I’ve been musing about my medium term financial goals a lot lately – buying a house, having children, maybe even getting married.
With major life milestones starting to appear on my 5-10 year horizon, I’m beginning to internalize the financial implications of my possible futures and what I need to do in the present to prepare.
While sitting down to calculate the projected costs of my dream life, I realized I’d been planning my financial future as a solitary endeavor.
In other words, I’ve been operating under the assumption of staying single.
Whether or not I ultimately decide to take the plunge into legal coupledom there is an enormous benefit to planning my financial future as a solitary endeavor – fiscal security and flexibility, regardless of relationship status.
I don’t consider marriage a necessary precursor to my other milestone goals, and I’m certainly not going to plan my life banking on a dual income future.
Whether you agree or not, I think we can all stand to benefit from the assumption of staying single when approaching our financial futures. After all…
[clickToTweet tweet=”A man is NOT a money plan!” quote=”A man is NOT a money plan!”]
The number of single women in the U.S. is now greater than the number of married women, and according to data from the National Center for Women and Retirement Research…
9 out of 10 women will be solely responsible for their own finances at some point in their lives.
So while today my ideal life plan may still include a spouse with whom to share the white picket fence and 2.6 children (ish), I’m preparing for the very real likelihood of continued self-reliance in my future, making the potential shift from “the plan” to “plan B (or C or D)” exponentially easier should that time come.
In projecting the savings needed to prepare for financial milestones like buying a home or having children on my own, I turned to my trusted friend Google.
Despite Google’s uncanny ability to teach me everything I’ve ever needed to know from how to fold a fitted sheet to how to properly spell entrepreneur, it is seriously lacking in this regard.
In my search, I encounter thousands of results addressing unanticipated single motherhood and financial independence after divorce, but the information and resources for young, single women planning a financial future on their own are next to nil.
What I do find however, are some interesting stats (Oh, how I love stats)…
According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, women place a higher priority than men on having a place to call their own and will do more to make it happen.
The survey goes on to reveal that two-thirds of female buyers purchase single-family homes – three-bed, two-bath.
It looks like I’m not the only one prepared to take on the future solo.
Despite the growing independence of women in the real estate market, the stats around independent motherhood are not quite so favorable. According to 2013 census data, poverty is on the rise for single mother families.
But could that grim reality be avoided with proper financial planning?
According to The Pew Center, single parent households typically exist in a different socioeconomic pool than married households. Married mothers benefit from a median household income of $80,000, almost four times that of than families led by a single mom.
If I can secure my position in that higher income bracket on my income alone, perhaps I can avoid becoming part of the “at risk” statistics.
Waiting until I’m well into my thirties to have children (either solo or with a partner) means I’ve given myself plenty of time to grow my earnings to a more than sufficient level, build career capital and save a substantial sum before I start having babies.
When you use your own income as the sole parameter for funding your life, additional income streams, (like that of a spouse), become a tool for the extras – increased retirement savings, emergency funding, back up in case of job loss, etc.
So while marriage may someday be part of my future, I refuse to plan on it as a contingency or solution for insufficient income.
[clickToTweet tweet=” While marriage may be a part of my future, I refuse to plan on it as a contingency for insufficient income. ” quote=” While marriage may be a part of my future, I refuse to plan on it as a contingency for insufficient income. “]
Financial planning under the assumption of staying single isn’t all too different from maintaining financial independence – live within your means, ditch debt, build emergency savings and save for the future.
The key is to remove any financially dependent contingencies you may be putting on your future ideal.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Remove any financially dependent contingencies you may be putting on your future ideal.” quote=”Remove any financially dependent contingencies you may be putting on your future ideal.”]
For example, if one of my goals is to have children, I would have to consider and plan for how to manage the cost of having and raising them without any additional income support from a spouse.
I would also have to consider the implications of not having a partner with whom to share caregiving responsibilities and the associated costs of hiring out those support tasks.
Sure, in my ideal world, I do have a partner with whom to share the time and monetary costs of childcare, but assuming I won’t as I plan my financial future sets me up for success either way.
This kind of logic can be applied to any big picture goal, so start by identifying what the big picture goals are for you….
What does the life you want look and feel like? Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with?
Be as specific as you can and give yourself permission to be outrageous in your ambition.
What is the price tag on your dream life?
Identify the financial support system you need to have in place for every aspect of the ideal lifestyle you’ve dreamed up – whether it’s a owning a home on the beach, spending three years traveling the world or both.
Then get grounded in the reality of the numbers, researching costs and projecting price tags so that you can begin breaking the numbers down into tangible next steps that you can start incorporating into your financial plan.
Remove “I’ll plan for it when…” from your vocabulary.
If you’re serious about your dream life, commit to doing what it takes to bring yourself closer to achieving it today. Don’t wait around for the perfect partner to figure out how and when you’ll be able to afford it.
[clickToTweet tweet=”If you’re serious about your dream life, commit to doing what it takes to achieve it.” quote=”If you’re serious about your dream life, commit to doing what it takes to achieve it.”]
If we all planned our financial lives under the assumption of staying single, I wonder if we might be better off… regardless of how our respective love lives unfold.
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