The extra costs of being single and how to beat them

By Natasha Culzac
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Being single can lead to all sorts of emotional anxiety, but none of it should be related to your finances.

Whether you’re recently on the market or in the midst of a three-year dry spell, there are a few money saving measures that will ensure your wallet doesn’t pay the price for what you choose to do with your relationship status.

Although they say that charity begins at home, home is exactly where singletons are likely to be hit hardest by the economic powers that be. Single people living alone find themselves on the wrong side of ‘consumption economies of scale’ – the concept that with more flat mates, large costs become spread across more people, allowing each resident to make a saving. In other words, while it is expensive to furnish a one-bedroom apartment alone, in a two-bed the cost of communal areas is halved for the small inconvenience of having to share!

However, if finding a roommate who’ll tolerate your sarcastic humour and passive-aggressive quips is just not feasible, there are still cost-minimising tools at your disposal.

Utility bills

Water: Switching to a water meter from a flat fee will ensure that your bill reflects the low amount of water you use, and small households could save up to £100 according to MoneySuperMarket. However, be sure to check the potential expense using this calculator, as water meter costs will vary significantly with your showering habits. If you are a stickler for hygiene or want to maintain an indoor paddling pool, a flat fee may be more suitable.

Energy: Following the logic above (assuming you have been paying attention!), it might seem reasonable to find a plan that charges for gas and electricity as you use it, instead of a flat bill. Pre-payment meters can handle this, however they usually come with prices that are much higher than standard tariffs, which will push up your overall bill. What’s important when costing up energy-for-one is to survey several options, and remember that switching providers is much easier than you might expect. Gocompare.com offers a handy service that will help calculate your current energy usage, find the cheapest tariffs, and even help you to switch. Suddenly that opera guy’s velvety baritone doesn’t seem so annoying.

Council tax: If you live alone it’s likely that you’ll be entitled to 25% off your council tax bill. It’s called the single person discount and all you need to do is tell your local authority you occupy the property on your own, ask them to give you the reduction and voila, you potentially save hundreds of pounds!

If you’re on a low income, even if you’re a full-time worker, you might separately be entitled to a council tax rebate. Read more info on Which?’s website here, or use the government’s website to apply for a rebate through your local authority.

Food

Not only are ready-meals-for-one a decidedly tragic affair, they are expensive too! Don’t let your single status stop you from cooking in bulk. Dedicate an hour on Saturday or Sunday to laying out recipes for the week and then cook up a storm. Divide into portions and refrigerate or freeze to be enjoyed over the coming days. There’s something satisfying about making a family-sized lasagna knowing that you will devour every last morsel of it. For top tips on how best to freeze food and what you definitely shouldn’t chuck into the freezer, check out BBC Good Food’s guide here.

Travel

Driving: If you make it out of the house, which is a great achievement, you’ll find that getting around is also more expensive for the single person. Car insurance can be particularly expensive for a young single person. However, adding an older relative as a named driver on your policy – preferably one who’s armed with a no claims bonus – can bring the bill down. Just ensure that they are not illegally ‘fronting’ – they cannot take out the policy and add you as a named driver if you are in fact the main user of the car.

For long journeys you can make the most of your car (or someone else’s!) by carpooling with BlaBlaCar. Just make sure that all passengers are okay with your 70s disco playlist before you press play. For more tips on how you can make money from your car, read our article.

 

Holidays: Single hotel rooms are often much worse value for money than doubles, so why not avoid hotels altogether? Services like couchsurfing.com allow you to stay with locals, offering a more authentic, less lonely experience. Note that these have built-in safety and trust features – do not accept any unsolicited offers of accommodation from creepy families lurking at baggage reclaim.

Top Takeaway

Finding a way to share is almost always the best way to live cheaply as a single person. However where this isn’t possible, it’s usually cheapest to make sure that your charge plan for a particular service or good is based on how much you use it – not just a flat fee. But remember to shop around on comparison sites to find the best deal.

 

By Natasha Culzac 

Thanks to a journalistic career history and a childhood at Sylvia Young Theatre School, Natasha has her fingers in a few professional pies, doing her best impression of a model and actor as well as personal finance writer. Outside of work she compulsively watches BBC period dramas and constantly lies to herself that this year will be the year she learns French, once and for all.

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