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Being a single person is more expensive than being married

About 50% of people are single, and they sure can’t gain any tax advantages being single (even if they’re common-law partners), than if they were to legally get married.

To see exactly how much they were losing out on, this study: The High Price of Being Single in America, tracked the following situation:

Two single women and two married women of equivalent means. The single women made $40,000 and $80,000, as did their married counterparts.

The two salaries represent relatively middle and high-income levels in Virginia, where 2011 per capita income was $44,700 statewide.

The study also accounted for the fact that women make about $0.78 to every man’s dollar, and that the married women had husbands who earned an income as well.

Lastly, the study only talked about women being single, but I wish they had some numbers on single men as well for comparisons sake.


For taxes:

Our single woman earning $40,000 per year paid $245,000 in income taxes.

Our married woman earning $40,000 paid $206,000 in income taxes—a difference of $39,000.

Our single woman earning $80,000 per year paid $645,000 in income taxes. Our married woman earning $80,000 paid $490,000 in income taxes—a difference of $155,000.

For social security, the benefits became even greater as the married wife would get about $55,896 more just living off her husband’s Social Security.

For health care it would be $24,000 – $48,000 more for a single woman, and for housing, the difference is $763,200.


Elizabeth Taylor, flashing her famous ring given to her by Richard Burton. Via


Their final conclusion for people who stay single in America:

Our lower-earning woman paid $484,368 for being single.

Our higher-earning woman paid $1,022,096: more than a million dollars just for being single.

You can read all the details for their findings here: The High Price of Being Single in America


If you travel alone, you have to pay for the hotel room all by yourself. As a couple, you split the costs!

If you live alone, you pay for the rent/mortgage, utilities and anything that could be shared, all alone. A couple, gets to split the costs.

Of course, as a couple who is not married, taxes are where we would get hit the most in Canada, but it still isn’t nearly as bad as being single and having to foot for all the costs all alone.

Updated Note: Anne made a good point in the comments that common-law and married are treated one and the same in Canada. I had no idea! I’ll have to look into that.

Depressing huh?

As if it already wasn’t bad enough with the stigma surrounding single folks, especially single women, such as the ones who might be single because they’re too successful.

The only thing that could possibly shine a little cheer on single folks is that they don’t have to worry about dealing with a messy and possibly expensive divorce in case things go sour… which unfortunately does happen about 50% of the time.



  • SarahN

    Interestingly, this past weekend I went away (as a couple), but we didn’t split costs. My philosophy was that I was ‘making’ the BF go to the wedding, which would otherwise not be his expense. And regardless, I would have paid the same if I went alone. And he drove and paid for the petrol. He also doesn’t pay any of my mortgage. Sigh… should get me a common law husband (same laws in Australia)… could save me tax!

  • Deena Dollars

    Another thing I think the article left out is that a married couple, if there are two earners, will be in a higher tax bracket and (assuming they live in a country that has a progressive tax system) they will pay more in taxes. There is some benefit to being married written into the tax code, but that is supposed to be a rough offset for the fact that the couple is subject to a higher tax rate.

  • Janine

    single people also have a much harder time qualifying for mortgages because they just don’t have the income level!

  • Deena Dollars

    Ack, I can’t read this study too carefully because it’s too close to the area for which I went to grad school – so I was nit-picking every little part of it. The main thing I want to point out is that there has been a lot of research done that mothers suffer a wage penalty above and beyond just being women — so, if we go with the loose assumption that a higher percentage of married women will have children than single women, the single women will earn more over time than their married counterparts with kids. Not saying that’s the way it should be, but them’s the facts.

  • Heather Buen

    I really loved this post and the accompanying article. As a single mom, I get an advantage because I claim three dependents. However once they are out of the house I will be at the mercy of the system.

  • Anne @ Unique Gifter

    My understanding is that there are practically zero changes to taxation in Canada between common-law and married. Most of the legal differences arise around children if you part ways and in some provinces the splitting of assets on dissolution of the relationship. Spousal RRSPs, joint filing, etc is all applied to common law.
    The difference between being completely single and married, however, is pretty big!

    • Mochi & Macarons

      Really? I had no idea. I’ll have to look into that. I am wondering if it would make any difference if we joint-filed or just filed separately.

      As for single versus married — it’s staggering, especially since these are numbers for the U.S.

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