Is it more expensive to be single?
Last weekend I did a weekly shop for one, expecting the bill to be much cheaper than my usual two-man shop. In fact, it was hardly cheaper at all. It left me wondering whether it’s more expensive to buy for one?
I’m not an impulsive shopper, so when I popped in to Tesco, I had a week’s worth of meals planned and a shopping list prepared.
The first thing on my list was spinach – I only needed 100g but I could only buy a 400g bag. Next was asparagus and again, I was forced to buy a much larger packet than I needed. I found a similar theme throughout my shop – I was often forced to buy much larger packs of food than I wanted or could use.
The downside of bulk-buying
After my shop was over, I found it difficult to swallow the extra expense of buying smaller packets of food compared to the relative economy of buying larger packs. On top of that, I felt the majority of special offers I encountered didn’t apply to me, as it usually meant bulk-buying more fresh produce than I could possibly use before it went out of date.
On a practical level, ’BOGOFs’ for a single person who travels home by bus or by foot can also present a logistical nightmare. Once you’ve stuffed 24 loo-rolls in your backpack and six litres of fizzy drink, your muscles start to strain and there won’t be room for much else.
In fact, when we asked you what you thought about Asda dropping multibuys, 70% of you voted that other supermarkets should follow by simply discounting individual items.
My colleague Patrick Steen argues that my case is flawed as most vegetables can be bought loose and, with a little careful meal planning, you can simply use up excess food in the following days. He also says that most food can be frozen either before or after cooking.
The cost of being single
But when I thought about it harder, I considered some other costs that many singletons might consider a ‘penalty’.
For example, we’ve all seen the ‘single supplement’ on holiday packages that effectively charges solo-travellers for the privilege of having a room to themselves. Another example is council tax for single people, which is only 25% cheaper than for two occupants or more.
So single living can certainly be expensive. Have you experienced higher costs linked to your single status? Do your shopping bills soar when you’re buying for one? Or do you agree with Patrick that a little savvy-shopping can save on your expenses?
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