Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I'm So Glad We Stayed Out of Debt While Wedding Planning

Money is a little tight right now for Matt and me. Nothing serious--just a lot of expenses are piling up.
  1. We decided to refinance our mortgage. We brought our interest rate down from 6.375% to 4.75%. It will take us about two years to recoup our closing costs, but after that, we'll save $188 a month, which adds up to $2,256 a year. It seems worth it in the long run (although it sucks to fork over thousands of dollars for closing costs!).
  2. We are finally getting a fence put in. Our poor bloodhound has to be tethered to a long cord every time he's in the backyard. The cord is usually stretched between his two legs, which makes him waddle. I think he's starting to get a complex. We're having a company put in an iron frame, and then we are going to attempt to attach wooden slats (like the fence above). We'll see how it goes.
  3. Matt needs to get a new car soon. His car has over 100,000 miles, so we're getting to the point where it doesn't make much sense to keep putting money into repairs. He wants to get a Honda Insight, and there's no way we can fork over $23,000 in cash, so we'll have to take out a loan. Our plan will be to repay it as quickly as possible to avoid paying a lot of money in interest. I hate interest.
  4. We just spent approximately $1,500 to repair the aforementioned car.
  5. We need to get a new rug for the living room. Hoss had diarrhea on my old Swedish one from IKEA. Sorry for being so graphic. We're going to get a flor rug, so we can take out one panel at a time and wash it in the sink. Very dog-friendly.
  6. We want to get a used leather couch, so we can simply wipe off Hoss's dog hair and bloodhound slobber. We're looking for a used one on craiglist, but it will still be a hefty chunk of change.
  7. We want chickens! And the coop I want is really expensive. I know it would be more budget- and eco-friendly to make our own from used wood, but I'm really compelled by the concept of "easy clean" surfaces. I think our first forray into raising barnyard animals should be as simple as possible.
  8. Oh, how could I forget our big annual trip abroad? Oy vey! That trip will be about $6,000.
  9. And I need new running shoes. I've been wearing mine for a year and one month. Aack!
Phew. Thanks for letting me vent! I feel a little bit better getting it out of my head and onto paper.

Long story, short: I am so, so glad we didn't go into debt while trying to plan our wedding. Debt is the worst because you end up paying more money for things you've already purchased. Yuck.

How are you doing (or how did you do) with staying out of date to have a wedding?

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Sarah said...

We'll be having a small wedding because we're looking for a new house (and between a down payment and closing costs-- that pretty much works out to an average wedding!). My fiance and I talked about this, and we'd rather have a house than a fancee party; that's essentially what it came down to-- house or wedding.

There are certain things I can go into debt on-- education, house, a car if I have to, but a wedding? I can't justify it. I just can't.

Now, we are still having a PARTAY, but just on the cheap. And buying stuff on clearance and used over an entire year.

M. Eileen said...

Chickens are great and so worth it in the long run. I grew up with 6-12 chickens in a neighborhood and it is great! They can really produce a lot of eggs (more than a family of four could possibly go through) and we ended up selling dozens to our neighbors and friends! Good luck!

The Websters said...

We stayed within the budget my parents gave us. Actually, I was able to buy my husband's ring with the leftover money from the $3,000 check my dad cut me when we got engaged =)

Sharpiegirl said...

I've got 289,500+ miles and I have spent about that much this past year on mine.
She's good for a while longer but only because she doesn't do the long roadtrips anymore.

Caroline said...

Good luck! An easy way of keeping in budget is using wedzilla.com and actually posting your budget that way vendors know how much you are willing to spend and they actually come to you. This makes the process a lot easier! I know you guys are busy! Let me know if you like it!

Katy said...

In regards to the couch, look for a consignment furniture store. I found a great couch with a pull-out bed in it for $100. The couch itself was in great condition just not the "perfect color", so we fixed it with a slip cover.

If you are on facebook, I would check out the Marketplace section for your area. Since colleges are letting out many students are selling their furniture.

Kelsey said...

