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‘Two can live as cheaply as one,’ or so I’ve heard it said, time and time again over the years. The truth, however, is a little bit more nuanced. When I first moved in with my boyfriend of five-and-a-bit years, we found that there were a few more complications to this assumption than we had originally thought. For one, a tax break that single people get is the ‘single person’s’ deduction on council tax. Another aspect was the obvious – having to pay more for electricity and food than if there was only one of us in our home – although there was less waste.
It’s sometimes a gripe with some single people that married couples get a ‘tax break’ – in fact, this is largely a misguided assumption. The only tax break married couples actually receive is, under some circumstances, a married person might be able to transfer some of their savings to a spouse ‘tax free’. This is something that it would be literally impossible for a single person to have this benefit. So, should married people get real tax breaks?
Here are some advantages married people have over their single counterparts:
Couples are better for the economy
Having two incomes and shared costs means a higher conversion to disposable income, which often translates into more spending than single people. There’s also more opportunity to be a consumer – date nights, anniversary gifts, days out – all this translates into more money being put into the economy.
Couples tend to be healthier than single people
As social animals, long-term companionship is better for our psychological health, according to numerous studies, including this one which can be found in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. However, this, like many things in life (and human behaviour in general), does come with its fair share of nuances. With this in mind, hypothetically, married people should (in general) cost the health service less.
While not every married person or long-term unmarried couple wants children, as biological creatures, most of us are going to want to procreate at some point. Bringing another person into this world is costly, and good for the economy (even if it sucks for the planet). To a certain point, children are something that most governments want to happen in order to balance out an ageing population. It then makes sense to incentivise it by offering tax credits to people with children.
Although having kids is still expensive, and some people might actually be happier not bothering at all.
It seems that, whatever your circumstance, people tend to be prone to see the worst side of their own – “the grass is always greener”, as the adage goes, never ceases to be true. Marry someone for love and not financial benefit, that will all come later.
Maddy is a freelance illustrator who lives in Glasgow. She's recently graduated and is working hard to make ends meet. Self-employed? Read Maddy's experiences here.