More than 17 million Canadians are single as of the 2016 census—an all-time high. So, how can single lawyers put themselves first? We asked Karen Sill, Manager of Financial Planning at Lawyers Financial, and Jackie Porter, Lawyers Financial advisor and co-author of Single by Choice or Chance.

Single people often underestimate their need for a financial plan – especially if they don't have children. With no spouse and no dependents, it can be easy to focus on the now at the expense of the future. And it can be even easier to put off planning altogether. 

"Most people procrastinate," says Lawyers Financial advisor Jackie Porter. "The big risk for singles is putting off financial planning for way too long." 

Being single makes financial planning less complicated, but with no one to fall back on, it also dials up the urgency. That's why Porter and co-author Jill O'Donnell wrote Single by Choice or Chance. "We set out to empower single Canadians to plan for a future that puts their goals front and centre."

THREE WAYS A PLAN CAN HELP YOU 

1. STRETCH YOUR MONEY 

Singles pay the full freight on rent, utilities, property taxes, vacations, and all the other things most couples split in two. That puts an extra burden on every dollar. "Singles need their money to work as hard as they do," says Karen Sill, Manager of Financial Planning at Lawyers Financial. "When you rely on one income for everything, those dollars need to stretch. That's where a plan comes in." 

2. PUT TIME ON YOUR SIDE

Single people also pay the full cost of living in retirement. They need to save more – a lot more – than people who are planning to retire on two incomes. 

"The easiest way to save more for retirement is to start early and let compound interest work its magic," says Sill. "When you start early, you don't have to contribute as much of your own money to end up in the same financial place as someone who starts later." 

3. PROTECT YOUR INCOME

Because singles rely on only one income, protecting that income should be their top priority. Disability insurance and critical illness insurance are the most common ways to keep the money flowing. "These are called living benefits because you get to enjoy all the benefits while you're alive," says Porter. "Many firms offer this kind of coverage as part of a group benefits package but there are good reasons for having your own policies. These are the kinds of discussions all single professionals should be having with their advisors." 

TEAM UP WITH AN ADVISOR 

As a single professional with a demanding career, it can be tough to make time for yourself. That's why it pays to work with an advisor who'll set up meetings, review your plan and hold you to it. As Porter says, "Single people need a confidante with a fresh and objective lens on the world, someone who's always there to listen, advise, and see the big picture." 

WE CAN HELP

If you're single by choice or chance, make a list of your financial goals and ask how we can help you achieve them. 

Lawyers Financial is a not-for-profit that sponsors insurance and investments at breakeven prices and offers free financial planning to every member of Canada's legal community. Book a free 30-minute consultation now.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.