The Census by Statistics New Zealand in 2018 identified that 23% of households in New Zealand consisted of one-person. The proportion of one-person households declined between 2013 and 2018 despite an increase in the number of single households consisting of people aged 65 years and older. Statistics New Zealand noted the decline in the proportion of single-person households was in part due to an increase in the proportion of 20 – 34 year olds living with their parents. That’s likely to reflect the decline in housing affordability during that period.

Some singles delay marriage in hopes of getting their finances in order. Others have financial challenges as a result of divorce, death of their spouse, pregnancy outside of marriage, or frivolous lifestyles.

Singles often miss the traditional milestones of buying a home, having children, and long-term financial planning. They must be extra cautious with their income and expenses while fully trusting God.

Financial considerations for singles

Living on one income today in preparation for tomorrow requires wisdom. My advice to singles, young and old, is to learn how to steward money. Handling money from a Biblical point of view will help you to face the future without fear. The Bible suggests:

“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise for the rest of your life..”  (Proverbs 19:20 NLT)

Find trusted advisors who can help you to take a short- and long-term view of finances. Goals must be set, and these principles apply:
Work with joy
Give first
Save second
Spend wisely
Diversify your investments

Good housing decisions are key

Many single people are not able to buy a home due to their inability to qualify for a mortgage because they don’t have enough income to meet the mortgage payments by themselves. In 2018 39.5% of single person households were renting compared with 34.6% of all households. Housing tends to be the largest annual expense for single-person households. Downsizing or relocating can eliminate some of the financial stress.

Rising rents are a problem since they have been increasing in response to high house prices in recent years. However, they haven’t fallen over the past 15 months, even though house prices have fallen. That increase in housing cost relative to your total income means you may need to consider alternative housing options:

  1. If you are living in a large home, it may be necessary to sell and move to a smaller home
  2. Take on a boarder or flatmate. Your property rates, maintenance and heating costs are likely to be less in a smaller home.
  3. If you have a good relationship with your children, there are now more options for adding an additional house on their section without needing to subdivide or adding a self-contained unit onto their existing house.
  4. Co-owning a house with family or a friend is also possible, but seek good legal advice before proceeding with this.
  5. Living near family is important, but there are large variations in the cost of living across New Zealand and also within the same city. Looking at other options may reduce your financial stress.

Prepare for economic turbulence

Inflation and the economic recession are concerns for all of us, single or married. We do not know what the future holds, but we know that economic conditions are always fluctuating. Abiding by Biblical financial principles and making wise choices can cushion the fallout we may experience in the coming months.

In addition, variable expenses should always be closely analysed. Look back over credit card and bank receipts to see how much is being spent on groceries, transport, utilities, and entertainment. Seek discounts, eliminate waste, and make some cost-saving sacrifices. Many people need to find creative ways to reduce their spending. Recording all spending for at least 30 days will help you see where your dollars go. We are facing uncertain economic times, so we need to be extra savvy. Frugality does not mean misery. It can provide freedom!


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Peter Crawford

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