You may be hearing fewer wedding bells these days. Fewer adults than ever are married, according to a Pew Research Center study that indicates that close to half of the population consists of swinging bachelors and bachelorettes.
If you're in your 20s or older and single, you may feel more "reluctant" than "swinging" about this news. After all, the study also found that, of the unmarried people, 61 percent would like to be married someday.
But whether you're happily single or still looking forward to the altar, you can make smart moves now to secure your future -- no matter what it holds for your relationships.
Different financial gurus advise different amounts of emergency savings. Dave Ramsey recommends a relatively sparse three to six months of expenses, while Suze Orman suggests an ample eight months. No matter which strategy you follow, having a good amount of liquid savings makes sense for everyone.
If you're young and single, you may have parents or other family to fall back on in case of a job loss or other expensive crisis -- but do you want to? A well-funded savings account will help keep you independent and give you options when life throws you the unexpected.
Figure out how much you'll need for emergencies and start building toward that number. Then look at online banks with high interest rates to stash your cash.
When you're young and single, retirement can seem like a low priority. However, the retirement money you invest now, early in your career, will have greater power later on because you gave it so long to grow. You'll also get into the habit of saving for retirement, leaving you many more options later in life.
How much do you need to retire? The answer is different for everyone. It can depend on your standard of living, whether you're still paying off a house, your life expectancy and many other factors. Spend some time evaluating guidelines and using calculators to find out how much you'll need to retire.
The old saying "Two can live as cheaply as one" is never more true when it comes to housing. If you're unmarried and also live alone, paying the full cost of rent is doubly burdensome.
But purchasing a house is also expensive and comes with its own issues. Younger single folks may be reluctant to buy a home -- or plan for home buying -- until they meet the right person. To some, the home should follow the marriage.
But no matter what age you are now, think about your dreams for the future: Do they include a house with a garden (or dog run) or a condo that looks over the river? If buying on your own is a slim possibility with your current savings, consider beginning to save toward that goal. Purchasing a home with at least a 20 percent down payment ensures you'll get better interest rates and won't have to pay private mortgage insurance.
Big moves and other life changes
Here's the flip side of home buying: opportunity for sudden change! What if you get a great job offer -- or just the chance to move with a friend -- in a city where you've always wanted to live?
A family of four given the same choice has a lot of work to do to make a big change happen, but a singleton can maneuver like a sports car. Having extra money in hand to follow your dreams keeps those possibilities open, and lets you follow them with confidence.
One of the benefits of being unattached? The freedom to indulge, without negotiation, in things you enjoy, whether it's travel, eating out with friends, or buying the occasional treat (a new game console or boutique purse, for example).
Being single isn't an excuse to charge those things to your credit card without the ability to repay, however. If you know the next iPhone model is in your future, or you plan to take one wonderful vacation per year, set up targeted savings accounts so you can pay for those splurges with cash when the time comes.
Making smart money moves is a great way to keep your options open and stay happy -- regardless of whether you ever tie the knot.