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Prioritizing your marriage over your wedding is a beautiful place to grow from. While the wedding day itself is dreamt of, saved for, and planned out, it can be magical without being financially detrimental. You’ll find you carry over some of the same conversations you had while planning your wedding while having conversations about preparing for marriage. What you two talk about in regard to how to save money for the big day will probably lead you to some great ideas you take with you after the wedding season.

It wouldn’t surprise me if you talked about:

  • Cutting down on how often you eat and drink out
  • Combining subscriptions like Netflix, Spotify or Apple Music
  • Buying some used things instead of buying all new things
  • Setting saving goals
  • Packing your lunch
  • Paying off debt
  • Asking friends and family if they have something you need

Research from the Gottman Institute shows that one of the biggest reasons couples fight is because of money. You can avoid this by getting on the same page and goal-setting together! When the two of you have a conversation about how you spend your money separately and how you can save together, you’ll find that while working as a team, you’re strengthening your relationship. You’ll inevitably align your priorities and practice making important decisions together. It’s a win-win. So let’s get down to business: You want to save money for your wedding, so here are some great ways to do so with a little advice from NerdWallet and my own wedding experience!

Money-Saving Tips for Planning Your Wedding:

  • If you’re expecting to be engaged soon, start saving. If you know the two of you are planning to get married, start saving as soon as possible! My husband and I looked at our monthly income and cost of living and found room where we could save. Some months we saved $500 each, some $300. You have to figure out what works best for you. The best part about starting a few months prior to being engaged is that we could pay for things as we made decisions and we knew we had stability from the get-go.
  • Consider having an intimate wedding! COVID-19 has made guests joining in over Zoom or Facebook Live sexy. All of the money you’ll save on food, beverages, a DJ, venue, extra hours from photographers, the rehearsal dinner with extended family, bridesmaids and groomsmen can go straight into investing in your own marriage! Maybe you can save money based on what you were willing to pay for a bigger wedding and put it away as an emergency or fun fund!
  • Skip the Saturday wedding. Planning your wedding for a Sunday or weekday can save you thousands! (I know from experience—my husband and I saved $1.5k by having a Sunday wedding.)
  • Think outside the box for a venue. Vacation home, if you know someone with property, government-owned historical sites, restaurants, State Parks (so, so cheap), etc.
  • Use the venue’s resources. Using a venue that offers chairs and tables is a huge plus! Ask what’s included.
  • Design and send your own invites. Go paperless for the younger friends! Canva has tons of free designs. The two best pro-tips I can give is to only send formal invites to those you know wouldn’t be as tech-savvy and email the rest. If you do decide to print, here is part 2: use Staples to print. Don’t upload your design as an invitation, but as a postcard! It cost us maybe $48 for 250 “Save the Dates” and postage costs less for postcards as well! We did the same things with our invitations but put them in an envelope and used the back as a place for more information. (P.S. The average cost for stationery/postage items like those listed is over $400… I just told you a way to do both for about $100). My wedding planner book told me to budget $800?!?
  • Buy Wholesale Flowers. You can put arrangements together yourself and save $150 alone on what people charge for making bridal bouquets!
  • Check the sale rack and wedding dress samples first! Your dress won’t be any less beautiful if you get a great deal.
  • Borrow anything you can! Everything from accessories, centerpieces from friends or family members who have gotten married, decorations… anything!
  • Cut down on a store-bought cake. Trust me, you don’t need as much cake as you think. Get a nice personal cake to cut into for you and your spouse and ask some friends and family to make the rest. This worked out beautifully for us.
  • Limit Plus-Ones. If someone isn’t seriously dating, they don’t need one! On the flip side, just because someone is dating, doesn’t mean you need to invite the significant other—especially if you aren’t close to them! If someone is coming from out of town, offering a plus-one to travel with is thoughtful.

Be up front with each other while planning your wedding and figure out what your priorities are. Remember, your wedding day is the beginning, but your marriage is the rest of the story. One of the best reasons to save money on your wedding is so you can invest directly into your marriage! Enjoy this season, but anticipate the sweetness that follows. Being married is just the best!! (I’m biased, but I’d like to think I’m also honest.)

Image from Pexels.com

Do you ever wonder at the end of the month where in the world your hard-earned money went? It’s like money is falling out of a hole in your wallet!

Consider this: if you buy a cup of coffee for $1.96, one chicken biscuit for $1.99, and a $3 magazine, you’ve spent almost $10 at the drop of a hat.

“Little expenses really add up,” says Laura Coleman, personal financial educator with LFE Institute. “Most people don’t think about where their money is going. They make money and spend it, but they don’t have a system for managing it.”

Coleman worked with one couple living paycheck to paycheck. With five children and a sixth on the way, the couple’s goal was to live on one paycheck so she could be a stay-at-home mom. When Coleman started working with them, they had basically decided they had to have a second income.

“Money was causing a lot of conflicts and they had no idea what was happening with their finances,” Coleman shares. “They moved to a smaller home, lowering their monthly payment and got rid of a vehicle, but still needed two incomes. I worked with them to open communication and develop an overall strategy to find extra money and plug leaks. Within a short amount of time, we found $1,600. They were shocked.”

Coleman contends that two of the biggest issues for couples concerning money are different spending styles and lack of open communication. When people don’t have control over their money and have no idea where it is going, they buy things they can’t afford, use their credit cards as part of their income, and there’s never anything left to save for the future.

