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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 September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal 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. 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 to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

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

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal 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’s for. It could be anything, including your child’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 that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals 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 beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as 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.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

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

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a 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.

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

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-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.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, 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 spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

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

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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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 manage all the expenses from the rest.

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

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

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. 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 counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

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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5. 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.

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

6. Maintain a Journal

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

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.

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

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s 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.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

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[2].

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 compared to equity instruments.

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3. 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.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

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

    4. 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 and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    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

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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