Yes, debt for a wedding makes NO sense. Starting off your life together in debt for a wedding does not seem to be on the right foot. (We do have education debt and car debt though, and hopefully soon a mortgage!) We are currently planning a low-key affair. So far we're able to save money using university facilities for our wedding (fiance is a prof), we'll have minimal flowers for eco- and cost-friendliness and I'm not going to buy a dress that costs more than $200.

I love that you guys want chickens, us too someday! My parents live in Austin and keep hens, they recently went on the Funky Chicken Coop Tour in Austin and got ideas for updating their coop so be sure to keep that in mind for next year!

Meg said...

See wedding planning is stressful right now, but that made me feel better :) No debt, and we start our marrage with a year of emergancy expenses in the bank. That has a lot to do with waiting and waiting till we felt financially secure to get engaged.

Michele said...

Amen sista-friend!

I stupidly got myself into some debt in my younger days and it's been long gone for a while, and will (hopefully) stay that way.

I was determined to avoid wedding related debt and decided to do 2 things: first, set a budget that is rather modest by wedding standards ($8k), and b, set up a savings plan that would enable us to pay cash for everything.

Then, midway through the planning process, we decided to slash our budget by over half (to $3500). By then, we already had more than enough to cover that completely.

HOWEVER, so far (with the wedding less than a month away), we havent actually tapped into our wedding fund for anything. We've simply used our expendable income for wedding related purchases, employing sort of a pay as we go method.

That means when all is said and done, hopefully our entire wedding fund will still be in tact and we can just call it savings!

Becca said...

Yes and yes. We're on a two year savings plan for the wedding, and I started saving up about a year before that (once I realized this was my partner). It's just part of our monthly savings plan at ING (car, emergency fund, vacation, taxes, wedding, etc.) $200 per month for a few years feels about right and makes the wedding less of a burden and more matter of fact. It also puts wedding plans overall in perspective (a fancy dress feels less important if I have to raise that monthly ING deposit to $250 or $300)

It's not so much the interest that drives me nuts with debt but the obligation and lack of flexibility that comes with it. Especially with a more precarious economy, I don't want to rely on hopeful future income streams to pay off current expenditures.

zoliepup said...

170,000 miles on my Toyota and still going strong!

Have you tried free cycling for a couch? We got a great (and fancy) art deco era chair for our living room for FREE on Craigslist. You have to be picky, and dedicated, but you can find some really good stuff!

Autumn said...

We waited a little longer than we wanted (close to a year) so we could save up and not go into debt. The best thing we did: We looked at our monthly income/ outflow and figured out what we could realistically save in that time, and made our budget fit that number, instead of making a budget and then trying to reach that number. Since we couldn't have it all, that forced us to prioritize things we cared about, which was a very good thing. We paid for everything in cash, and even received some discounts because we were able to pay early or in cash.

We ended up under budget (thanks to a lot fewer guests coming than we originally anticipated), with a nice surplus in the wedding fund. That's now our "emergency savings fund" that we can pull from for home repairs or other unexpected expenses. A much better situation to begin our marriage than digging out of debt from a party!

Anonymous said...

I am so looking forward to a friend of mine's wedding - a stack of us volunteered to do things we don't do professionally but love doing (art, flowers, decorations etc). Her fiance made her engagement ring out of stainless steel, her sisters are doing henna tattoos and the reception is bring-a-plate (potluck?). It's going to be a big family/church-family day and I think it will be lovely and fun and special - and shouldn't put them in debt!

Princess Christy said...

Wow.... my last car had over 300,000 miles on it. Granted, my dad does a LOT of our mechanic work, but still. I bought myself a brand-spankin' new car with a WARRANTY last year, and will have it paid off this time next year (do the math, it will be just under two years!). Good for you for wanting to pay it off quick!

As for wedding budgeting.... everything is being paid for out of pocket. Granted, a lot is paid for on a credit card to gain rewards points, but EVERYONE who is paying for ANYTHING is paying it off monthly.

Jen said...

Just saw Oprah (I'm in Australia so it's probably an older episode). She had a financial adviser on telling couples whether they can afford home renovations or college or a wedding. She estimated that the couple planning the wedding would need 20-50 thousand dollars to fund their 'do' for 150 guests. As they had a lot of debt she rejected their plans and said the only thing left for them was to elope.

