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Why the single life doesn't need to be the expensive life
4 ways singles save
Live. It. Up.
Live. It. Up. Simon Marcus/Corbis
T

he high cost of being single is well-documented:

Singles miss out on hundreds of federal benefits afforded to married couples, they spend more on healthcare, collect less social security, and pay higher monthly expenses associated with housing, utilities, cable, and even food.

Earlier this year, two writers at The Atlantic tallied it up, and found that thanks to a wide range of factors, a single woman making $40,000 a year will, over the course of her lifetime, spend $1,022,096 on simply being single.

That's a high price tag for not settling down. But don't dismay just yet, singles. Married people have their own set of costs to worry about — and there are ways to mitigate some of the gaps. Here, four ways the single life can help you save:

1. You don't have to pay for a wedding
In 2012, the average American wedding, from the ring to the honeymoon, cost $28,427, according to the website TheKnot.com. The median wedding costs a bit less — $18,086 — but still almost half the yearly take-home amount of the average American salary.

So those who stay single may miss out on nice new cookware, and the fun of the Hora, but they also don't end up blowing their life-savings on a single event.

2. A roommate takes care of a lot of the financial difference
In The Atlantic story, the married woman making $40,000 annually saved $381,600 over the course of 60 years on her housing arrangement.

One relevant fact: Singles spend a larger portion of their income on housing than their married counterparts, says the article. Single women on average spend 39.8 percent, while couples spends only 23.9 percent (and in an annoying twist of fate, single men spend less than single women: just 30.3 percent — possibly because of wage disparity).

The main cause of the single-couple gap, is that when a couple lives together two incomes go toward rent or mortgage, utilities, and cable.

One way to mitigate this, clearly, is to get a roomie. Finding and living with a roommate has its challenges, yes, but the personal finance site WiseBread.com says the financial benefits reach far beyond splitting rent and utilities. Roommates can alleviate some of the costs of household items like paper towels, pet-sitting, and transportation if you can carpool. They can even become your "order-in buddy," unless you like to eat whole pizzas alone (no judgment if you do).

3. You avoid the so-called "marriage penalty"
When a newly married couple's combined income pushes them into a higher tax bracket, they pay what is called the "marriage penalty," which can be quite pricey.

It doesn't apply to everyone. If one half of a couple has no income, for example, the working-half's salary is effectively halved for tax purposes. But when couples have similar salaries, both parties incomes effectively double for tax purposes.

Single people don't have to worry about that.

4. There's a zero percent chance you'll get divorced
The numbers are not in on exactly how many marriages end in divorce. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's figures land it around 50 percent, but other statistics say the divorce rate is subject to a wide range of factors from the age a couple is when they marry to what state they live in.

The numbers are also out on the cost of a divorce. If you add up attorney fees, court costs, and costs for things like parent education classes, some experts say the average cost is about $15,000. The divorce-site Divorce360, on the other hand, pegs the number closer to $100,000.

Whatever the case, neither set of statistics apply to singles.

Carmel Lobello is the business editor at TheWeek.com. Previously, she was an editor at DeathandTaxesMag.com.

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