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Is It More Expensive to be Single?

Posted By Miranda Marquit On 08/14/2013 @ 12:06 pm In Personal Finance | 10 Comments

The Millennial marriage [3] 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 [4] 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 [5] 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 [6] 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 [7])


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[1] Tweet: http://twitter.com/share

[2] Email: mailto:?subject=http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/expensive-single.html

[3] Millennial marriage: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/millennials-money-modern-marriage.html

[4] DOMA ruling: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/samesex-couples-doma-ruling-result-big-tax-refunds.html

[5] financial benefits of getting married: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/money-reasons-married.html

[6] one partner stays home: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/women-choosing-to-stay-home.html

[7] Lendl Peralta: http://www.flickr.com/photos/34453666@N06/3571071475

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