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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 January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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