“I have been helping people with their finances for many years, starting out as a mortgage originator,” Coleman says. “Our clients were buried in debt and struggling to pay their bills. What they needed was education and the skills to manage the money they had, not another loan. I wanted to provide solutions, not create more problems.”

As a financial coach, Coleman helps people develop a plan for managing their money. One of the first steps is to understand that spending is often a choice and as consumers we only have one chance to spend that dollar. LFE’s “$1,000 Card” helps people ask the right questions to make smart choices and save money.

  • Did I plan to buy this?

  • If I have to pay cash do I still want it?

  • What will happen if I don’t buy this?

  • Do I need this or just want it?

The next step is to discuss financial goals.

“When people tell me they want to be financially successful I ask them to define success,” Coleman says. “One person might consider success being able to pay down their mortgage while their spouse defines success as having money in the bank. We work together to establish goals the whole family can get excited about.”

But there’s more! Once couples have common goals, Coleman teaches them strategies to stretch their paychecks, reduce debt, avoid financial traps and ease family conflicts over money. “Financial freedom comes from taking control of your finances,” Coleman asserts.

The media often talks about the economy, and they usually say it will probably get worse before it gets better.

“Families are getting hit hard on the basics like gas and food,” says Debbie Brown, vice president of investments with Raymond James & Associates.

“Studies indicated that close to 43% of American families spend more than they earn each year. People have been so focused on buying what they want regardless of the terms. Now, they are forced to rethink how they spend money.”

An analysis of Federal Reserve statistics in early 2015 revealed that the average U.S. household owes $7,281 on credit cards. Average indebted households carry $15, 609 in credit card debt.

“When people make decisions about spending they often operate out of emotion instead of thinking through the decision,” Brown says. “I know people who purchase items based on what their next paycheck will be versus what they have in the bank. In this economy nothing is certain. I encourage families to take a hard look at their spending, to set priorities and a budget and to live within their means. With energy and food costs going up, this can truly be challenging.”

Brown says these ideas can help families stretch their dollars as far as possible:

  • Establish a family budget. Use this as an opportunity to teach your children about the cost of living. Involve them in the process so they understand what it costs for electricity, water, cable, eating out, clothing, insurance, etc. Ask them to contribute ideas for ways family members can help conserve like turning off lights when leaving a room, carpooling or riding the bus.

  • Take your lunch. Instead of buying lunch at school and work, take your lunch. The Browns figured they could save at least $50 a week ($2,600 a year) by not eating out.
  • Be intentional about running errands. Think about where you need to go and whether or not you will be in the area for some other reason during the week.
  • Examine your cable options. You may be able to significantly reduce your fee by agreeing to fewer channels.
  • Buy your specialty coffee at the grocery store. Instead of spending $3.50 on a daily cup of coffee, get specialty coffee from the grocery store and brew it yourself for about 17 cents per cup.
  • Go through the drive through to cash a check. Paying ATM transaction fees can add up to some serious cash.
  • Don’t buy on impulse. Many times we see things we think we need, but the truth is we can live without it.

“So many people think of budgeting as a negative,” Brown says. “I think this is a great opportunity for parents to challenge their kids to see how far they can help make the family income go each month. Most young people have no idea how much it costs to fill up the gas tank or buy groceries, much less heat or cool a home.”

Who handles the money in your home? What kind of debt load do you carry? How often do you argue about spending money?

The 2009 State of Our Unions: Marriage in America research conducted by the National Marriage Project and the Institute for American Values, focused on money and marriage, including the influence that debt, assets, spending patterns and materialism have on marriage.

The findings indicate a strong correlation between consumer debt and marital satisfaction.

The study found that money matters are some of the most important problems in contemporary married life. Compared to other issues, financial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples and generate more negative conflict tactics, such as yelling or hitting, especially among husbands.

Contributing researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Dew, professor of family studies at Utah State University, found that credit card debt and financial conflict are corrosive to marriages. Couples who report disagreeing about finances once a week are 30 percent more likely to divorce than couples who disagree about it a few times a month. Dew also found that couples with no assets were 70 percent more likely to divorce than couples with $10,000 in assets.

Interestingly, perceptions of how well one’s spouse handles money plays a role in shaping the quality and stability of family life in the United States. And, people who feel that their spouse does not handle money well report lower levels of marital happiness.

Materialist spouses are also more likely to suffer from marital problems. Materialistic individuals report more financial problems in their marriage and more marital conflict, whether they are rich, poor or middle-class. For these husbands and wives, it would seem that they never have enough money.

Maybe you’ve never given much thought to how you spend your money. Perhaps it never even occurred to you that what you are or are not doing with your money directly impacts the state of your marriage.

It’s never too late to make changes. Here are some suggestions from financial experts:

  • Start with a conversation about your financial goals. If this is not something you can do by yourselves, consider attending a class on managing your finances.
  • Put all of your financial documents in a central location and go through them as a couple.
  • Track your spending. In order to make appropriate changes, you need to know where your money is going.
  • Start an emergency fund. Even putting a small amount in each month can be a safety net when you need extra cash.
  • Make a budget and commit to living within your means.

One of the secrets to marital bliss is making sure that you control the money together instead of letting money control you. There seems to be something powerful, even sexy, about working with your mate to control your finances.

Check out crown.org, daveramsey.com or MagnifyMoney.com for information on establishing a budget. You’ll also find information for reducing debt, eliminating unnecessary fees and saving for the future.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***