive to Stay Single

The recent DOMA ruling leaves a lot of questions that still need to be answered, but for some gay couples, being seen as married in the eyes of the federal government means instant savings. This goes for straight couples as well. There are more than 1,000 laws on the books that specifically offer benefits (financial and legal) to married couples. Since marriage is still considered a societal good, these benefits have been justified. The fact that single people don’t have access to some of the financial benefits designed for married couples means that it’s instantly more expensive to be single.

Some of the financial benefits of getting married can be duplicated, to some degree, by finding a roommate. Housing costs, transportation costs, food costs, and other living expenses can be split with a roommate just as well as with a spouse. But there are some things, like preferable tax treatment and health care benefits, that you just can’t duplicate by getting a roommate.

In many cases, taxes are the big thing. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 51% of married couples pay less by filing jointly than they would have had they filed as singles. The average savings was $1,300. While there are lots of things to take into consideration, a simple calculation, assuming that you are married for 40 years, indicates that being single could cost you $52,000 more over your lifetime — just in taxes. For couples with wide disparities in income (especially if one partner stays home without much income at all), the tax savings add up to more.

Married couples can also decide between the best deal when it comes to health benefits and other work-related benefits. Spouses also get to choose whether to receive Social Security benefits based on their own work history, or their spouse’s. So, if my husband wanted, he could receive benefits based on my longer work history — and my higher pay. That’s something a single person couldn’t choose to do.

All in all, after adding everything up, being single is an expensive proposition. The BBC recently reported that singles spend £250,000 more over their lifetimes, by the time costs related to not splitting the mortgage, taxes, and other items are considered. At the current exchange rate, that translates into $387,500 over your lifetime.

So, what do you make of this? Do you think it’s really more expensive to be single? And would consider getting married if it meant you could save almost $400,000 over your lifetime?

(Photo: Lendl Peralta)

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10 Responses to “Is It More Expensive to be Single?”

  1. admiral58 says:

    Even from a living experience, having a 1br apartment for one person vs. two people is quite a lot more

  2. AA says:

    Extremely one sided article. Have you considered the following costs of marriage?
    1) Wedding ceremonies and related stuff
    2) Divorce (statistically divorce rate is 50% and post-divorce asset loss is 70%, so the expected loss of assets from marriage is 35%).
    3) Increased in cost of living and expenses. Yes, while there may be economy of scale in living together, it only works if your spouse is not a spending your money excessively.

  3. The Warrior says:

    For Mrs. Warrior and I, it’s a lot cheaper not being single. When we were single we were trying to impress any and everyone, but now we are just old farts and do the few things we truly want together and spend money on those things.

    The Warrior
    NetWorthWarrior.com

  4. Jim says:

    There is one more advantage to being married that is not mentioned. When married, each time money is spent or an investment is made, there are two minds thinking over the decision. As a well-educated and financially astute single, I can’t tell you how many times I have made stupid financial mistakes, both in spending money and in investing. These mistakes would not have happened if I had someone thinking these things over with me.

  5. Elloo says:

    The world is more financially set up for couples I think. Following this thought…I hate to throw water on this topic. The divorce rate is pretty high. So I keep thinking about the high cost of divorce! So..single or marrried.. it may be a wash for many.

  6. other49 says:

    Hm we must be in the other 49%. My income taxes are more expensive after marriage…

  7. That number from BBC looks crazy, even though I suppose that it would vary a lot from one person to another.

  8. Texas Wahoo says:

    “In many cases, taxes are the big thing. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 51% of married couples pay less by filing jointly than they would have had they filed as singles. The average savings was $1,300. While there are lots of things to take into consideration, a simple calculation, assuming that you are married for 40 years, indicates that being single could cost you $52,000 more over your lifetime — just in taxes.”

    This seems extremely misleading. 51% of married couples are paying less, with an average savings of $1,300. That means that 49% of people are paying more (unless there are any that are exactly the same). Are they paying an average of $1,300 or more higher than they would? It looks like it’s a money saver for about half of people and a money loser for the rest.

  9. Mike says:

    It is way freaking cheaper being single for any man.

    End of discussion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. adam carolla fan says:

    Mike Mcdermott’s old friend Worm said it best:

    “In the poker game of life…women are the RAKE. They are the freaking (sic) rake!”

    End of discussion!!!!!!!!!!!!


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