When you’re single, it’s easy to lose control of your budget, or even feel like you don’t need one in the first place. Date nights, takeout for one, no one to split streaming subscriptions with…the costs of being single add up quick. Without a second income, you have to get a little creative with how you save. At the same time, you have the freedom to get to be creative, since you can make your financial decisions independently.
I spoke with personal finance expert Jen Smith, co-host of @frugalfriendspodcast and modernfrugality on Instagram, who shared her top tips for handling your finances as a single person.
Balance your social life with affordable options
It makes sense to take advantage of your singledom with a thriving social life. At the same time, it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of expensive dinners and drinks—especially if that’s all your group of friends seems to want to do.
Smith shares how the relationships she built with people who were willing to hang out for free ended up being much deeper friendships in the long run. Learn how to say no to unnecessarily expensive plans (rooftop bars get real old real quick), and come to the table with affordable alternatives. Here’s a list of ideas for social plans that won’t break the bank. If someone doesn’t want to spend time together without all the spending, that might be a friendship you’re outgrowing.
Analyze where you can cut back
Smith says to examine at least the last 90 days of your spending to see where exactly your money is going. When it comes to the idea of “cutting back,” many people panic and assume their way of life will have to radically change. Smith says this is a fear response and often isn’t the case. “The first thing you think you need to cut,” like your daily coffee or your weekly happy hour, “can usually be the last thing to go.” Smith shares that after looking over their spending habits, most people discover they can first cut back on areas they don’t even realize they’re wasting their money (overlooked subscriptions come to mind).
A unique advantage here is the fact that choosing how and where to cut back is a whole lot easier when you don’t have to factor in other people or make it a drawn-out discussion.
Learn how to cook for one
After examining your spending habits, you might grimace at how much money goes toward ordering takeout. I get it: Portion control is hard, and takeout is easy. Smith says that learning how to cook for one person (without dooming yourself to the same leftovers all week) is a crucial money-saving hack. Here are some more tips for saving money at the grocery store.
Build a rainy day fund
It’s never too early to start contributing to a “rainy day” fund, which is savings you set aside for unexpected expenses down the line. Smith recommends a “starter” rainy day fund of around one month of rent plus your insurance deductible.
Smith advises that it’s important to build this sort of security for yourself. Even if you do have a partner, you don’t want to have depend them in times of financial emergencies. For more details about building your emergency fund, here are more of Smith’s tips for what you should do now to prepare for a looming recession.