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5 Tips For Having A Low Cost But Still Magical Wedding

5 Tips For Having A Low Cost But Still Magical Wedding

Your wedding is likely to be one of the most memorable days of your life. The moment you and your partner tie the knot is going to feel magical no matter what your wedding looks like, but most people would prefer their magical moment to happen in a beautiful place, in a well-planned ceremony, and witnessed by family and friends.

Unfortunately, sometimes the cost of that magic can be astronomical. Wedding costs have soared in recent years, and the average price tag for a wedding is now over $30,000. That gorgeous, elaborate dream wedding you’ve planned all your life may be a little extravagantly priced for your budget, but there are a number of ways to budget your own wedding without sacrificing that magic.

1. Keep your guest list short and sweet

Roughly 50 percent of your costs will go to the reception, and the vast majority of that cost will be in the form of food and alcohol for your guests, as well as tables, seating, table tags, any wedding favors and venues large enough to accommodate everyone. Needless to say, the size of the guest list determines the cost of your wedding. There’s simply no way to get around the fact that the more you invite, the more costs you will incur.

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The best way to keep a wedding affordable is to keep the guest list as trim as you’re willing to keep it. Rather than a 250-person event, strive for a smaller wedding of 100 or less. This will allow you to look at smaller locations, and might even afford you the option of using someone’s spacious backyard or home as a venue, which can save on venue costs and slash your expenses even further.

2. Thrift and borrow decorations

Renting linens for a night can cost several hundred dollars. Borrowing linens from your parents costs nothing. Buying linens used can cost less than $50 for a full set if your local thrift shop has them around.

Using thrifted table decorations, DIY centerpieces and curtains your friend still has left over from her birthday bash will cut down on renting and shopping for these extra costs. Borrowing things like speakers and browsing Craigslist for wedding decorations can also turn up decently priced surprises to chip away at the expenses on your budget list. Everything adds up, which means anything you can knock off the total price counts.

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3. Find an unusual wedding locale

A city park may have little to no fees to rent the space for your wedding, and may give you the beautiful manicured landscape and outdoor ceremony you’ve always wanted. Canadian company, Wonderstruck Events Vancouver, suggests a small guest list will give you more options on budget venues.

For example, a local art museum that you know looks stunning in the right light can be persuaded to close for a night for a cheaper cost than a traditional venue, and without the associated difficulties like minimum head counts, expectation of tips and bloated costs that come with the wedding industry. Look for out-of-the-way places to hold your wedding.

4. Ask for labor among family and friends

If you have a friend trying to start his DJ career, ask him to DJ as his wedding gift to you. If you have a cousin with a camera and an eye for style, ask if she will be your wedding photographer for the day for a nominal payment (or as her gift, as well!). Does your mom have a skill in the kitchen? See if she’ll help feed your wedding party for the reception.

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Ask your brother who works in a bar to make mixed drinks for guests, ask your other cousin who’s in Orchestra if he and a few friends could record a piece for your wedding. Even a wedding planner can be outsourced to a family member or friend eager to help out in exchange for not having to spend cash on a gift.

5. Plan according to the season

Everyone knows June and July are the most expensive months to get married. The cheapest months to get married tend to fall in the winter and fall, including January, March, April and November. These cooler months tend to come with even cooler nights; one quick way to save on costs and avoid a chilly affair is to plan a mid-day wedding, which is often in less demand and therefore cheaper to book.

In addition, using foods and flowers that are in-season and locally grown can save boatloads in costs. Flowers alone can wrack up hundreds, up to thousands of dollars, especially for a wedding that uses out of season or exotic plants, or supplies flowers for the entire bridal party.

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Using food that’s in season and locally grown, whether it’s catered or home-made, will also keep costs from racking up. For example, the cost of strawberries in a strawberry dessert could be $4 or $5 a pound in the summer, but in the cooler winter months when it’s in season you can find locally grown-strawberries in many regions for $2 or less per pound.

Your wedding doesn’t have to be dull on a budget. You can have a glamorous dream wedding that leaves you breathless without leaving your wallet empty afterwards. Enjoy your wedding planning!

Featured photo credit: lindsey child via flickr.com

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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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