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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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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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