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Can one live cheaper then two
Old 05-18-2019, 03:33 PM   #1
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Can one live cheaper then two

What are your thought on this topic? I would assume living the same life style and not trying to live cheaper, that one could live cheaper then then two.

Any thoughts or input would be of help for the future of all of us when that time comes. It is something that may go into your planning as we age.
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Old 05-18-2019, 03:40 PM   #2
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One can live cheaper if the higher spending spouse dies/divorces. Main cost is housing so if you’re talking about old age death then probably not.
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Old 05-18-2019, 03:51 PM   #3
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One person eats and drinks less than two, uses less toilet paper, and buys fewer clothes. Also, one person only needs one car whereas two people usually want their own cars to drive. Two tickets to movies...does anybody even go to the movies alone? Same with restaurants - you rarely see a singleton there.

Other than that, I can't think of many ways one is cheaper than two.
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Old 05-18-2019, 04:03 PM   #4
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My guess would be that, all else being equal that a single would spend about 60-70% of what a couple would spend.

Housing would be little different in our case as our abodes are only 2,000 sf and 1,450 sf. Most other costs would probably be about half.

If housing is 25% of the total and other costs are halved then that would be 62.5%. If housing is 30% of the total and other costs are halved then that would be 65%. So 60-70% sounds about right to me.
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Old 05-18-2019, 04:20 PM   #5
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One person eats and drinks less than two, uses less toilet paper, and buys fewer clothes. Also, one person only needs one car whereas two people usually want their own cars to drive. Two tickets to movies...does anybody even go to the movies alone? Same with restaurants - you rarely see a singleton there.

Other than that, I can't think of many ways one is cheaper than two.
Health insurance/care?
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Old 05-18-2019, 04:37 PM   #6
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Some good points made. I see health insurance premiums being one huge difference from two to just one.
I wasn't sure if I was missing something or not when thinking about that topic. My scenario was relating to a death of one, not divorce. I also assuming that the one would live in the same place as when there was two people and life style was the same going forward. Of course there is less in income (SS) when one passes also.
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Old 05-18-2019, 04:38 PM   #7
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This is one of those 'it depends' situations.
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Old 05-18-2019, 04:54 PM   #8
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My guess would be that, all else being equal that a single would spend about 60-70% of what a couple would spend.
That seems right to me.
About 5 or 6 years ago I remember reading an analysis of this topic from one of the big brokerages, and their take was that "two can live as cheaply as 1.6", so that would mean one could live at about 63% of the couple's expenses, in line with pb4's figure.
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Old 05-18-2019, 05:05 PM   #9
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That seems right to me.
About 5 or 6 years ago I remember reading an analysis of this topic from one of the big brokerages, and their take was that "two can live as cheaply as 1.6", so that would mean one could live at about 63% of the couple's expenses, in line with pb4's figure.
That would be about right. DH died in late 2016. The mortgage is unchanged of course, and so are insurance and property taxes, but utilities are down because I can tolerate a wider range of temps than he could and I'm out of the house a lot (and turn the thermostat back). Groceries are maybe 80% of 2016 levels; alcohol is way down. (DH liked a nightcap but rarely finished it.) Entertainment is down; taxes are up because income didn't change that much and singles get slammed. I realized that (surprise!) airfare for one person is half that for two but now I do two major trips per year instead of the one we did together.

The big change has been that I no longer need to plan for the scary scenario with one person in LTC and one still in the home.
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Old 05-18-2019, 05:10 PM   #10
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That seems right to me.
About 5 or 6 years ago I remember reading an analysis of this topic from one of the big brokerages, and their take was that "two can live as cheaply as 1.6", so that would mean one could live at about 63% of the couple's expenses, in line with pb4's figure.
What I have read in many places is this:

"Two can live as cheaply as one, for half as long" -- Anon
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Old 05-18-2019, 05:13 PM   #11
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. Two tickets to movies...does anybody even go to the movies alone? .

I do ! I love going to chick flicks by myself and having popcorn for lunch .
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Old 05-18-2019, 05:18 PM   #12
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What are your thought on this topic? I would assume living the same life style and not trying to live cheaper, that one could live cheaper then then two.
Cheaper? Yes, of course.

How much cheaper? Hard to say.