Someone in the audience tried to make the case for holding a budget wedding. But she was shouted down by the guest and even by Oprah. It was really sad that alternative and cheaper weddings weren't even considered as a realistic option, and their dreams were dashed.

My husband and I had a relatively cheap wedding. My aunt bequeathed me her 1950's vintage wedding gown, I only had to pay to have it altered. We made the invites and decorations from reclaimed old filing folders and pretty paper. We camped next to the surfclub where we held the reception and had a great time surfing and swimming with all the guests over the weekend. We rode our pushbikes to the ceremony - no need for car hire. Family and friends made the cakes and other friends took care of the music.

We did spend a lot on food and drinks but it was a conscious choice with help from our parents and we had 120 people! So it can be done and it may take a bit more time, thought and diy creativity but the feeling of achievement and love and support can't be bought - not even with 20 000 bucks!

megan said...

we have a "working budget"- a price we're willing to spend and don't want to go too far over. most of that money is being provided by my fiance's wonderful parents, but all of the other stuff is already accounted for (my sis is paying for the rehearsal dinner, i'm buying centerpirce stuff, the bride's party will help make flower arrangements, and i'm not even thinking of shopping for a dress until i have the money saved.

i think a huge part of planning a wedding is money management and prioritizing. it's a lot easier to do a pay-as-you go method on vendors, and save up for the dress and gratutities, etc. everyone says it is so stressful, but i'm not feeling it. i have a OCD plan working, and it's actually, well, working. :)

oh, and the FH is working extra for more moolah. it is a win-win because the more he works, the faster he gets promoted, and the more money we save.

Sharpiegirl said...

Have you thought about making a coop like these?

Kristy said...

I would loooove to have chickens. Unfortunately my city has by-laws against them. We have a 5K budget and so far we're doing pretty good. We're having an evening wedding at the church and we've rented the church hall for a cocktail reception and dance afterward. I got my dress at the Bride's Project (a shop in Toronto that sells donated dresses - proceeds go to children with cancer)for $280 ($1500 Retail!)Thanks for all your tips. They have really come in handy!

Molly said...

girl! you MUST get new running shoes...you'll hurt yourself, if not!

sorry, avid runner here, i couldn't stop myself from commenting on that one!

Shatkicky said...

We picked a number and stuck with it! We're in college and we know that we can't afford to have an expensive wedding. We're in the budget planning phase and getting quotes from vendors, so when we find something that's not in our budget, we remind ourselves that we could use that money to pay an X amount of tuition.

Anonymous said...

We are getting married in 2.5 weeks and it looks we'll land on budget. We are trying not to spend over $6000. My dad gave us some money and we've saved the rest. We might owe a couple hundred dollars when all is send and done, but it's not an overwhelming amount so we're ok with that. Basically, I figured out what we really wanted- like the caterer and photographer- and then figured out how to make everything else work within the budget. One thing I'm excited about is that we are heading to a local flower farm the day before the wedding and putting our bouquets together there. We'll also bring home a bucket of flowers to put in mason jar vases and our homemade wheatgrass centerpieces. Local, in season, and more affordable than wholesale flowers!

Anonymous said...

I made my chicken coop out of a bathroom cabinet that I got at Habitat for Humanity's ReStore. The coop and the run totaled $110. I have two hens and buy scratch twice a year for about $16. I get more than enough eggs for two people from my girls.

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Sophie said...

I had the same reflexion about a month ago. The money I would have used to pay for a "traditional" wedding was from selling a duplex I used to own. But who says selling rental property says capital gain, so I owed a good chunk of it to the taxman. Had I caved in to the wishes of my husband (and of his mother) to have it the traditional way, I would have certainly emptied my bank account, and thus spent money that didn't belong to me but to the government. Yes there are things I wish I had done differently (choosing my dress more carefully, getting real flowers instead of silk daisies from my craft box), but overall I'm glad we eloped.

Jacqueline said...

I love your blog. I also had a budget wedding, did it for under $5,000. To check out my budget see http://www.chicweddingsecrets.com/

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