About 12 years ago, recently divorced with two small children, I found myself in the too familiar place of financial insecurity. After nearly 20 years with my now ex-husband, I had no clue about how to take care of myself or my children financially on my own.
So I did what every good divorced woman with two small children does: I set out to get remarried. After all, I was raised to believe that a family includes a mother, father, and children, and a man is necessary for financial security. Simply, where I come from, women with children are married. My divorce tore apart that sacred family structure, and it was now my responsibility — or so I believed — to put it back together. Within six months, I found the right man to fix my now broken family and got remarried.
But the reality is, I didn’t need to. Sure, once upon a time, women like me had to depend on men. We didn’t have successful careers. We weren’t financially independent. But women have come a long way, as has society. Our culture has evolved to the point where women are no longer expected to be married, where we can be successful in our own rights, and where the definition of “family” is interpreted in myriad ways. Not only are we strong and capable enough to be single, but there are also plenty of awesome perks that come along with it. In fact, one of the most significant bonuses to being a single woman is the financial freedom it affords.
I recently met two dear friends for happy hour. Both friends are women who have recently chosen singlehood and made that decision because of the aforementioned perks. We chatted about financial independence and I asked my friends what being single means to them. While both of them were previously married and have children, they also have successful careers and complete control of their finances. They make their own financial decisions. They are financially free. And, even though they’re both in serious relationships, they’ve each made the conscious choice to remain single. Think about the fact that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce, and that money-related arguments are the top predictor of that happening. What if you took money off the table in a relationship, thus avoiding those arguments? By remaining unmarried — even if you’re in a long-term relationship — you essentially do just that.
That said, being single does come with a few financial penalties, and it’s important to be aware of them. Most commonly, singles pay higher taxes, and have lower tax deductions, higher expenses, and lower portfolio values. But, all of that pales in comparison to the one thing many unmarried women have, and that women across the nation are desperate for, which is financial independence. You see, as my girlfriends shared with me during that happy hour, at the end of the day, their fiscal security is in their own hands. Your definition of financial freedom may be quite different from mine, and from my girlfriends’, and that’s OK. But, regardless of that definition, by taking responsibility for your own money, you remain in control of your future.
In my practice, my partners and I spend lots of time getting professional women the resources they need to be as successful in their careers as they can be. We believe that professional success will dictate a woman’s financial success and allow her to be independent. We’re big believers that we women control our own destinies, and my girlfriends who I met with recently are living proof that single women can not only be financial secure, but also can thrive as a result of that freedom. They view significant others as complements to themselves, not monetary saviors. They are happy, they are good mothers, and they are financially free.
Bridget Grimes is a wealth advisor at HoyleCohen and a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.