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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 March 2019

Couples who adopt ‘financial singledom’ have a recipe for success

Being financially single means you have full control over your money

Illustration by Gary Clement
Illustration by Gary Clement

“I can’t afford to have a chat or a cup of tea with her, because I’m financially single and I need to work.”

Financially single. I like that term. I first heard it a couple of weeks ago when a friend was telling of her frustration when a neighbour shows up expecting tea and a chat. The person conveying the story has to earn her keep. She works from home, but this does not mean she’s available. Her neighbour pays for nothing, and doesn’t work. She has no concept of the financially single’s perspective or priorities.

If you believe you can trust whoever it is you’re entering into a committed relationship with, then you’re on to a good thing.

Nima Abu Wardeh

Financially single. Say it. How does it feel to you?

Being financially single does not mean the person is romantically single. It means that they are responsible for earning their keep, and paying their way.

The concept sends shivers down many a spine – especially if it’s unexpected. For others, it is liberating. It means no chaos, no one to be accountable to, and no one who can get you into any sort of financial mess – that honour is yours alone.

I know people who become financially involved to save money – it’s one thing if we’re talking flat-share, an entirely different universe if your relationship involves sharing other aspects of life too – moving a relationship on to the ‘next stage’ primarily driven by monetary considerations can go spectacularly wrong.

It’s an extremely attractive proposition though – there’s a lot to be gained if the results of a dated study by Ohio State University are still valid. The study found that married people experienced a per person net worth increase of 77 per cent over their single counterparts. It also stated that the combined wealth of couples increased on average by 16 per cent for each year of marriage.

The big thing for me is shared responsibility and accountability – that’s where the money is.

If you believe you can trust whoever it is you’re entering into a committed relationship with, then you’re on to a good thing. Because yes, it does cost less when you share.

But, if they bring with them promises without delivering, or make their liabilities yours too, now that can get messy.

Mundane examples of this: imagine your spouse promising to look after paying credit card bills, but not doing it. Months of missed payments, along with exorbitant interest piled up, make for a nasty shock – especially if your hard earned, responsibly saved, cash is used to pay down the debt. More serious examples of this are things like taking out loans in a spouse’s name – using their credit rating, and not paying the money back. I know quite a few women in this category of financial hell.

There’s only one thing you can be in control of in life and that's how you behave. Being financially single means 100 per cent control over what your money is used for – period.

If you’re financially single, and responsible, embrace it. If you want to embark on coupledom, you’ve got a great base to build on – just make sure your partner to be has the same.

Let me go back to my friend who introduced me to the term - she is one half of a very committed couple. They each have financial baggage: he has two pre-teens – she has two adult children. They split all their overheads and joint life expenses– and keep the rest of their life’s outgoings very separate. Some might view this as thoroughly unromantic – but for them to stay true Valentines, this system cuts out the main reason couples argue.

With marriages for life increasingly not working out - it seems this couple has landed upon a great recipe for success. I have a feeling more people will embrace financial singledom as a way for living well and staying together.

Nima Abu Wardeh is a broadcast journalist, columnist and blogger. Share her journey on finding-nima.com

Updated: February 14, 2019 12:38 PM

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