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is being single & staying single less expensive...in the long run?

June 10th, 2008 at 06:40 pm

There was a time (in the not so distant past) when I thought that having a husband/partner/mate would not only increase my overall happiness quotient, but also make life more cost effective. After all, everything would be shared between the two of us -- the good, the bad and the bills: mortgage, check; monthly dinners out, check; income taxes, double CHECK! Sounds like a promising proposition...where do I sign up?

Of course, my error lies in the assumption that my potential husband/partner/mate would be in the same (if not higher) income bracket as I am. Not that I earn a significant amount of money...I think this applies to whatever bracket you're in.

But what if he made less...significantly less? From a PURELY FINANCIAL perspective this would, no doubt, cause a few awkward moments, stomach churning anxiety (mostly mine) and eventually, feelings of resentment (his? mine?). Fast forward a few years and we're in separate rooms, cataloging assets (mostly mine) for the divorce lawyers. Not to mention bickering over child support and alimony (though perhaps not as acrimonious as that famous couple in NJ).

So should I even bother? Perhaps being single is indeed the more frugal long-term option.

12 Responses to “is being single & staying single less expensive...in the long run?”

  1. disneysteve Says:

    I think getting married is fine. It is having kids that wrecks the finances... just kidding (kind of).

    Putting aside all the warm, fuzzy benefits to marriage, the cold hard facts are that I would likely be far better off financially if I had remained single and childless. Not to say that I would trade the life that I've got, but having a spouse and family is more expensive than living alone.

    Obviously, the decision to get married and have a family involves a whole lot more than a look at the balance sheet. It isn't about money.

  2. Petunia Says:

    It's not that your husband/partner/mate makes significantly less, it's WHY they make significantly less. If the man were a minister, say, and worked hard at it and also was reasonable at managing his resources, it's different than a man who lacked ambition, (dare I say it?) really didn't want to support a family and instead was hoping you'd do the financial "heavy lifting" for him. There are plenty of men who fall into this second category and they can be very charming. You are very wise to be cautious if you are seeing someone who falls into this second category.

    One of the best pieces of advice that I've heard is examine a potential spouse's calendar and checkbook. Where they spend their time and money will tell you way more about them than a few dates. If the calendar/checkbook don't match what the person says about themselves, walk away.

  3. Ima saver Says:

    Interesting, I cannot imagine being single. I was single, but only for 5 weeks in the past 43 years.

  4. monkeymama Says:

    I don't really see any advantage to being single. Well, I mean, I understand you control all the money then. BUT you don't have a second person to help. Say you were laid off, you'd have the second person to fall on financially. Likewise, the tax code is really set against single people - you pay like twice the taxes. I can make the same money and pay half the taxes, simply for being married to someone who doesn't work.

    But my marriage is very much a partnership. My spouse hasn't made an income in about 6 years. So what? HE runs my errands and cooks my meals and shops sales and clips coupons so I Can keep more of my money.

    Likewise, I am with Steve on the kid thing. The reason my spouse has not worked in 6 years is because we had kids. BUT you don't know how excited I am by the prospect of him bringing home $10k/year in the near future (or about 15% of my income). Who cares. Money is money. Who couldn't use an extra $10k/year?

    No ackward moments or resentment here. There's so much more to a person than how much money they make. Likewise, there is no way I Would be where I Was in my career without the support of my husband. (Not as a mother anyway). So there is a lot more to a marriage partnership than money.

    I personally find life far simpler with a spouse. Less work, more money to go around. IT would be really hard to get to where I Was today by my own means. Children or not. Our expenses are not twice as much just because there are 2 of us. But it is rather easy to make twice as much. The unemployment of one doesn't affect the household if the other is working, etc.

  5. monkeymama Says:

    I don't really see any advantage to being single. Well, I mean, I understand you control all the money then. BUT you don't have a second person to help. Say you were laid off, you'd have the second person to fall on financially. Likewise, the tax code is really set against single people - you pay like twice the taxes. I can make the same money and pay half the taxes, simply for being married to someone who doesn't work.

    But my marriage is very much a partnership. My spouse hasn't made an income in about 6 years. So what? HE runs my errands and cooks my meals and shops sales and clips coupons so I Can keep more of my money.

    Likewise, I am with Steve on the kid thing. The reason my spouse has not worked in 6 years is because we had kids. BUT you don't know how excited I am by the prospect of him bringing home $10k/year in the near future (or about 15% of my income). Who cares. Money is money. Who couldn't use an extra $10k/year?

    No ackward moments or resentment here. There's so much more to a person than how much money they make. Likewise, there is no way I Would be where I Was in my career without the support of my husband. (Not as a mother anyway). So there is a lot more to a marriage partnership than money.

    I personally find life far simpler with a spouse. Less work, more money to go around. IT would be really hard to get to where I Was today by my own means. Children or not. Our expenses are not twice as much just because there are 2 of us. But it is rather easy to make twice as much. The unemployment of one doesn't affect the household if the other is working, etc.

  6. monkeymama Says:



    oops

  7. Caoineag Says:

    Depends on who you partner with. Its less expensive for me to be with my husband because he has always had less expensive habits (all his current bad habits were learned from me) but more expensive for him.

    Course, he wouldn't be half as active or eating nearly as healthy on his own so I am not even sure that is true since your health is a very precious resource. Preventive care even is something I have had to encourage him to use.

  8. greengirl Says:

    it could actually be a benefit to you if he earns less, because he'll be used to getting by on his own income. it could teach you to spend less and save more.

  9. ms06880 Says:

    From CT on the Cheap:

    Thank you everyone for your comments. You have given me some food for thought. I do realize that there are many benefits to having a partner and it is not something that could be boiled down to dollars and cents. I was just wondering, theoretically, if it would be less expensive. I read somewhere that about 50% of US households are made up of singles. Curious what impact that would have on personal (spending/saving) habits and on the economy in general.

  10. klbb90 Says:

    It depends on who you marry and whether or not you have children. All of that is up to you. A prenupt would help protect your assets if you marry and make more than your spouse. Just plan ahead and be realistic, while following your heart.

  11. scfr Says:

    This is really one of those "it depends" situations. For most of our marriage, my husband has made more than me, and since he started his own business it has become MUCH more than me. However, at crucial times I have been the primary or sole breadwinner ... when he immigrated to the US, he had to quit his job in his home country. It did not take him long to find a job, but until he did I was the sole breadwinner. When he quit his job and started his business, for a brief period of time I again was the sole breadwinner, and until the business ramped up I was the primary breadwinner. He plans to try out for the senior golf tour when he turns 50, and if he makes the cut I will likely once again be the sole breadwinner for at least awhile. We have taken turns and have supported each other as the circumstances have required. I don't buy the notion that everything has to be 50/50 all of the time.

  12. koppur Says:

    I have to admit, I have recently had this thought as well. My BF and I have been living together for a year and a half, and he hasn't had a job in just as long. Everything relies on me and it makes me anxious and worried about finances all the time. We get by on my salary, but in times like now (I'm not working) it makes it almost unbearably frusterated.

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