How expensive is your life, really?

Life as a single person is way more expensive than life living with a partner. Here's a ranking of life-cost, by relationship status.


These days I am pretty excited because in less than a month, my boyfriend and I are moving in together! (Cue weird, excited noises.) Of course, I am excited because we are gross and in love and our relationship is deepening and all that wonderful, disgusting relationship stuff, but also because my life is about to get a lot cheaper. Amiright???

Why am I even bringing this up at all? It's not to brag, I swear. About my love, or my upcoming wealth. I am actually trying to make a point.  

As a lady who has spent most of her life as a single person, I cannot count how many times I have heard my friends who are living with their partners (married or not) make comments about how much easier and cheaper my life must be as a single person.

Easier? Sure, if your measure of "ease" in life is whether or not you have to check in with someone else before you make a decision and never need another pair of hands to hold the other end of the shelf you're putting up.

Cheaper? NOPE. As a person living on my own, all my bills belong to me and my little, baby paycheque. Guess how much rent costs when you live by yourself?  Twice what it does when you are sharing an apartment. Guess how much the internet costs?  Again, twice as much as when it's split with someone. Even groceries are cheaper split between two, because you'll have less waste.

I realize that costs creep up on you. When you live with someone you start to think "well, we're splitting the rent, so we can get a bigger place", and then "maybe we should get a car", and then suddenly your budget balloons into something way bigger than you imagined.

There are two things to remember with cost creep, however: one is that it is almost always a choice, not an inevitability, and the other is that it happens to everyone as we get older, not just couples. (Note: I say almost always a choice, because when you are working poor, cost creeps aren't so much choices as paying for necessities like the dentist, bus passes, or decent groceries.)

Of course, it's not so simple as single life = expensive life. And so, on the cusp of my glorious expense-splitting cohabitation, I offer my ranking the most, and least, expensive phases of life, according to relationship statuses.

MOST EXPENSIVE: Single and Dating

When you are single, you are, of course, the sole paycheque. You have to foot all your bills and that's costly. When you are single and going on dates, well then that's even more expensive. Why? Because unless all your dates are coffee-and-a-walk dates, they tend to add up.  

When I was dating it was all feast or famine, and while the famines were long, during the feast I sometimes went on 3 or 4 dates a week. That's 3 or 4 coffees, drinks, lunches, or dinners that I otherwise probably wouldn't have done.

Some of you may be confused: "but you've got lady parts! Aren't those a free meal ticket?" The answer is no, and that's how it should be.  

Don't get me wrong, I think it's a lovely gesture for the fellah to pay for a meal, and I always appreciate it. It's also a lovely gesture for the lady to pay. It's just nice to treat and be treated. Early on, I try really hard to make sure it's as equal as possible. (Except when I went on dates with super rich lawyers who made four times my salary - I didn't argue too hard with them on the bill.)

NEXT MOST EXPENSIVE: Single and Not Dating

This actually can easily jump to the top spot, depending on what your social life is like, but generally I would argue that being single and not dating is moderately less expensive than dating. I still go out most nights of the week when I'm straight-up single, but just as often as I go out for drinks or dinner with friends, we go to each others' houses and relax.

Plus, ask a random date-guy if you can do something a little cheaper, and he'll probably think you're fishing for him to grab the bill. Ask your friends if you can hang on the cheap, and they'll probably say something like, "Yes, PLEASE! I am so poor right now!", and then everyone is relieved that someone finally said it.

Still, it ain't cheap. Everything I do when I am single is on me: grabbing a tea on the way to work, groceries, renting a car to go visit family, buying gifts, whatever.  

On the topic of gifts, has anyone else ever noticed how no one expects couples to give gifts that are double in value, even though two of them are paying into it? And I've never felt clear on whether I had to give couples individual gifts, or if I could give them one to share.

STILL EXPENSIVE: In a Relationship, Living Separately

Sometimes you meet someone and realize that both of you would like to trap the other person in your pockets. That's when you know you can start a relationship.

There is obvious variation relationship to relationship, but now you can do the whole "can we have a cheap date" thing and it's much lower stakes. People have this weird idea that when you first start dating you have to pretend you're rich, and then once you get your claws in each other you can start to be honest about life, which is silly but is also reality.

While you will probably go out for dinner and do other costly activities, you can also stay in, eat popcorn, and watch the X Files more often than if you were just dating.

Still, you both are paying your own separate rent, your own groceries, your own internet, your own hydro, and everything else. You might be able to start to capitalize on the "couple gift" scam, but it's a risky game to play when you aren't shacking up.

THE CHEAPEST: Co-Habitating

This is the golden ticket! Whether you are married or living together, once you shove all your belongings between the same four walls, your fixed expenses shall drop like it's Walmart in the 90s.

Then there's the fact that you'll feel less pressure to go "do something" so often, which is good because "doing something" usually means "spending money." I mean, you don't want to become couch slugs, building a nest out of your own accumulated slime, but now things can roll from "going on dates" to "let's have a date night so we can peel ourselves off the couch and re-ignite our romance."

That is what I have to look forward to, right? A half-hearted fight against totally giving up on ourselves as we grow more and more comfortable with each other?  

Ah, bliss.

Of course, this is all moot if you throw kids into the mix. Kids are like a giant falcon that flies through all your neatly-organized piles of money (and life plans) and scatters them everywhere, over and over again.  

Comments

Sharron Torres said…
Oh dear.....children do change the relationship like nothing else. Be fair to the kids please and love and parent them like they are your own or move on....