people, who now make up the majority of American adults,
often have spending and saving concerns that differ from
those of married folks. Eating and drinking expenses are
among the big ones ó buying a 5-gallon jar of pickles
at the warehouse club to save money doesnít seem like
such a good idea when youíre buying for one.
"singles penalty" for buying small amounts is
especially apparent with food, but strategies specific
to singletons can help.
government statistics show that single Americans make up
more than half of the adult population for the first
time ó at least since the government began collecting
such statistics in 1976.
a record 20 percent of adult Americans 25 or older, or
42 million people, have never married, according to a
recent analysis by the Pew Research Center.
course being single can take different forms ó it
doesnít mean weíre becoming a nation of "Seinfeld"
characters. Single includes young people living alone,
single parents, unmarried people living with partners or
roommates, and widows and widowers.
the obvious difference of potentially having one fewer
income-producer, singles have a variety of money issues
that differ from marrieds. For example, unless they have
someone depending on their income, they might not need
life insurance. However, disability insurance might be
among singles who only have to financially fend for
themselves, food spending can be a sticking point.
no small expense. Single people who lived alone last
year on average spent $3,654 on food, more than 40
percent of which was dining out, according to the
federal governmentís Consumer Expenditure Survey. By
contrast, a family of four spent about $2,400 per
youíre single and find youíre spending too much on
food and dining out, hereís what to look at.
Eating out almost always costs more than cooking at home
ó unless youíre OK with fast-food dollar menus. So,
the obvious advice is to dine out on special occasions
and when you really want to, not because youíre a poor
meal planner. Ditto for beverages, including morning
coffee and evening alcohol.
stock. The main strategy for food buying is the same for
singles as it is for families ó donít shop for what
you need. Instead, shop for whatís on sale and stock
up. In other words, buy multiples when itís cheap ó
think half-price ó and few or none when itís full
price. The difference for singles is the extent to which
they can do that. Bulk-buying perishables is a bad idea,
and some singlesí small apartments might not lend
themselves to stockpiling jars, cans and boxes of food.
buying. "I donít think singles necessarily have
to stop buying in bulk, but they certainly donít need
to stock up the way families do," said Jill Cataldo,
who teaches classes on supermarket couponing and founded
SuperCouponing.com. "I continue to teach quite a
few singles in my coupon workshops, and I hear from them
that they may buy one or two extra of something during a
good sale, versus buying six boxes of cereal like a
family might want to do."
larger sizes of nonperishable items that you know you
will use, said Stephanie Nelson, founder of
CouponMom.com. "Compare the cost per ounce, and if
the larger size of laundry detergent is half the unit
cost of the small size, save by getting the larger
size," she said.
Woroch, a savings expert with a site at andreaworoch.com,
suggests splitting a warehouse club membership with a
friend or family member.
are certain items that you can save money on and make it
convenient to stock up on so you donít have to
regularly replace them, like batteries, toilet paper and
toiletries," she said.
warning is to avoid buying too much perishable food in
bulk that will just be thrown away, which greatly
increases the unit cost of the food you actually ate.
a single person, you may have more social commitments
throughout the week or be willing to make last-minute
plans to meet a friend for dinner," Woroch said.
"If you plan a week of meals and buy perishable
items ahead, you may wind up wasting expired food."
freezer is your friend. For some perishables, you can
divide and conquer. For example, $3 per pound is a fine
price on ground beef, but you wonít often find it in
1-pound packages. Go ahead and buy the 5-pound pack and
divide into 1-pound portions and freeze them, Cataldo
broadly and perhaps most important, use your freezer for
batch cooking. "When ingredients for favorite meals
are on sale but you canít eat the recipe that serves
12, make it and divide into individual portions and
freeze," Nelson suggested.
serves a dual purpose. First, you can buy in larger
quantities for a lower unit price.
you have ready-made meals that are only microwave
minutes away the next time you arrive home late and
hungry, perhaps reducing the urge to order pricier
will be glad to have premade meals," Nelson said.
also means you can vary your meals, rather than cooking
a big batch and eating the same leftovers three nights
in a row.
fish in individually frozen pieces in a large bag to pay
the lowest price, Nelson said.
said frozen fish is actually fresher because it is
frozen right after being caught, preserving its
one piece out to thaw 24 hours before you need it,"
still work. Couponing, via coupons in the newspaper,
printed from online sources or stored electronically,
can still work for single people. They are most
effective when you apply a coupon to an item already on
some ways, itís easier to coupon as a single ó you
can get by with just one newspaper per week because
stocking up doesnít equate to buying a whole bunch of
stuff," said Cataldo, who often advocates that
families buy multiple Sunday newspapers to take
advantage of coupon deals.
suggested paying attention to high-value coupons for
non-food items too.
generally do not have to buy multiple quantities, and
coupons for personal-care products can be $5 or
more," she said.
dining. If youíre especially social with a tight group
of friends, consider taking turns cooking.
day a week, each of you cook for the entire group, with
any leftovers divided among those attending," said
Jeff Yeager, author of four books on frugal living,
including his most recent, "How to Retire the
way, you can shop for and cook in larger quantities, but
only for a single dinner each week."
Many people have intentions of bringing lunch to work to
cut food costs, but it can be a difficult habit to form.
When Yeager worked in an office, he would instead take a
bag of groceries to work every Monday and make lunches
on the spot, rather than keeping groceries at home and
"having the hassle of packing an individual lunch