How to save money if you’re single
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it may feel like the topic of love is everywhere.
To make matters worse for singletons, we are constantly reminded that it’s cheaper to be in a relationship. However, there are steps that you can take to keep costs down and enjoy being the master of your own free time.
Research commissioned by First Direct found that cohabiting couples are £102 better off each month than those living on their own, making couples £1,200 better off a year.
Despite this there are things single people and single parents can do to make their budget work.
Seeking advice and knowing what you are entitled to is the first step to ensuring you’re not paying over the odds for something just because you choose to live alone.
Here is a checklist of things where there are savings to be made:
If you are a single parent – There are a number of tax breaks and benefits which are in place to help single parents meet the cost of childcare, from income support, to working tax credits.
Universal credits – Universal Credit is a new one-for-all benefit that will replace income support, working tax credits, chid tax credits, housing benefits, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.
Part of the Government’s major overhaul of the benefits system to try to streamline and simplify claims, it is designed to ensure a system where people are better off working than they are if on benefits.
It will be rolled out from April 2013 in some parts of the country, and countrywide from October 2013. Although it’s expected to take until 2017 for the entire switchover to be completed.
Workplace benefits – Get in touch with your employer’s benefits team to see what they offer. You may be able to get help with childcare costs, savings and pensions.
Save for retirement – Putting money aside for your twilight years is important no matter who you are, but this is especially important if you are a single female. Women tend to far outlive males and generally throughout their lifetimes earn less. With the rising cost of living affecting incomes, saving for retirement should be a priority for everyone.
Always have a savings account – with the recession putting a tremendous strain on our finances, it may seem like a hard job trying to regularly put money aside, but adding up the costs of emergencies will highlight exactly how important ‘rainy day’ money is.
Even if it is as little as £10 a week, it’s better than nothing and can help cover the cost of a breakdown or a repair.
Council tax – There is a 25% council tax reduction for those living on their own as the Council Tax is based on the assumption that a household has two people occupying under the same roof.
Some people are exempt from paying the council tax, like those in full time education of training apprenticeship. Check on the HMRC website to see what you qualify for.
Savings plans – Big purchases are harder to make on a whim if you are a single person household, so savings plans go a long way to give a helping hand. Putting money aside on a weekly basis could help cover the cost of expensive times of the year like Christmas.
Look out for reputable Christmas clubs but make sure they have additional consumer protection so should the company go bust or run into any problems, your money will be safe.
Cook in bulk – Make food for four, bag up the leftovers in single portions and freeze them ready to be defrosted for dinner – not only does it save time and money it also means you don’t resort to a takeaway if it’s been a long day. If you do it with every meal you’ll soon have a tasty range of meals ready to go.
Buy offers – Those offers that get advertised as a meal for two often work out better as a meal and left-over for one. Just freeze whatever you don’t end up polishing off. Buy seasonal vegetables and offers to make the most of your money.
Buying online is also a useful way of only buying what you need as well as being able to compare the same basket and deals from different retailers to see who’s offering the most savings.
Sell off what you no longer need – Generally, a single person has a lifestyle that involves endless rotation of fashion and lifestyle choices. That third pilates mat was what you read you needed to have, but do you really need the first two? There are lots of online sites where you can sell off your unwanted buys, to make extra room and money to spend on new things.
Travel – There’s nothing worse than being penalised for being a lone traveller even though travelling on your own is one of the most liberating experiences a person can have.
Go on holiday with a friend and stay in a twin room to avoid single supplements or use a dedicated singles holiday provider like www.singlesholidays.com.
If you are travelling around a region, remember that you will meet people along the way, who will probably be going a part of your itinerary. Plan to meet up, share taxis, or if you are comfortable, arrange accommodation together.
The last point is easier if you are a male traveller, but always make sure you are safe and don’t put yourself in unsafe situations.
Rent your spare rooms – this is a no brainer. If you have rooms spare and you live alone, it makes sense to have extra income coming in.
This is also a good way to cut down on council tax, food waste and all sorts of financial issues that come up when you live alone. If you find you have spare money left over from the rent, you should aim to put that aside as part of your savings or pension.
Get more info onthe Rent a Room Scheme- https://www.gov.uk/rent-room-in-your-home/the-rent-a-room-scheme
If you have more bedrooms than people living in your house install a water meter to reduce bills.
Get your loft insulated to reduce energy wastage – some councils are even doing this for free.
Switch off your plug sockets when you’re not using them – http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Take-action/Start-saving-money/Changing-your-habits-room-by-room/Energy-saving-tips-for-the-living-room
Also don’t forget to set your heating timer so it’s not on when you’re not in, there’s no need to waste energy and increase your bills if you are not there!