Singles tend to have more friends than married people, are more likely to volunteer their time and are as healthy or healthier as their married peers, research shows. When it comes to finances, however, singles may have to put in a little extra work since they can’t count on a partnering paycheck.
Flying solo can also have its advantages like putting you in the driver’s seat when it comes to building wealth, while soliciting help in creative ways. And, you’re not alone; 45 percent of U.S. adults are financially responsible for the entire household. So what are some things you can do to spend, save and invest for the future wisely?
It starts with the development of good financial habits, which can have a positive psychological impact. It’s not just about how much is earned or saved, it’s about how those assets are utilized. Creating opportunities to save more, or the simple act of opening an investment account, can be a motivating, empowering step to improve your personal finances.
Here are five simple steps singles can take to try to build wealth and plot their path to their financial future:
1. Enlist a financial accountability partner: In a 2017 TD Ameritrade survey, married Americans said the single biggest financial benefit of being married is the moral support offered by their partner to keep them on track/on budget. Find a friend or family member who can fill this role for you if you are single. If you see someone, a single or married friend or coworker, who seems to be in control of their finances and isn’t living paycheck-to-paycheck, ask them to coffee. Observe and adopt financial habits that are working for them and could work for you. For too long, money has been a taboo topic when really, there’s so much to learn from trusted confidants. Speaking of confidants…
2. Share the expenses: Housing and utilities are often one of the larger expenditures in a budget. Consider finding a roommate who can provide companionship and help reduce household expenses whether you own a home or rent.
3. Establish an emergency fund: Three in ten singles surveyed have wisely established an emergency fund to prevent financial disruption in the case of a health emergency, job loss or natural disaster, for example. The usual rule of thumb is to build up three to six months of living expenses, but it can vary based on individual circumstances.
4. Save early for retirement: The sooner you start, the longer your savings have for potential growth to occur. If your employer provides a 401(k), consider taking advantage of any employer matching program. Then, when your budget allows, consider contributing to an IRA as well. Some will put more of their paycheck in a 401(k) or even max out the 401(k) to the contribution limit.
5. Knowledge is power: An educated investor is a confident investor. Open an investment account and take advantage of free tools and resources to learn investing and saving basics. Just one endeavor in financial literacy can inspire curiosity and continued learning and build confidence.
The important thing is – don’t wait.
Some single people may be waiting for the trigger of marriage to talk with a financial professional, to invest, to buy a home, to do any number of financial things associated with building wealth at various life stages.
Regardless of whether you marry or not, get started by setting personalized financial goals based on a number of factors, including desired retirement age, assets, net worth and how you want to spend your time—and money. Then determine how likely you are to achieve your financial goals based on various factors and your current habits. Assess hypothetical situations that could influence your plan in the future.
Building an action plan that is truly yours will instill the confidence needed to take charge of your financial future.
This article was originally published on The Huffington Post.