The majority of Canadians are like me – single.

First, thanks to Jolie and Makky’s Mom for their condolences yesterday. I really appreciate it.

Yesterday when the latest issue of MoneySense magazine came in the mail, I learned that the majority of Canadians are like me – single. Statistics Canada is reporting that 52% of Canadian households have just one person steering the ship. They don’t mean only one person who’s working, they mean just one person heading up a household. Period. According to the latest issue of MoneySense magazine, this number is actually on the rise.

Until I read the article, it didn’t occur to me that I was “discriminated against” as a solo adult, paying more per capita for stuff than couples. As I sit with this information, I’m feeling a little bit better about the percentages of my expense categories, and how they don’t neatly align with the optimal “life pie”, as Gail Vaz-Oxlade calls it. According to the article, singles pay almost twice as much for utilities and cable, and about 50% more for food. I can’t consider myself single in the food department, I do feed more mouths than just my own.

While I was already convinced about the necessity of savings, including retirement and emergency savings, this article caused me to think about it from another point of view. If I get sick and can’t work, I have no other breadwinner to cover my shortfall. Yes, I have disability insurance, but that kicks in after a three month waiting period. Still, it’d be less than I earn now and would still mean a dramatic lifestyle shift. Emergency savings isn’t a nice to have, it’s mission critical.  Same goes for retirement savings. If I am paying proportionally more for my housing and utilities now, that won’t change if I’m still single in my retirement years. The result is I’ll need more put aside in order to pay more for things than my retired friends who are living with someone.

The article also pointed out that couples have a better tax advantage, both at tax time, and for income splitting/retirement purposes. I’m on my own.

There are times that I think I spend too much time on the look-out for ways to boost my earnings. I try and think of things I can do that won’t compromise my sanity, leisure down time, or most importantly, my primary career/full-time gig. I realize now that my pre-occupation with this is likely the result of two things:

a) My mother was a single mom for my formative years, she worked three-part time jobs. It’s what I learned from watching her.

b) I would be loathe to ask for help from anybody until I was absolutely in dire need, so I work hard to try and make certain I won’t ever have to be in that position.

I recognize there are likely many couples who’s combined salary is less than mine alone. Still, I pay 100% of the mortgage, 100% of the municipal taxes, 100% of the utilities, etc. This isn’t a complaint – just an observation. When my relationship with my ex-boyfriend went south, all my utility costs suddenly doubled, and my mortgage payments did more than double. Strangely, I feel more confident about my fiscal position now than I did then. (And no, I wouldn’t stay in a relationship that wasn’t working because there were savings on my cable bill).

Why? Probably because I have one of the huge benefits of being single – flexibility. I make my own decisions and I don’t have to check in with anybody (except the girls) if I want to work an extra shift here or there with the part-time gig. The article further suggests that most singles won’t own their own home.  I own two.

Sounds like I’m doing a lot of things right, but I still have lots of room to improve.  Namely, eliminate the consumer debt; save aggressively for retirement and emergencies; stay the course. The article has caused me to believe I’m not saving aggressively enough, but at least I’m saving something while still paying down debt. That’s a far cry from where my head space was at the beginning of the year.

If you’re single now, or were in the past, did you feel discriminated against?

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One response to this post.

  1. I’ve always been single (and seems like I’ve always been a parent – lol) so I don’t know that I’ve ever thought that there was anything abnormal. I have felt the discrimination of TIME more than anything I think. Not having someone help with the home maintenance, cleaning, picking kids up and carting them around to activities… It’s just meant the standards are lower I suppose – which is no different from the financial aspect, the expectations have to change – and lower. Sometimes when my sister (a SAHM) would say she just didn’t have the time to call me back or do other things, I’d just mentally roll my eyes and think – yeah, I’m putting in 60-70 hours a week working with 2 kids and just have LOADS of free time…

    But like you, I love the flexibility and control over things. 🙂

    Reply

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