One car. One healthcare premium. Less food. Fewer clothes.
Perhaps a smaller house/apartment.

Cheaper certainly.
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Old 05-18-2019, 05:30 PM   #13
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Entertainment is down; taxes are up because income didn't change that much and singles get slammed. I realized that (surprise!) airfare for one person is half that for two but now I do two major trips per year instead of the one we did together.

The big change has been that I no longer need to plan for the scary scenario with one person in LTC and one still in the home.
To me these would be the big differences. Travel, dining out and alcohol costs would pretty much be cut in half for us, as would medical and care expenses, both real and potential. You could probably downsize housing, although many people would prefer not to, if they have the means.
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Old 05-18-2019, 05:37 PM   #14
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In general the fixed costs of a home are the same for a couple or single, assuming staying in the home (property taxes, maintenance, etc.) So unless that one single person downsizes their home to "half" or less, then achieving a half-price lifestyle is going to be tricky.

For most of us, if our spouses pre-decease us, we'd not be in a rush to move. Maybe we'd travel more or go out more for company, visit family more often, dine out vs. cook for one more often? Having seen their spouse die too soon, would they prefer to up their spending to give themselves the things their spouse would have always wanted them to have?

Or not, maybe that person was drawn into social situations more by their spouse, and now travels less, eats more simply.

It's very individual.

But if all things were equal, and nothing changed, and habits for both were the same? Then I think about 60-70% of the costs remain for the single person. It's one of the reasons why "grey divorce" can shatter ER plans even if it's an amicable split.
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Old 05-18-2019, 05:53 PM   #15
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When one is hit with a serious illness late in life, often the spouse assumes the duty of caregiver. This option is no longer available when one passes. The remaining individual will be faced with big caregiver bills if and when they are incapacitated, and it will dwarf the cost of housing, food, etc.
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Old 05-18-2019, 06:23 PM   #16
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When one is hit with a serious illness late in life, often the spouse assumes the duty of caregiver. This option is no longer available when one passes. The remaining individual will be faced with big caregiver bills if and when they are incapacitated, and it will dwarf the cost of housing, food, etc.
Yes, that could be a concern. I saw a little of it when I needed to be sedated for a dental implant placement. DS, my only child, lives 3 hours away and works FT. Most of my friends from church live pretty far from me and many are still employed. I have to admit I'm also TERRIBLE about asking for help- I got a paid service to drive me. The oral surgeon wanted someone who will wait there, and NOT Uber or taxi service. One divorced friend spent a week or so in a rehab facility after getting a knee replacement because there was no one to care for him at home. Medicare paid for it; I suspect there will be more of us in that situation.

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In general the fixed costs of a home are the same for a couple or single, assuming staying in the home (property taxes, maintenance, etc.) So unless that one single person downsizes their home to "half" or less, then achieving a half-price lifestyle is going to be tricky.
I saw quite a few sad tales when I was on the Widows and Widowers' Board in which the remaining partner couldn't afford to live in the house alone, either because of the loss of wages of the deceased spouse or the cut in total SS income. DH and I had downsized the year before; I'm VERY glad we did. I love this house and the carrying costs are pretty manageable.
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Old 05-18-2019, 06:43 PM   #17
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Can one live cheaper then two? What are your thought on this topic? I would assume living the same life style and not trying to live cheaper, that one could live cheaper then then two.

Any thoughts or input would be of help for the future of all of us when that time comes. It is something that may go into your planning as we age.
I love some of the questions that show up here. They never fail to amaze. How does one think of a question like this, formulated as this one is? Must one live cheaper than two? Of course not. Can one live cheaper than two?

Does a bear etc etc etc?

Ha
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Old 05-18-2019, 06:53 PM   #18
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I prefer not to know the answer, which is why we have both taken the 100% survivor provision on our pensions and why I have a paid up whole life policy to make up for the loss of Social Security should I predecease the young wife (the GPO means she won't get a survivor benefit and she is not eligible for her own). So the income coming in the door will remain the same for the survivor once one of us dies. That income covers our total regular spending. The portfolio is extra and it is what it is whether we are both here or not.
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Old 05-18-2019, 06:59 PM   #19
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And don't forget the impact on taxes when "living single". It can be eye-watering.

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Old 05-18-2019, 07:00 PM   #20
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One can definitely live cheaper than two
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