I have received several requests for a post that focuses on the particular issues that face a single person attempting to navigate a satisfying retirement journey. As someone who has been married for almost 37 years I barely remember what it was like to be single so I can only pass along some general thoughts gleaned from Internet research and life experiences. But, I am sure there is helpful insight and feedback from readers who are in this position. So, I will be asking for your participation in the comments section.
For purposes of this post, I am defining a single person as someone who is living alone and has never been married, or if divorced or widowed, did not receive enough financial support to eliminate most worries. That all goes to say the single person is on his or her own to make retirement work.
Single Person DisadvantagesResearch shows that a single retired person tends to save less for retirement than a married couple. That makes common sense. With the majority of married couples today being two income households, a single person is at a disadvantage. With only one income, all expenses and investments must be funded from that one source. Since the amount invested tends to be lower there is less ability for investments to use the power of compounding to grow over time.
If there is a financial setback, either through something like the Great Recession, an investment that goes bad, or an unexpected emergency, there is only one person to cover the costs.
What if a single person becomes seriously ill, disabled, or needs help during the recovery period after an injury or sickness? This could trigger an expensive problem. If family members or friends can't provide the assistance, then in-home nursing care may be required. Even something as simple as transportation to doctor appointments or hospital checkups could mean expensive taxi or medical transport services. To protect from a devastating blow to one's savings, expensive long term care insurance may become necessary.
The tax laws favor married couples. Even if living together two single people will pay substantially more in taxes than two people living together who are married.
Some Positives of SinglenessOn the flip side, a single person can invest, budget, and spend as he or she sees fit. There is no need to compromise or accept another person's approach to money management, an approach with which you may disagree.
As a single retiree, you don't have to worry about a partner who is a spendthrift. and believes money (real or borrowed) is meant to simply enjoy. Retirement planning for that person might mean "it will all work out." You know it won't.
The world is actually becoming much more "single." 96 million Americans are single, and 31 million of them live alone. Recent research indicates that more than half of all young adults (20's and 30's) remain unmarried with many planning on staying that way.
The PBS website, Next Avenue published an excellent overview of the subject of being retired and alone. Click on the link to learn more.
So, now I would like turn this post over to you. If you are single and moving toward retirement, or are already retired, we need you input:
1) What are your biggest worries and concerns ?
2) What do you plan and budget for that your married friends don't?
3) What do you do about housing..own? rent? roommates?
4) How have you planned for major medical problems as you age?
If you are married but have single friends, what fears do they share with you?
This is an important subject that I can only start the ball rolling. I'm looking forward to your thoughts and feedback.