Personal Finance in the Singular Form

This was originally posted on 5/5/2008 on my now-defunct blog, Fangirling my Finances. Some conversations have come up recently that made me dig it up and dust it off.

All y’all who are happily partnered can just go ahead and sit this post out. Go make a phone call or send a gushy email to your lovemuffin, okay?

I need to talk to the single folks out there.

Yeah, hi, how you doin’? I bet you’re noticing what I’ve noticed in the PF world– it’s wedded (ha! pun.) to the idea that all people needs must be hooked up in pairs to get your debt reducing/retirement saving going.

I am happily, obsessively single. I like my personal space, I like my personal time, I like not having to clean up after anyone who’s not me and I like being able to pick the movie and not have to worry about whether or not the person in the chair next to me thinks it sucks.

PF World is really, really into this whole life partner deal, nu? Pretty much every single beginner’s article I read, and most of the intermediate and advanced ones, assume you will need to discuss financial decisions with your partner.

Well, in this dance, much like Billy Idol, I am Dancing With Myself.

[Pause so all our inner 12 year olds can stop giggling.]

It gives me a lot more freedom, and it also comes with some restrictions. I was able to take a second job without contemplating the impact on my romantical relationship, on the account I didn’t have a romantical relationship. It also means that I will probably have to put off some big things, like purchasing my own home for longer as I’m going to have to come up with the down payment all by my lonesome, which will impact my retirement, et cetera, freakoutium.

Being single also means that any misteak in my monies is all my own fault, and there’s nowhere else to spread the blame. That can be really big and scary when you start to think about it.

So, here’s what I’ve learned about dealing with personal finances while being single, which I am passing on to you:

  • Do not use another person’s timeline – If you start thinking, “Oh, look, Blogger X paid off eleventy-gabillion-gajillion dollars of debt and bought a new house with cash and built a two-year emergency fund in just six months, when in that same amount of time I only paid off $1500,” you will be full of FAIL. We do not want you full of FAIL. We want you full of WIN. And flavor. Build your own timeline with realistic goals and benchmarks based on your own personal situation, and focus on your own successes.
  • Stick-to-it-ness is dependent on the individual – You could have fifteen life partners* all nagging you on to save money, and that would mean bupkiss when faced with cash in your pocket and Something Shiny in front of you. It’s your money, step up and take ownership of it. You need cheerleaders? Get a blog, we’ll all root you on.
  • Learn, Let Go, and Move On – You are going to screw something up royally at some point. Do not beat yourself up over it, and most importantly DO NOT GIVE UP. Learn from your mistake, let go of the money that’s been lost, and move on. You’ll do better next time.
  • Take Care of Yourself – Physically, mentally, and spiritually, folks! It’s just a fact, if you’re single and you are down for the count, there is no one to pick up for you. So get yourself checked out by a doctor regularly, reduce stress in your favorite way (I like blowing up little Lego Jedi with my Nintendo DS), and try some meditation stuff from whatever spiritual path you’re comfy with.

And, if for some reason you decide to leave the blissfully single state** for a fantastic new adventure in partnered life, well, I hear tell a fiscally competent and confident person is considered dead sexy. So work it, darlings!

*But I think that’s illegal in most places.
** I hear it happens sometimes. Not sure why you’d want to, but it’s a strange world we live in.

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