[Read: The Cost of Getting Married.]
For singles looking to combat financial stress, financial experts and singles themselves suggest the following:
Build your support network. In addition to socking away money in her 401(k) and taking out long-term care and disability insurance, Wells says, "I'm making sure I'm surrounded by friends and family who care about me, so when someone needs to take care of me, I'll have people to choose from," she says.
Take savvy steps that apply to singles and couples alike. Saving as much as possible, cutting out frivolous expenses, and planning for retirement early—all of these steps are useful regardless of relationship status.
Get a head start on retirement. MetLife notes that single people are highly concerned about retirement but are less likely to have purchased retirement-related financial products than couples. The company urges singles to save for retirement early, even if it's in small increments. Timmermann adds that women in particular should focus on retirement savings as soon as possible, since women live longer than men.
Take advantage of employee benefits. While some policies might benefit couples more than singles, as Campbell found, others are equally useful to all eligible employees: 401(k) accounts for retirement savings, for example, and disability insurance. "So many people don't realize that if they don't put the maximum into their 401(k), they won't get the full employer match," says Timmermann.
Fight for your rights. "Why should singles adapt their behavior to a system that discriminates against them?" asks Campbell. Instead, she says, "We should be fighting against the institutionalization of the married-is-better-than-single trope." She suggests challenging gym policies that offer cheaper policies to couples, for example.
Take care of dependents. For single parents, arranging wills, trusts, and guardianships for children is especially important. This might not directly help the parent's financial security, but it will have a big impact on children in the unlikely event of the parent's unexpected death.
But take care of yourself first. Timmermann points out that single parents are often taking care of their own children, including adult ones, while simultaneously caring for their parents. "Your temptation is to help them and help your grandchildren, but that could be detrimental to yourself," she says.
In other words, singles might have to work a little harder to look out for their own financial security.