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10 Ways to Keep Your Wedding Expenses Manageable

10 Ways to Keep Your Wedding Expenses Manageable

The average wedding costs $31,213. This can be burdensome even if your parents are helping you, but many savvy older or LGBT couples end up paying for everything without any assistance. With this in mind, it is important to look for ways to reduce your expenses without giving up on your dream wedding. Fortunately, utilizing even just one or two of the following tips can make your wedding much more budget friendly.

1. Cut Back on Your Guest List

There is often a lot of pressure to invite a large list of people, including some friends of the family who you might not even know. Instead of giving into this pressure, sit down and make a list of the friends and family who truly mean a lot to you. Keep in mind that the typical cost of catering for each person is approximately $68, and this does not include extras such as party favors. In other words, if you invite 100 people, you can expect to spend $6,800 on food alone. However, if you can cut your guest list to 50 people, your catering expenses will be slashed in half.

2. Get Married on a Sunday or at a Rural Venue

Many venues offer discounted pricing if you choose a Sunday or weekday for your ceremony and reception. It is also common to get a better price from a rural location that is far off the beaten path. A prime example of both of these price-saving methods is showcased by a popular Michigan rural barn venue that charges up to $2,800 on Saturdays but offers a reduced Sunday rate of no more than $2,100. Discounts of this nature are common throughout the wedding venue industry, but they are never guaranteed. Make sure that you carefully review pricing options before you get your heart set on a specific venue.

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3. Carefully Shop for a Low Rate Personal Loan

No one wants to start their marriage with a mountain of debt, and this is another solid reason to minimize your wedding expenses. However, if you need some financial assistance to take care of everything, it is wise to take the time to carefully shop for the best possible loan option. An online personal loan rate comparison tool can help you save time while still acquiring the lowest APR for your credit level.

4. Skip the Designer Wear

Many people feel compelled to wear a dress or tuxedo that was created by a well-known designer, but the reality is that this is not the best place to spend a large percentage of your wedding budget. After all, the odds are high that the clothing you choose will never be worn again, and there is a huge variety of budget-friendly wedding outfits that come with a much smaller price tag. As long as you look and feel great in your dress or tux, the label that no one else will even see really shouldn’t matter.

5. Go Trendy on a Budget

If you assume that being in line with the latest wedding trends will cost too much money, then you may want to reassess what is actually trendy right now. In fact, pizza buffets for dinner have never been more popular, and many couples are opting for donuts instead of a traditional cake. These options could be even more beneficial if you simply cannot cut your guest list down. Feeding everyone pizza, salad, and breadsticks from a local or chain establishment can easily cut your per person catering costs from an average of $68 all the way down to less than $5 each.

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6. Pick One Must-Have and Structure Your Budget Cuts Accordingly

Most couples have one must-have component for their wedding. This might be a pricey venue that you both fell in love with or the best possible wedding photographer you can afford. Either way, narrowing your must-haves down to one major item will make it easier to cut expenses in other categories. Keep in mind that photos are one of the few things that will actually last forever, so this is a commonly chosen top must-have.

7. Take a DIY Approach to Decorations

Wedding décor can be very expensive, but thanks to Pinterest, it is now easier than ever to take a DIY approach. One crafty couple was able to have a wedding with 150 people for only $18,335 even though they didn’t cut corners with their catering, photography, or wedding dress. Instead, they made their own decorations, which kept the décor budget to a mere $600.

If you choose to go the DIY route, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. First, take the time to research your DIY options to ensure that the price of the supplies isn’t more than buying something similar that is premade. Secondly, you may be able to find really low prices on popular items such as mason jars by checking wedding message boards and Craigslist.

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8. Use an Alternative Registry to Pay for Your Honeymoon

Do you already have everything you need in your home? If so, there is no reason to have a traditional wedding shower or to register for household items. Instead, you can turn to an alternative registry such as Honeyfund or Honeymoon Wishes. These sites make it possible for you to list specific experiences you would like to have on your honeymoon. Your guests can then select an experience and make an online payment or give you a check that covers the applicable costs. In other words, you will be receiving cash instead of gifts, but your guests will get to feel like they have actually purchased you something.

9. Allow Family and Friends to Offer Their Services in Lieu of a Gift

Do you have talented friends or family members who can make DIY crafts? Perhaps you know someone who is a registered officiant or a DJ? Enabling these people to offer their services in lieu of a gift is a great way to bring your wedding expenses down. However, keep in mind what a comparable wedding professional would charge for the service in question, and make sure that you give a tip or a small gift as a thank you.

10. Keep Your Wedding Party Small

Your wedding party can be as big or as small as you want it to be, which means that you do not need to stick with the average of five bridesmaids and groomsmen. Cutting your wedding party down to two or four people who will be standing up with you will not only make planning and photos easier, but it will also reduce your related expenses. Even though your wedding party is most likely paying for their own outfits and any travel costs, you still need to give each of them a gift for their participation. It will also typically take longer to do photos with a large wedding party, which could require you to pay for more time with your photographer.

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Now that you have some helpful tips for reducing the cost of your wedding, it is time to ensure that your personality is allowed to shine through. For example, if you and your soon-to-be spouse love Star Wars or cosplay, there are many ways to geek out on your big day. You should also consider creating a wedding map for your guests if everything is not happening at the same location.

Featured photo credit: barrdaydon via pixabay.com

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Holly Chavez

Writer, Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

2. Keep Them Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

4. Short Term vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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5. To Each to His Own

The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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6. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

7. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

8. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

It is here where that classification will help.

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So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding,

Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

11. Measure, Measure, Measure

All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

The Bottom Line

This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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