There are lots of stereotypes about single people, but what about the one that says that women are cheaper than men — is it true?
I had an odd conversation the other day with a woman who is in the “singles business,” meaning single people are her target consumer. But unlike Singular magazine and SingularCity, she comes from what I call the traditional singles industry perspective. That means her attitude is that single people are single for one reason: there’s something wrong with them, something “off” that needs to be fixed (by her) so they can get un-single.
My view on single people is different. I believe that whether you’re single or not, dating or not, male or female, if there’s any fixing that needs to be done, it’s not linked to your relationship status. Some of the most unattractive, disagreeable people I know are happily coupled. Go to any Walmart in America and you’ll see oodles of them pushing their carts together down the aisles.
Meanwhile, some of the most charming, sophisticated and accomplished people I know are single. As far as I can tell, the main difference between those who are coupled and those who are not is that single people are more likely to buy into fixer-upper plans — thus the reason the traditional singles industry is booming and why this woman was contacting me. She was hoping I would give her access to you — but only the men, not the women. Why men? According to her, men spend money; women don’t.
Much as I didn’t want to agree, hearing her theory reminded me of when I waited tables in my early 20s. If a group of women came in for lunch, I’d dread it if they sat in my section. They’d ask for extra plates to split portions and then spend 30 minutes haggling over who owed what for the tab, down to that last penny — and then underpay the tip. A group of men couldn’t be bothered with such excruciating money management. If one didn’t pick up the whole check for the table, they’d toss in their share, usually more than their share, and leave a generous tip.
Yes, that’s just one anecdote. I know many women who are extraordinarily generous. And I’ve certainly known a lot of men who howl in pain when they have to part with even a single dollar. But hearing this woman talk about her marketing plan, I was reminded of how I’ve long noticed a pattern of women tending to be … well, let’s say frugal.
If this is true, where does it come from? When you compare overall earnings of men and women, men do make more money. But when you compare salaries between men and women who have the same job, the gender gap is much narrower than the 80 cents to every $1 that is often reported. And yes, we women have been indoctrinated since childhood with the idea that we need a man to support us. We know that statistically, we’ll live longer than men and need to save up for that extra 10 years of life when we’re least able to earn a living. And no doubt, when you’re single, whether a man or a woman, it can be daunting to pay all the bills by yourself.
But why do women, especially single women, have this tendency to live in such fear of financial insecurity? We go without the new smart phone (even though the screen on ours is cracked), without paying for a car wash (telling ourselves we really will wash it this weekend), without the beautiful sheets for the bed (reasoning we’re the only one who will see them), and without the salmon (instead ordering the half sandwich and cup of soup) — despite having a steady job, good income, manageable bills and ample retirement savings.
I don’t think or believe that all women are tight with their money, but every example in this article is something I’ve done myself or observed in others. Too many women, single or not, resist giving themselves the things they want or need — even when they can afford them because they’re afraid that somehow, some day, they won’t have enough.
It’s not about foolish or extravagant spending, it’s about opening ourselves to the idea that money works best when pictured as a flowing brook, not a stagnant pond. Money is more likely to flow into our lives when we don’t hold onto it with a tight fist. Allowing ourselves to have the things we can afford will improve the quality of our lives and result in a more abundant, well-lived singular life, while living in fear of financial insecurity will rob us of more than the cost of a few luxuries.
Copyright © Kim Calvert/2014 Singular Communications, LLC.