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10 Things to Do With Your Money While You Are Single

Money is so complicated. It’s hard to distinguish needs and wants, and harder still to figure out how to spend less than you earn. This is so true regardless of marital status, but your relationship with money changes when you associate it with your relationship with another person.

In fact, money is the number one thing married couples argue about. I know that money issues for me have come up while dating, and have shaped my relationships in the past. A few years ago, I was dating someone who made a lot more money than I did, and he was the kind of person who liked to throw his money around. He liked to show off. He had a flashy car, fancy clothes, and he enjoyed taking me to expensive places. I was not making much money at the time, and I felt a little like his charity project.

One of the last nails in the coffin that was our relationship happened (in all places) in a gorgeous Tuscan village at dinner time. He made some comment about how I wasn’t thankful enough that he was footing the bill for this trip, and that conversation ended in tears. I wanted to leave, but realized I didn’t have enough money to get a plane ticket back myself, and was stuck on this trip for the next several days. I know that sounds like #firstworldproblems but I was miserable. I’d never felt more alone than I did halfway around the world, spending time with someone who was mean to me.

When I got back home, I thought, never again will I be in that situation. I took a long hard look at my finances and realized that there were several things I needed to do while I was still single. Money allows you the freedom of choosing the way you spend your time. Paying the “change your ticket” fee is far better than spending time with someone who quite clearly thinks you’re taking advantage of them.

If you follow these ten things to do with your money while you are single, you’ll be well ahead of your peers, and much more able to talk to your spouse about money without being defensive.

  • 10 Things To Do With Your Money While You Are Single 1 of 11
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  • 1. Pay back your parents 2 of 11
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    Your parents may offer to help you with your wedding. If so, that's great. And kind. And generous. And wonderful. But you better be sure that you've paid back any debt you owe them before you let them make a huge financial decision on your behalf! I know when I was in my post-college years, I borrowed money so I could put a deposit down on an apartment. My mom kept track, and told me how much I owed her. I paid her back as soon as I could. Even though parental loans are often interest-free, you earn a lot more "grown up" credit if you pay those loans back before you embark on a family-making adventure of your own.

     

    Image by FrugalPortland

  • 2. Pay off your credit card 3 of 11
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    You want to start your married life without credit card debt. So get those puppies paid off! There's no reason that your future life partner needs to be on the hook for your past monetary transgressions.

     

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  • 3. Pay off your car 4 of 11
    10 Things to do with your money while you're single

    In that same vein, you should be able to pay off a car before you enter into matrimony. If that means you can't really afford a $20,000 new car, then so be it. Find something used, something reliable, and something you can pay off in a short period of time.

     

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  • 4. Plan for your student loans 5 of 11
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    Some people are in a tough spot with student loans, so I wouldn't say that you should have them paid off before you get married. That's absurd! Some loans won't be paid off for another 25-30 years. But you should have a plan for how you're going to tackle them. Are you paying them off as fast as you can?

     

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  • 5. Decide to stop financing things 6 of 11
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    Don't finance anything else. You don't need a new furniture set (and you shouldn't be financing that anyway!). Live simply. Make the decision that you'll get into higher ticket items together, once you're married. For now, don't accumulate any new lines of credit.

     

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  • 6. Start saving for retirement 7 of 11
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    Have you set up an IRA? How about an employee-sponsored 401(K)? Do that now. There's no time like the present. Don't wait until you're married to decide where you're going to get enough money to retire.

     

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  • 7. Set aside savings 8 of 11
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    You're not living paycheck to paycheck, are you? Start setting aside savings now, so that you will have some money when you're married.

     

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  • 8. Negotiate a raise 9 of 11
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    Are you underpaid? Do you think there's room in your company's budget to give you a raise? Negotiate that now, because if you wait, then you might be fooled into thinking you don't need a raise by the "security" that comes with sharing a bank account with another person.

     

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  • 9. Sell off some of your stuff 10 of 11
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    I'd be willing to bet that you don't need at least a third of the stuff you have, and if you start selling it now, you'll have a little more cash for your savings, and a little more space for someone new.

     

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  • 10. Stand on your own 11 of 11
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    This is really important. You've got to be able to stand on your own two feet financially before you marry someone. If you don't, then you run the very serious risk of letting your partner have the power of the purse strings, and you don't want to start your marriage with that kind of imbalance.

     

    Image by FrugalPortland

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