Loving your singleness in midlifeJul 13, 2022
Many women find themselves in a single season in midlife through divorce, bereavement, or other circumstances. Many are happy to stay single but still want to travel, go out to dinner, and live without financial stress. There are a number of practical ways to make this happen:
Create a financial plan.
Talk to your financial advisor about ways to maximize your lifestyle in midlife as a single person. Make sure you are taking advantage of tax deductions that often increase at age 65. See if there are any tax credits for which you are eligible and have your accountant walk you the timing of withdrawals and rollovers so you aren’t penalized. There are a number of instruments such as reverse mortgages that can help you monetize the equity in your home with rates equal to traditional mortgages. Annuities can benefit single people since payouts are higher when there is no transferability to a spouse. Look into long term care insurance if you are retiring early (the premiums are lower when you are younger) so you can plan for care when you are older. Preparation is the key to financial ease.
Have a healthcare plan.
One of the biggest stressors for people living on their own is what happens if you get sick. One of the benefits of COVID is there is more telehealth and pharmacies that deliver but it’s still good to have a couple of friends on call to help you out if you need to be driven home from the hospital. If you are recovering from major surgery and don’t want to burden friends, you can hire a nurse or even check yourself into a recovery space for a few weeks to get care. Some hotels are set up for people recovering from childbirth or plastic surgery and can be used for other medical issues. If you do your research and have a plan in place, you can face a medical event with much less stress.
While many midlife singles enjoy living alone, the cost of housing can drive others to find creative solutions. Often, friends will live together (think: the real life Golden Girls.) In this case, I always recommend creating a cohabitation agreement as one would with a romantic partner to set out the ground rules. Other people choose to live on their own in a smaller place. You really need to find housing that suits 80% of your lifestyle. For occasions where you need a larger place such as holidays hosting extended family, you can rent a house or book out space at a resort.
The key to living well as a single retiree is to focus on expenses where you pay per person - concert & theatre tickets, flights, clothes, fine dining, etc. - and minimize expenses where there is a discount for buying in bulk. For food, step away from the warehouse stores and focus on beautiful meals for one. There are amazing services that deliver fresh prepared foods that, while prohibitively expensive for a large family, can be economical for the solo diner. It’s like having your own chef and there is no waste. Explore if you need a car since driving solo can be expensive. Can you use public transit or rent a car when you need one? Shop around for insurance policies for your home, car, and health that don’t penalize the single person. If you want to buy things in bulk, see if you can split a warehouse membership with a friend and shop together.
Making new friends.
If most of your friends are in couples during midlife, you may wish to expand your circle. Thankfully, there are other singles out there looking to make new friends. There are film clubs, language clubs, dining clubs, ski clubs, travel clubs and so many other clubs to meet your interests, many of which can be discovered online. The dog park and workout classes are natural spots to chat with other people. Some people will be there to date but many are simply looking for like-minded friends. Often people find that friendships forged in later life over common interests run deeper than friends of convenience we make through work or children’s schools when we are younger. Just make sure to meet in a public place and don’t share too much about yourself until you get a sense of the group.
Be the host or hostess with the mostest.
Your home can serve as a haven of calm and quiet or a hub of activity, either of which may be much welcomed. Let your friends know that you have an open door policy and plan a social once per month. Classic films offered a number of examples of fabulous singles of a certain age. Buy a pair of silk pajamas in which you can entertain, stock your bar cart, and have some snacks at the ready. Embrace your fabulousness in midlife.
Find solo-friendly travel.
There are few things more freeing than solo travel, but it can take some getting used to. If you feel uncomfortable heading out into the world on your own, you can always join a tour group. If you find one that does not charge a single supplement, you are more likely to find other singles on the trip. Tours and cruises often have singles dine together, which can introduce you to some new people. If you don’t feel like venturing out, you can always eat at your hotel or order room service.
Living single in midlife can be a truly wonderful experience as you get to live on your own terms. By taking some time to plan how you want to live, you’ll maximize the benefits and eliminate potential stress.