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Ask Chuck: Financial advice for lifelong singles

Ask Chuck your money question

Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez
Unsplash/Priscilla Du Preez

Dear Chuck,

Many of my single friends (divorced, widowed, and lifelong singles) are struggling to make ends meet. Is there an approach to managing money for those who are single and may never marry?

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Advice for Lifelong Singles

Dear Advice for Lifelong Singles,

Thank you for the question. This is a very important trend that needs our attention. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 28% of our population consists of one-person households. In 1960, that number was 13%. Today, half of American adults live with a spouse, down from 52% a decade ago. The number of those over 18 living with a partner but not married is up to 8%, double the number twenty years ago. People are delaying marriage and making critical life decisions later than previous generations. Birth rates have been dropping for decades, referred to as the “baby bust.” The number of younger people living with parents is also up. (Stats are from this article.)

Some singles delay marriage in hopes of getting their finances in order. Others have financial challenges as a result of divorce, death, pregnancy outside of marriage, or frivolous lifestyles.

Singles often miss the traditional milestones of buying a home, having children, and long-term financial planning. They must be extra cautious with their income and expenses while fully trusting God.

Financial considerations for singles

Living on one income today in preparation for tomorrow requires wisdom. My advice to singles, young and old, is to learn how to steward money. Handling money from a Biblical point of view will enable one to face the future without fear. Here is an approach that will help:

 “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”  (Proverbs 19:20 ESV)

Find trusted advisors who can direct one to take a short- and long-term view of finances. Goals must be set, and the same principles I give to others apply to singles:

  • Work with joy
  • Give first
  • Save second
  • Spend wisely
  • Diversify investments

Good housing decisions are key

Many singles cannot afford to buy a home nor have the resources to maintain one. Housing tends to be the largest fixed expense. Downsizing or relocating can eliminate some of the financial stress. Rising rents are now a problem; consider alternative housing options. If in a large home, it may be necessary to sell or rent out a portion. Temporary measures can be taken. Here are a few other options. Find a roommate, or move in with family members. If it’s an amicable relationship, one might be able to build and occupy a guest house on their property which will bless children and grandchildren for decades. Form a pod. It can serve to help everyone who lives together.

At one point, one of our sons and his wife lived in a big home with two other couples from their church. Each had their own wing, and it worked fine—until they started having babies. Living with others can solve loneliness and provide a measure of accountability. Housing prices and property taxes vary greatly across our country, so relocating can help if one can work remotely.

Living near family is important, but one must seriously consider the cost of living. Here are a few links to help make better decisions about where to live:

Prepare for economic turbulence

Inflation and recession are concerns for all of us, single or married. We do not know what the future holds, but we know that economic conditions are always fluctuating. Abiding by Biblical financial principles and making wise choices can cushion the fallout we may experience in the coming months.

In addition, variable expenses should always be closely analyzed. Look back over credit card and bank receipts to see how much is being spent on food, prescriptions, utilities, and entertainment. Seek discounts, eliminate waste, and make some cost-saving sacrifices. I am not a kill-joy; I just know that many people need to find creative ways to reduce their spending. Record all spending for 30 days to see where dollars go. We are facing uncertain economic times, so we need to be extra savvy. Frugality does not mean misery. It can provide freedom!

More resources

Here is additional information for older adults:

I know an older woman who rotates time living with her adult children and their families. She does not have a permanent residence. It is a mutual blessing for her, the children, and grandchildren. Others are lovingly cared for by nieces or nephews. Sometimes siblings or close friends choose to live together and split bills.

New widows and widowers have to manage money while dealing with grief. It is a difficult time. Here are some tips for survivors. Organized files and records are a gift for those left behind at death.

Thank you for a great question! My hope is you can share this article with those you are trying to help. 

A trusted source of guidance for those dealing with credit card debt is Christian Credit Counselors. They can help get anyone on the road toward financial freedom.  

Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Economic Evidence for God?. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.

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