Retirement Planning for Singles: What’s Different?

Do single adults face different retirement planning needs and priorities than those who are married? In fact, it might surprise you to learn just how many differences there are. While some of the basic concepts are the same, there are a number of ways in which singles face a simpler financial outlook—but also some ways in which theirs is a much harder task.

The Good and the Bad of Single Retirement Planning

Nowhere is this more true than in the field of retirement planning. Planning for a healthy, financially stable retirement—without the input of a spouse—can in some ways be liberating: While spouses sometimes struggle to align their own retirement expectations and goals, singles have a much easier time charting a course for the kind of retirement they really want.

From a strictly monetary standpoint, though, a single person faces a much steeper climb. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that, as a single, you can get away with saving half of what a married couple saves; in reality, you’ll probably need about 80 percent of it—and you’ll have to accumulate that based on just one salary. To make saving that money even harder, singles have to contend with high income taxes—making the need for disciplined savings and sound financial counsel all the more pressing.

More Than Just Retirement Planning

Also important to note: Singles need to have financial priorities beyond their own retirement. For one thing, singles may still be responsible for college tuition for their kids. For another, there is estate planning—choosing to leave behind a legacy for those who depend on you.

In fact, estate planning is an important concern even for singles who do not have dependents. If nothing else, single adults of all ages and from all walks of life should consider estate planning as a way to protect their family members from being financially burdened, should they pass unexpectedly. (Someone will have to pay for the funeral and burial, after all.) For those who do have children, there is also the matter of life insurance—an important means of protecting your financial legacy.

The road to sound finances is never exactly easy, and there are some ways in which working with a partner or spouse can complicate matters; then again, single folks face their own share of challenges. The importance of getting good financial advice from an experienced planner cannot be overstated: Singles planning for their own financial future need to have someone right there in their corner.