Young woman doing her finances with a calculator
Personal Finance

Designed for two? How singles can reach financial goals

Yes, life’s big milestones are easier to afford with a second income. But with planning and expert advice, single Canadians can still get ahead, expert says.

Young woman doing her finances with a calculatorPlanning like you’re always going to be single will help you to keep your finances in order, says expert. (Shutterstock/Rawpixel)

Are you enjoying the flexibility of single life, but not the difficulty of single-income finances? Although much of the personal finance advice you find online is geared towards families—think family vacation spending, budgeting for daycare and saving for college—single adults also have their own unique set of financial hurdles.

“The challenge that a single person has to worry about is that 100 per cent of their income is coming from a single source,” says Jason Heath, a certified financial planner and managing director at Objective Financial Partners Inc. “That’s a lot riskier than having a two-income family that might be able to weather a storm better financially as a result.”

Here are three strategies to help singles reach their financial goals:


Some of the big milestones in life, including buying a home, having children or even retiring, can be more challenging as a single person.

“When you break down the numbers, some of these things seem designed for two salaries,” says Carla Riley. The 34-year-old only recently began to focus on her single finances after running a business for the past four years. For Riley, thinking about saving for a house led to some difficult decisions, including wrapping up her business and moving from Toronto back to her hometown of Kitchener, Ont.

“The market is designed for two salaries working towards the same goal,” she says. “Couples can reach financial goals far quicker than a single person. So you have to be saving much more aggressively.”

Heath agrees, emphasizing the importance of looking ahead: “One of the things I see people do sometimes is stick their heads in the sand and not really take the time…to plan ahead and make good decisions.”


Planning like you’re always going to be single will help you to keep your finances in order, Heath says.

“Some people expect that at some point in the future they may get into a relationship—or another relationship,” he says. “I would plan to be single, and if you’re in a relationship again at some point in the future, then make the best decisions you can at that time.”

There are also some advantages, Heath points out, when you don’t have to consult with anybody else when spending money or making investment decisions. 

This is a benefit, agrees Riley, as focusing on your own situation—whether you’re paying off debt or saving for a big purchase—means no one else can set you back on your financial goals.

“I wouldn’t be in a relationship right now with someone who could harm my financial situation,” she says. “It’s a factor for me when dating.”


“A lot of people are used to making financial decisions, business decisions and retirement decisions with the input of a spouse who’s there and knows them,” Heath says. For singles, making these decisions can be more difficult—they might need a good sounding board, he says, whether that be an adviser, friends or family members. 

Riley agrees, which is why she doesn’t hesitate to reach out to her network for advice. 

“At my age, there are so many people in different financial circumstances who I find relatable and have practical advice who I would go to,” she explains. “Even if it’s just their personal experience [with] buying a house or navigating their personal finances.”


Just how much money do you need to feel comfortable? The amount might surprise you. While a new CPA Canada poll shows Canadians have even less money to play with this summer.