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The Thrifty Bride’s Guide to Wedding Planning

The Thrifty Bride’s Guide to Wedding Planning

The big question has been popped, the engagement period has begun, and it is time to begin planning for one of the most exciting, scary, emotionally invigorating days of your life. Even for those who don’t place much value in the traditional wedding and choose to go another route, the act of marriage is a heartfelt one of acceptance, admiration, and commitment to one individual in a world of billions. The wedding is about sharing the joy of finding that one person that makes you happy beyond measure. Some want to joyfully include as many people as possible while others invite only those closest to them. Whether you want a wedding that will rival Queen Elizabeth’s with the dress to match or something a little more low key, these tips will be extremely useful for creating an atmosphere all your own at a fraction of the price you would otherwise pay.

Rings

When revealing your engagement to the world, one of the first things people ask is if they can see the ring. There is a huge cultural fascination and emphasis on the ring and its reflection of the love your partner has for you. What is interesting is that the emphasis on how large the diamond is has gradually lessened and people are choosing more affordable, artistic, and personalized routes when buying engagement rings. Another exciting development is that men are opting to wear engagement rings more and more. With these things in mind, here are some tips to help find just the right ring for both parties.

Upgrade Programs

This is a great idea, perfect for the young couple who will be growing their lives together both in finances and in taste. How this works is that you buy rings that are within budget and that suit you at this point in your life, but with the upgrade program you can come back to the jewelry store at any point and if you want to upgrade to something larger or simply different you will receive credit equal to 100% of the original price toward the purchase of a new ring.

Consignment

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This is a great way to cut the cost of some beautiful engagement rings. Consignment stores have both bling and modesty and are the same exact diamonds, stones, and bands fouand in any jewelry store except with a smaller price tag. Preowned does not mean less valuable. Another plus is that many of them have online stores which gives you the opportunity to peruse what’s available before deciding if consignment is for you without ever having to leave home.

Alternative Stones

The fascination with the diamond has had its day. As beautiful as diamonds are, they lack the personality that a lot of couples are looking for and the price tag doesn’t help their case. Many couples are considering other precious or semi-precious stones in an array of different settings that suit their partner’s taste in style, color, and price.

The Dress

Such a big one! Many of us dream about our wedding dress from the time we are old enough to play dress up and others could be happy wearing sweats as long as in the end they are married to the person of their dreams. Here are some great ideas to consider that will make everyone happy and save some extra money for the honeymoon!

Clever Girl

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Companies know that they can price wedding dresses at the prices they do and people will pay them. That same dress in another color would be sold for much less. One way to get around the wedding dress price tag is to order a bridesmaid dress in white. The price of wedding dresses and bridesmaid’s dresses differ drastically in price and no one will be the wiser.

Rent

A lot of women want to keep their dress after the wedding as a souvenir or to be able to hand down to future children. If this is not your thing, renting is a great option. You can get the dress of your dreams and give it back after your big day saving yourself potentially thousands.

Preowned

Preowned gowns are another alternative to buying a new gown at full price and if keeping the gown is something that is important to you, you can! The only person who will know that it is preowned is you and if it is the one, by all means make that happen and do it without spending three months salary or putting it on credit. Remember these can be altered as well. See a gown you love but want some extra length, a longer tail, or need it taken in a bit? These things can all be done and the dress can still be under budget.

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The Cake (and Food)

Depending on if you foresee your wedding being the social event of the year or if it will be a handful of family and friends, here are some clever and rather fun ideas for getting exactly what you want while continuing to make smart, thrifty decisions financially.

Fake It Till You Make It

Another one of the things that have become a staple of the wedding ceremony has been an extravagant wedding cake. There is a company that realized that having the extravagant cake is not always cost effective for the bride and groom. They help you fake the cake. Instead of paying out of pocket for a massive cake, half of which will most likely go to waste, you rent a beautiful display cake for the reception, and the caterers serve much less expensive sheet cake from the kitchen. Clever and cost effective.

Potluck Wedding

For a smaller wedding with just close friends and family, a potluck wedding dinner is a great idea. Not only does it cut the cost of a caterer but it makes everyone feel included. Make sure you or one of your bridesmaids have delegated dishes so that you don’t end up with all desserts or a few of the same dish.

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The Venue

When it comes to choosing a venue the prices range substantially depending on many different factors. Choosing a venue that is not typically a traditional wedding venue is one big way to cut costs. Getting married in the “off” season also contributes to lower prices. Other ways to curb costs are to stock your own bar and stick with beer and wine. Just don’t get married where you have to bring in everything- chairs, tables, etc. The cost and stress of having to supply those things are not worth it. Lastly and probably most importantly, if getting wedding gifts isn’t that important to you, asking those invited to contribute to the cost of the wedding is a great way to go. There are several sites online that make this easy for people to do. The bride and groom sign up, set up the account, and share the link that allows people to contribute electronically making it easy on everyone.

Flowers/Music/Photos

With the flowers, the music, and the wedding photography, going local is the best way to get quality work without paying the big business or wedding planner prices. The small local florist is not going to charge what the large wedding company will, the talented driven local photographer isn’t going to charge what the established wedding photographer will, and the young local DJ isn’t going to charge what the self-proclaimed wedding DJ that was referred will. Definitely do your homework and check portfolios but there are many talented people who are capable of doing the job at a much lower price. Another way to look for the photographer and DJ is through local music schools and universities. With the flowers and floral arrangements you would be surprised what you can get online, delivered right to your door. Shopping online for your wedding flowers is another affordable choice.

Plan Plan Plan

When setting your budget, focus on your priorities and work from there. Planning your own wedding can be quite stressful but often the most rewarding. Being able to make sure things are as you envisioned- or close enough- is exciting. It is also quite a task and can become stressful. Set things in motion and let your bridesmaids and those around you know what you need. When people offer to help, let them.

I think what it comes down to when looking to make this day as memorable as possible for everyone involved (without going into debt) is creating an event that is completely original to you and your partner. Think outside of the box and start your journey together savvy and saving for your future.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

More Tips on Getting out of Debt

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

Reference

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