Staring down the singles’ penalty

As a percentage of their income, “single people pay much more for their basic living expenses than couples,” says Matt Kelly, owner of Momentum Personal Finance Coaching in Durango, Colo. “The biggest difference, by far, is housing.”

Weiss recommends spending no more than 25 percent of your annual pretax income on housing costs, which may require some planning. Getting a roommate or housemate is “a classic way to reduce living expenses by simulating a two-income household,” Kelly says. A two-bedroom apartment may cost more than a one-bedroom, but it won’t cost twice as much, and the utilities won’t be doubled.

Kelly also recommends the following ideas to cut housing costs.

  • Find a unique efficiency apartment or guest house that is part of someone else’s home.
  • Buy a yurt, recreational vehicle or camper, and rent space on someone else’s land.
  • Become a caretaker of a property or house sitter.
  • Combine your work and living space, particularly if you are self-employed.

Consider experimenting with small or unique living situations to save money. “Start with a budget, and be realistic about what you can afford,” says Deana Arnett, senior planning consultant at Financial Planning Services in northern Virginia. “If what you can afford is less than you want, relax. It doesn’t have to be this way forever.”