Single women don’t want to shell out for your next milestone, saying “it’s too expensive to be single”

  • Nearly a quarter (23%) of women don’t have any money saved for an emergency 
  • 26% of single women say it’s too expensive to be single 
  • Single or not, 21% of women say they care more about having fun than saving money

In March, the U.S. producer price index rose at the fastest pace in nearly a year from the year prior, which means – in short – it’s still expensive to exist right now. In times of high inflation, it’s nice to be able to share the financial load with a partner, especially for women who earn an average of 16% less than men. However, not every woman has a partner and not every woman wants one. This begs the question: how does a woman’s relationship status impact her financial status? 

According to a new study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, 36% of women don’t feel financially stable right now. This number jumps to 40% for single women and falls to 34% for coupled women. When looking at emergency savings, a key indicator of a person’s financial stability, nearly a quarter (23%) of women say they don’t have any money saved for an emergency. This trend was more pronounced among single women compared to women who are currently coupled up, 29% compared to 20%. 

What’s more, single women are less likely to flee the nest. According to the study, one-in-five single women reportedly live at home with their parents or other relatives, compared to 7% of parentered women. 

Single women are stressed about their finances and don’t want to shell out for your next milestone. 

Nearly half (47%) of single women say living on their single income is a major source of stress for them. That’s because, for more than a quarter (26%) of single women, it’s too expensive to be single. Compared to their coupled friends, single women say they have a harder time affording certain activities, including vacations (50%), dining out (34%) and entertainment (27%). More striking, however, is that 35% of single women say they have a harder time affording basic necessities, like rent, groceries and other bills compared to their coupled friends. To keep up, nearly one-in-10 (9%) single women have gone into debt. This number jumps to 17% for single Gen Z women. 

This financial strain could be leading to feelings of resentment. According to the study, 21% of single women say they’re sick of spending money on their friends’ life milestones, including engagements, weddings and babies. Single Gen Z women are the most fed up, with 29% saying they’re sick of spending money on friends’ life milestones, along with 25% of single millennial women. 

To bridge the financial gap, some single women are seeking a partner – and more than one-in-10 (13%) say they want a partner for their money. That includes 20% of single Gen Z women and 17% of single millennial women. Of those who wish they were in a relationship, nearly a quarter (24%) say they wish they were in a relationship for financial reasons, like sharing living expenses, saving more money and stressing less about money overall.

When it comes to achieving major financial milestones, some single women believe they can do so without a partner while others say they’re dependent on a partner to achieve such milestones. More than one-in-five (22%) single women believe their ability to experience future financial milestones, like buying a home or saving for retirement, hinges on finding a partner. This jumps to 34% for single Gen Z women and 31% for single millennial women. Conversely, 65% of single women believe they can achieve major financial milestones on their own. 

Coupled women are financially independent as many out-earn their partner.  

Despite being coupled up, 47% of partnered women consider themselves financially independent and a quarter say they earn more money than their partner. Younger women in relationships were more likely to out-earn their partner, as was the case for 33% of Gen Z and 29% of millennials. However, that’s not the case for all coupled women. According to the study, 16% of coupled women say they’re with their partner because they financially support them. 

For some partnered women, being in a relationship helps them save money and for others, it drives them to spend. Nearly half (49%) of partnered women say being in a relationship enables them to save more money than if they were single. This could have something to do with how partners split the bill – 46% of partnered women say they feel like bills are split equitably between them and their other half. On the flip side, 37% of women in relationships say being coupled up causes them to spend more money than if they were single. This was especially true for partnered Gen Z and millennial women (46% and 41% respectively).

Women are doing things differently. 

Women are forging new paths and leaving society’s expectations behind. 40% of women say they’re not following the societal timeline of getting married, buying a house and having kids. This number jumps to 49% when looking at single women and hovers around 35% for those who have a partner. Generationally, millennial women were the most likely to say they’re not sticking to societal norms (45% compared to 41% of Gen Z, 40% of Gen X and 34% of boomer+). 

Drilling down deeper, it appears women’s priorities may have changed. Instead of prioritizing life milestones like getting married and buying a house, women are prioritizing their careers and paying down debt. In fact, the most important life milestone for women is being debt-free (30%), followed by traveling and enjoying time off (20%). The prioritization of life milestones differs for women across generations. For example, Gen Z women are most focused on career success (21%) whereas millennial women are focused on being debt-free (24%). 

For women who do wish to get married, 19% say their goal is to be a DINK, referring to couples with dual income and no kids. And, when you break it down by generation, Gen Z was the most likely generation to set their sights on becoming a DINK (32% compared to 18% of millennials, 19% of Gen X and 11% of boomers+).

Girls just want to have fun. 

Outside of life milestones, women, single or not, are prioritizing having fun and treating themselves. More than one-in-five women (21%) say they care more about having fun than saving money. This trend was most pronounced among Gen Z women, 38% of whom said they care more about having fun than saving money. Another 70% of women say it’s important for them to have enough money to treat themselves whenever they want. This includes things like dinner with friends and shopping for new clothes.  

“The makeup of women’s financial lives has shifted, likely due to a shift in economic factors, like housing affordability and the rising cost of higher education,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Intuit Credit Karma. “As a result, women are no longer solely focused on getting married and starting families, but instead focused on building their careers and prioritizing debt repayment. At the same time, life is more expensive now and it’s holding some women back from prospering and serving as a major source of stress for others, especially single women who are stuck with 100% of the bill, 100% of the time. Regardless of a person’s relationship status, it’s important to have financial independence, which can start by building an emergency savings fund. If that sounds intimidating to you, consider setting aside as little as $10/ month and build from there. The goal is to have three to six months worth of living expenses saved in case of an emergency, but don’t let that overwhelm you – start small.” 


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma on April 5 to April 9, 2024 among 2,027 adults ages 18 and above who identify as women.