12 Tips For Avoiding 'Single Tax' When You Don't Have A Partner

Illustration by Richard Chance
Let's be fair; money worries are real, no matter your marital status.
For couples, these worries might stem from any number of things – one person supporting the other through a tough patch financially, for instance. Hell, some things might be more expensive for couples; splitting finances is a tricky business and if you choose to do it equally, you might find yourself out of pocket when it comes to maintaining the other person's rubbish car.
But let's also admit something else – there are absolutely some situations where single people find themselves at a disadvantage economically. Paying rent, for instance. Coughing up £800 a month for a one-bedroom flat would be a lot more palatable if there were two people to shoulder the burden.
Advertisement
This so-called "single tax" also exists when it comes to holidays (single rooms in hotels are few and far between), travel (no Two Together railcard discount here), bills, subscriptions, 2-for-1 deals on food, dating (lord knows the pursuit of romance can be seriously pricey).
So, after speaking to couples about how they manage their money, this week we reached out to the single ladies of the Money Diaries Facebook Group to get a few tips from them on how to avoid spending more.
1 of 13

Look out for number one

1. If you’re living alone, make sure you have single person council tax discount (25% off).

2. For Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime, etc – can you share accounts with family to split the cost?

3. Holidays – if you can go with friends you can share the hotel costs, if not then shop around for good deals and if you don’t mind slumming it a bit, stretch your budget that way.

4. Food shopping – plan your meals and batch cook/freeze so you waste less and are more economical with time and money.

5. Don’t say yes to plans if you don’t want to – it’ll cost you and you won’t enjoy it. Do what makes you happy.

6. Look for fun and free events to attend if you’re feeling stagnant with your own company.

7. Don’t compare yourself to couples and what they have or are doing – it’s not healthy for your mind or self-worth.

8. Never undersell yourself. Know your worth if you’re job-hunting or seeking promotion or a raise; men aren’t afraid to ask for what they want.

9. Enjoy being single and spending time with others who make you feel good. A night in with a home-cooked meal and movie with the girls can cost you less than a tenner!

–Kiri
2 of 13

Buddy up

If I want a takeaway and have no one to share with, I try and get something I can have for lunch the next day too.

I share with friends if I'm going to weddings or events and need to book a hotel. And my newest financial hack: if I'm going on a date, I set a budget and let the guy know beforehand. Dating is expensive, especially the first few dates. I'd much rather be upfront with someone new and say I'm on a budget.

I also have a group Spotify account with friends and the same for Netflix. We're also considering a group Deliveroo Prime account for our flat. It would cost us £3 or so a month each but unlimited deliveries with no extra fees – so useful when you want a solo takeaway.

–Lizzie
Advertisement
3 of 13

Call in the discounts

Single discount on council tax!

Meal plan and be creative – can that one thing go into three different dishes? Freeze, freeze, freeze – including takeaway!

For online orders, [only] do them every so often to hit the minimum spend and get all your heavy buys.

For hotels, do consider the single bedrooms (and shared bathrooms if you can take it); I'm too old now for hostels but they are great for travelling alone. And cheap!

Shop around for your energy bills, you will use less so make sure you're paying it. I have a limitless cinema card – obviously spending money, but it's a great way to get out of the house.

–Rachael
4 of 13

Shop around

When I was single I always shared my Netflix and Now TV and other subscriptions with friends; could you ask people you’re close to for a swap? One person pays for one account, another pays for something else. There are loads of bank accounts and mobile phone contracts with benefits. I get my Spotify free with Vodafone for example.

–Fong
5 of 13
When I was single I entertained at home more - now I have to get my OH to go out so I can have the girls round and that feels a bit mean!

-Claire
6 of 13

Batch up

My best tips as a longtime single are:

–Share Spotify/Netflix with friends.
–Single discount for council tax.
–If you buy takeaway then buy enough for free delivery and take for lunch next day.
–Tupperware for batch cooking meals.
–Always ask if discounts for single people are available (Airbnb etc.).
–Split an Amazon Prime account between flatmates or people in the same block.

Finally, one of the best bits about being single is: only spend money when you want to, and on what you want! If you don’t care for fancy wine or shampoo, don’t buy it. Save all your pennies for the things that make your heart sing; you answer to no one!

–Melanie
7 of 13

Get sneaky

For Spotify continue using your ex-boyfriend's plan until they notice. Five months and counting for me!

–Katy
Advertisement
8 of 13

Own it

With wedding/gift registries, get in there early and don't feel weird about buying that £10 baking tray. Ask if anyone else needs to split a room or transport to weddings, if you can put up with a stranger or even if you and a couple of friends can get a room with three beds in it.

–Sarah
9 of 13

Splurge on what YOU want

To be honest I'm pretty rubbish at being frugal but at least I know when I splurge on something I get all the use.

I'm not going to go into the bathroom and find my BF has used my expensive shampoo to wash his pits and bits, or used my spendy anti-ageing face cream on his elbows...

–Amy
10 of 13

Consider hostels

I have occasionally managed to get a single room (often in the UK, but found one in Oslo), and it's definitely worth it for the cheapness (watch out for the shared bathroom though). It's also worth trawling through the hostel listings to see if any have private rooms. I like hotels.co.uk for single searching as it lets you do it by area and then sort by cheapest, so you don't end up looking at somewhere miles out.

–Rachael
11 of 13

Go back in time

I’ve found that old buildings are more likely to have single rooms tucked into corners and attics, while modern purpose-built hotels have all double rooms. I stayed in Amsterdam for £60/night including breakfast in an Ibis.

–Lily
12 of 13

Go frozen

Buy frozen veg, it's easier to make one-person portions without the waste.

–Bronni

Work pals are scandalised by the fact that I buy frozen broccoli – but I would never eat a whole head of fresh broccoli before it goes off.

–Lily
13 of 13

Be iconic

I once did the Tuesday 2-for-1 deal at Pizza Hut, ate half of one pizza for dinner, ate second half for lunch next day, and froze the entire "free" pizza in three-slice portions to take out for lunches at a later date! Reheated surprisingly well.

–Natalie
Advertisement

More from Living

R29 Original Series