Money and Singleness

One of the lies out there about singleness  is the idea that singles are better off financially than marrieds.  Being in full time ministry over the last 20 years and surrounded by married people (about 90% of the people in my position are married) I’ve often been told to enjoy the freedom I have and how it is tougher with a family etc.  And I bought that.

But here’s the problem.  In general it’s not true.  Single people are not better off financially. Not even close.

Here are some numbers.  The median income for a married man is 109% greater than that of a single man.  Before you go and say that is just an age thing (for sure a factor) the median income for a married man is 33% greater than that of a divorced man.  The median family income even with only one person working outside the home is still higher than that of the single man.

We’re not done.  Married men get promoted more, receive better appraisals and oddly enough miss work less.  But it’s not just jobs and income.  It’s also taxes, laws and health benefits at companies.  A recent study  found that a single woman making $40,000 a year until she is 60 years old ends up missing out on over $484,000 over that period compared to a married woman.  That’s crazy.  Even if their estimates are off, it’s still crazy.

Now statistics are just that and for sure you can manipulate them in different ways.  But make no mistake, no matter how you do the numbers, married people end up with more than singles.

Now there’s all sorts of practical reasons that marrieds do better.  For one you share expenses.  You have one mortgage, get group insurance rates, have one electric, water, and sewer bill etc.  When something goes wrong in a job, sometimes the other person can keep you afloat for a while. You get a more tax help for being married.  The list goes on.

I’m not sharing this today to complain.  I’m not looking to start an equality in single pay movement.  I share it mainly for two reasons.  First to bust the myth that if you are single you have it easier financially.  That is completely false – especially over the long haul.  The second is because there are some things singles need to think about that can help them navigate finances in light of the this truth.

First off it is important to not fall into the trap of believing that because you are single, you should be “freer” with you money.  Here’s what I mean.  There were a lot of times over the last 20 years of singleness that I kind of had the attitude of “why not” because no one else was really counting on it.  Why not go ahead and take out the car loan. Why not go ahead and go on the trip I can’t really afford – I’ll pay it back.  Why not buy dinner for everyone, no one else will need my money right now.  The list goes on.

Why have a good health plan?  Why have good insurance?  No one but me is counting on it.  Here’s the truth – we tend to make different decisions when others are counting on us than when we are just dealing with ourselves.

Now to some extent that is reality.  But we have to be really, really careful.  What if something goes wrong?  What if I can’t pay it back?  What if I get hurt?  If you are disabled tomorrow – who pays for that?  Know what I’m saying?

Adding to the complexity is that others around us (especially married friends) have also bought this lie.  So they think you’re fine.  If a married friend of mine blew a few thousands bucks they’d probably get called out. “What are you doing?  You have a family.”  A single friend blows it – not so much.

Which leads to what I believe is the biggest trap for singles when it comes to finances.  No one knows what you are doing with your money.

Ask yourself right now – who knows how much you make, what you spend, what your expenses are, how in debt you are.  Is there any person in your life who knows any of it, let alone actually holds you accountable in any way in this area of your life?  My guess is no.  Do you even have financial goals?  Does anyone know what they are?  Are any of them more than 5 years long?  If you spent a few thousand dollars tomorrow who would know?

Everyone wants singles held accountable in dating, sex, porn etc. but we almost never talk about this.  And it is costing us.  Literally!  The funny thing is that scripture talks more about this than any of the stuff we are worried about.  If there is one thing I’d do different in my 20 years of singleness this might be it.  I’d try to be able to answer all the above questions with a yes.  I’d have some people who knew all the above and held me to it.

The biblical principles for money are the same for married and single people. But the context is different and we are foolish not to recognize that.  We can’t control tax codes and company benefits.  But we can control what we do with what we have.

What are you doing with what you have?  It’s a huge question.  Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Where’s your treasure?

3 thoughts on “Money and Singleness

  1. Funny you bring this up. About a month ago, on the local talk-radio show there was a doctor from UC Davis on specializing in “men’s health” on during the afternoon. And it wasn’t geared to “married guys” or “fathers”

    He was almost begging the host: Tell your single, never married guy friends. Your son who is now in his forties and is still single, your single grandson who is now 35 to start planning for the future; yesterday!

    -Single, never married men live seven to ten years less than their married counterparts on average.
    -Single never married men do not save enough money
    -They drink more. They smoke more on average.
    -Suicide rates skyrocket with single never married men as they age
    -Single, never married men don’t see the doctor, even one’s WITH health coverage
    -They tend to suffer from DEPRESSION that usually goes UNDIAGNOSED and can have costly and detrimental consequences on their social, mental and physical health.
    -They do not network as well as their single female counterparts.
    -They will need LONG term care insurance 8:1 over a married man and 15:1 over a single, never married woman

    The host of the show *tried* to make it at first into some *funny* assumptions about single-men (they must have issues / could never get a woman / geeks / nerds), but he got serious when this doctor wasn’t playing into it.

    This doctor really did seem to care about his subject:

    -Single men MUST quit smoking.
    -Single men MUST invest and setup LONG TERM CARE insurance. NOW!
    -Single men NEED to find a CHURCH, or templ, or other place of fellowship and worship. A place where they can fellowship, and network in PROACTIVE environments.
    -Single men have to learn to not be afraid of the doctor’s office.
    -Single men should carry zero debt
    -Single men need to have PURPOSE in their lives
    -Single men need to develop hobbies, skills and activities

    Really informative, and something that I was glad I heard on the radio

  2. Pingback: Is Your Singleness Selfish? | More Than Don't Have Sex

  3. Pingback: Top Reasons “While You’re Single” Lists Are Bad | More Than Don't Have Sex

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s