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  1. iSelect commissioned YouGov Galaxy Pty Ltd to conduct a national online survey between 6 April and 13 April 2023. The sample is N=2,112 Gen Z's and Millennials aged 18-43 comprised of a nationally representative sample of 1,000 singles living alone and 1,112 couples living together, no kids. 

The Cost of Loving

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The Cost of Loving

    t was a fine summer’s day when this 28-year-old marketing professional was given a new project. “You’re single,” her happily engaged slash married slash coupled-up co-workers declared. “You should write about love, money and the singles tax.” It’s now autumn  and this 28-year-old is armed with research, a bucket of references to ‘90s rom-coms that set very poor expectations for adulthood, and a first-hand understanding of the ‘singles tax’. Although we all know knowledge is power, somehow this singleton wishes her new project ended up being more Never Been Kissed and less Girl, Interrupted.  Alas, although this story might seem like it ends up bleak for we singles, stay tuned and keep reading— like all good rom-coms, this story has a happy ending!


"I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?"

It’s no secret a lot of Aussies are doing it tough right now. With stagnant wages, a lack of rental options, and inflation, things are becoming increasingly overwhelming for the average person. During any time of uncertainty, it makes sense that people choose to retreat and become more conservative with their choices, but is that really the case in this current economic climate?

More concerned about money + Making more cutbacks 

= Prepared for the future… right?

Financial security or financial freedom?

So, getting down to brass tax, what is the cost of loving?
My little single heart is unhappy to announce that, based on the research, the DINKs are winning out financially over us SINKs (love and happiness not enough for them, eh!?).1 However, the good news is that we SINKs are a resilient lot, and although we might be spending more and saving less, we are still having a good time doing it!

Whether you are a couple or a single, it’s good to remember there are positives to both. With that said, we can still keep our childhood dreams of adulthood alive, right?

The False Promise of a Nancy Myers Adulthood

Adult life seemed pretty simple when you were a kid (thanks, Nancy Meyers!). You grow up, get a job, buy a house, get married, have kids… then the next generation rinses and repeats. Easy, right?

Oh boy, were we wrong!  Life, shockingly, is not quite as straightforward as that. Somewhere in between the invention of dating apps, learning about the woes of the housing market and realising how much a weekly shop costs, we’ve discovered our childhood beliefs were a fairy tale. Life isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t cheap, so what does that mean for Aussies living today? Inspired by the infamous and iconic bet in the timeless classic 10 Things I Hate About You, a (far less sexist) hypothesis was formed: When compared with their coupled-up counterparts, singles are paying more via the “singles tax.”

To find out more, iSelect commissioned YouGov in 2023 to conduct a national survey of over 2,000 Aussies to find the true cost of loving and see whether singles really are losing out financially when compared with couples. The research discovered that there is, in fact, a singles tax. 

The research found SINKs were more concerned about their financial situation over the coming 12 months when compared to DINKs. Logically, you’d assume SINKs would be making more cutbacks in preparation for the future.

SINKs are also losing out on $1,089 in extra savings annually compared to double income earners with no kids (a.k.a. DINKs).1  Not only do DINKs have the opportunity to save more but SINKs spend on average an estimated $2,198 per month on common household bills and housing costs – 41 per cent more than an individual living in a DINK household who spend $1,558 per month.1 Suddenly Meg Ryan settling for Billy Crystal seems to make more sense.   So, should we singles head for the dating apps and find someone stat or is there more than meets the eye when analysing the data?

Plot twist! Our research suggests that while SINKs appear more concerned, they are actually less inclined to make cutbacks when compared with DINKs1. As a single writer (shout out anyone with some cute single friends!), this result isn’t shocking when you consider that without a partner, future decisions such as buying a house, planning for a wedding, or having children aren’t necessarily set in stone just yet.

But, as Julia Roberts repeatedly learnt with Richard Gere, love is real, but is it really like it is in the movies? Do you find ‘the one’, go sailing off into the sunset and live a happily uncomplicated ever after? Well, the good thing about those movies is that you don’t have to see the boring logistics of ‘happily ever after’, such as:

  • ‘Who moves in with whom?’ 
  • ‘How much do you actually earn?’ 
  • ‘Who is bringing more assets into the relationship?’
  • ‘Wow, you spend a lot on shoes for a journalist with one column a week, should you reconsider your spending habits?’

When you throw assets, careers, expenses, debts, and future wants and needs in with love, things can get messy. Suddenly your heart-throb is a massive headache. But are you better off dealing with these co-dependent hindrances or should you revel in singledom and financial independence?

Although loved-up Aussies have more money to pocket annually, we singletons don’t have to reach into our freezer for a pint of Ben and Jerry’s to cry into just yet (writer’s note: damn, I was really craving some choc-chip cookie dough!) Why? Well, although single Aussies are certainly feeling the hit to their hip pocket, we do have more financial freedom compared to those in relationships.
When I talk financial freedom , I don’t mean being Macaulay-Culkin-in-the-‘90s rich, buying anything and everything, I mean independently free from a partner questioning why you need a new PlayStation 5. When you’re in a couple, these choices are no longer a solitary decision and suddenly you’re checking the shared account to see if you can get that extra cocktail. When restrictions come into place, people can get a little desperate to get what they want… which brings us to the topic of financial infidelity.

iSelect’s research uncovered that nearly a third of DINKs surveyed (31 per cent) have hidden a purchase from a partner1. This is understandable, as losing your autonomy to spend money how you want can be a difficult pill to swallow. Unfortunately, some Aussies aren’t quite as sympathetic to the plight. More than half of Aussies surveyed (51 per cent) say that withholding or being dishonest about important financial information with a partner (i.e. financial infidelity) is as bad as, or worse than physical infidelity.1   

That seems like a very strong endorsement for financial transparency in a relationship and may point to why our DINKs were more aggressive with their cutbacks  over the next 12 months. Evidently, when you have someone to answer to, throwing caution to the wind with your finances isn’t really an option.    

Side note: looking forward to the new version of Fatal Attraction where the object of desire is a new Chanel clutch and the couple’s undoing is a crazed bank and total financial ruin.

Financial infidelity, freedom and what it means for Aussies

Feel free to live vicariously through ‘90s rom-coms where both leads are beautiful and working average careers that somehow afford them designer wardrobes and two-bedroom NYC apartments! And just like that, our story of love and money is over. Here’s hoping this writer’s rom-com fantasies are waiting just around the corner.

 We may not be able to help you find love. BUT we may be able to help you save… 

We’ll just leave this button here:

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