Marriage allows economy of scale. Clearly, if you are two people, you can share a home. You can share appliances. You can share a vehicle. Heck, if you’re homosexual (or open-minded, LOL) and roughly the same size, you could even share your clothing. In fact, you can share almost everything. With more people in the house, there is even more sharing possible. For instance, this park shares the laundry facilities at roughly 25 people per washing machine. In almost every case I can think of, more people is always more efficient as long as the tragedy of the commons is avoided.

Why is it then, that I keep hearing that frugality is most cost-efficient if you are single? Is it not simple a question of finding a mate, who shares your values?

I usually hear this lament from guys suggesting that it is impossible to find/date a girl if one is not a profligate spender. I realize that the US (most of my readers are from the US) are not as progressive as say Europe, when it comes to equality of income or more accurately, expectations of income, but are we really still in a state where the women are looking for men who will mainly provide a high level of consumption? Or have the perception that men have of women not caught up with reality yet?

This of course contrasts with the anecdotal observation that most frugality blogs are actually written by women. So what gives?

Social structures have essentially evolved to the “sides”, that is, towards the very big, from cities to nations, and towards the very small, from tribes to families and more and more to individuals. This of course means increased sales if everybody needs to have their own stuff. Two singles are all else being equal, that is, the value they get for money, worse off than a couple. A tribe would be superior to a family. Unfortunately, the tribal structure is dead except for a few places like say the Amish. Consequentially modern people lack the social understanding to live within such a structure and thus attempts at forming it usually fail. In that regard, it is tragicomic that we call ourselves civilized when in fact we are exactly the opposite.

On the other side of the coin we have people who say that financial independence is only possible because of economy of scale. Always focusing on the negative people are. I wish these two groups would get together and slug it out. In my opinion, the second group is more correct than the first. However, you don’t need to be married to set up an economy. Before getting married, I lived in two different setups, specifically a private dorm where kitchen, laundry, and bathroom facilities were shared and a sublet (is that a word?) house where laundry facilities were shared. Being single, you are able to take advantage of all inefficiencies without having to compromise with others which can expand your choices significantly. For instance, if I was single, I would no longer be paying for the car—I’m currently paying half because I sometimes do get use out of it—or presumably the dog (I’m totally gonna lose custody except maybe a few pets and scratches behind the ear) but my rent would go up unless of course I find a cheaper place like the ones I’ve lived in before.

Originally posted 2010-02-11 00:08:31.