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Financial Planning for Singles

In some ways, financial planning is simpler for a single person than a couple. For example, I’ve never had a single client get into a money fight in my office that made me want to hide under my desk.

At the same time, singles have some unique planning needs. If you have never married, are divorced or widowed, or if you are living with a partner but not married, here are some things to consider:

1. Unless you are widowed or divorced and have minor children, or are wealthy and want insurance to cover estate taxes, you probably don’t need life insurance. Put the money you would spend on premiums into your retirement fund instead.
2. Living as a single can be almost as expensive as it would be for a couple. Finding a roommate is one obvious way to cut costs. You might also consider possibilities like sharing a duplex with a family member or owning a house jointly with two or three other people. In any home-sharing situation, have clear agreements in writing, and consult an attorney for any complex arrangements.
3. Long term care and disability insurance are especially important for singles who don’t have partners or children. Put some serious thought—followed by action—into planning for your care in case of serious illness and in old age.
4. Owning a pet can add a great deal of enjoyment to your life.
5. Stay active and involved with a network of friends, and be sure you budget both time and money for activities you enjoy.
6. If you receive payments from an annuity, trust, pension, or insurance settlement that ends if you remarry, consider carefully before you choose to remarry or stay single. Living with a partner is increasingly common and accepted, but it is an individual decision that needs to be made with full awareness of all its financial, emotional, and moral aspects.
7. If you have a partner, it is ESSENTIAL for both of you to execute financial and health powers of attorney if you want the partner to make decisions you are incapable of making for yourself. You may also want to discuss whether you should be authorized to make decisions for one another’s parents or other family members. If you don’t have either a partner or close family members, it’s important to find a friend or advisor you would trust to hold a power of attorney.
8. If you live with a partner in a home owned by the partner, you should have a renter’s insurance policy to cover your own separate personal property and to give you liability protection. You also need to plan for the need to cover living expenses for just yourself at some point in the future.
9. Understand that living as a single person doesn’t mean limiting yourself or putting your life on hold. You don’t need to be in a relationship before you can enjoy yourself. If you want to travel, for instance, go for it. Check into cruises and tours that cater to singles, find a friend to travel with, or head out on your own and be open to making friends along the way. Singles can easily lose sight of the fact that happiness tends to be increased by spending money for experiences rather than things.
10. Finally, educate yourself about the basics of investing, retirement planning, and managing your money rather than blindly turning your finances over to someone else. Don’t hesitate to use the services of fiduciary financial advisors, but remember that the responsibility for your financial health is ultimately up to you.

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