It turns out that single people aren't in an enviable position when it comes to their finances compared with married people, who often have to provide for a family. According to a new survey by TD Ameritrade, only 29% of single survey respondents in the U.S., or less than one-third, said that they were very financially secure. That compares with 43% of married individuals.
The survey polled 1,000 single and 1,000 married adults 37 and older. TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation (AMTD) found that three in ten single Americans are not saving any money versus 17% of married people who are not saving. Single people are also making less money than their married counterparts and are more likely to blow their entire paycheck without putting any money in savings. Married people are also more likely to own a home than their single counterparts. Given the survey polled people in the same age groups and at similar stages of their work lives, it underscores the big difference between those who are single and those who are married when it pertains to their finances.
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"When it comes to retirement, many singles don't feel they're able to afford it," said Dara Luber, senior manager of retirement at TD Ameritrade, in a report looking at the results of the broker's survey. "According to the survey, they're clearly making less and saving less." The Omaha, Nebraska-based broker said that one reason single people may be saving less and spending more is that they don't have a partner to help with monthly expenses like rent or car payments. Two incomes are better than one, and married couples that are both bringing in income are likely to be in a better financial position than a person living alone on one income.
Another big divergence in saving habits between married and single people includes the existence of an emergency fund, which many financial advisors say is an important thing to have. The survey found that about one-quarter of single people have money set aside in an emergency fund compared with 40% of married people. The rule of thumb is to have three to six months of living expenses to cover any emergencies, noted TD Ameritrade.
Luber pointed to disability insurance as one way to start to create emergency savings. "Make sure you have enough health and long-term disability insurance to cover yourself if something happens," Luber said. "You don't want to have to eat into retirement savings. That typically should be the last resort. You're going to pay a penalty, and you won't get the benefit of compounded growth."