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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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Published on May 7, 2019

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

How to Invest for Retirement (The Smart and Stress-Free Way)

When it comes to stocks, I bet you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing.

Everyone who’s not a financial expert has been there. I’ve been there. But, time is passing and you need to be crystal clear with how you’re investing for your retirement.

Otherwise, it’s back to work until you can afford not to. So, how can you invest for retirement when you’re not a financial expert?

You take the time to learn the fundamentals well. If you do, you can grow your wealth and retire happy. The best part is that you don’t need to be a financial expert to make smart investment decisions.

Here’s how to invest for retirement the smart and stress-free way:

1. Know Clearly Why You Invest

Odds are you already know why should invest for retirement.

But, maybe you know the wrong reasons. It’s time you get clear on why you’d like to retire. Here are some questions to help you get started:

  • Will you spend more time with your family?
  • What does retirement mean to you?
  • Are you looking to launch that business you’ve been holding off for years?

Everyone wants to retire but not for the same reasons. Once you’re clear for why retirement is important for you, you’ll focus on making it happen.

Investing in the stock market allows you to take advantage of compound interest.[1] All this means is that your money earns money on top of its interest. A reason why investment in the stock market is one of the best ways to plan for retirement.

2. Figure out When to Invest

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”– Chinese Proverb

It’s true if you’d had started investing when you were 10 years old, you’d have a lot more money than you do today.

The reality is that most people don’t start investing until it’s too late. So, if you’re currently waiting for the perfect time to start an investment, it would be today. Open your calendar and block out 2 to 3 hours to choose how you’ll invest for retirement.

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A quick way to get a snapshot of where you stand is to use Personal Capital. Input all your personal information and spend some time setting your retirement goals. Once completed, you’ll know where you stand with your retirement.

Having a savings account for retirement isn’t planning for retirement. Why? Your money loses value when you factor in US inflation.[2]

3. Evaluate Your Risk Tolerance to Create the Perfect Portfolio

Investing your money well depends on your emotions.

Why?

Because when the market drops most people panic and withdraw their money. On average, the US stock market yields an annual 6% to 7% ROI (return on your investment.) But, this won’t happen if you’re worried about short-term loses.

Before you invest your next dollar, know your risk tolerance.[3] Your risk tolerance determines the number of risky and safe investments you’d have.

Regardless of your investing style, you need to view investing for retirement as a long term game. Know that some years you’ll lose money but recoup this in the long-term.

Avoid watching market-related new. Also, create a double authentication to log in your investment account. This way you’re less likely to withdraw your money.

4. Open a Reliable Retirement Account

Depending on your circumstance, you may need to open a new brokerage account. This is the account is where you’ll invest your money.

If you’re currently working for a company, odds are that they offer a 410K investing account. If so, here’s where you’ll invest most of your money. The only problem with this is that you’re limited to the stock options that are available.

You do have the option to open a separate IRA (individual retirement account.) Here are some of the best brokers:

  1. Vanguard
  2. TD Ameritrade
  3. Charles Schwab

5. Challenge Yourself to Invest Consistently

Committing to invest for retirement is hard, but continuing to do so is harder.

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Once you’ve started investment for your retirement, you run at risk from stopping. Often you’ll want to contribute less, so you’d have more money in your pocket.

That’s why it’s important that you create a budget that allows you to invest each month. If you’re working for a company, you can set a percentage for the amount you’d like to contribute each month. Most people by default contribute 1% but aim to contribute 10% to 15%.

Be the judge for how much you can afford to contribute after covering important expenses. To stay motivated, use Personal Capital to view your net worth.

A benefit to contributing money to your retirement account is not taxed. For example, if you earn $100 and invest 10%, you’d contribute $10, then get taxed on the remaining $90. As of 2019, the most you’re able to contribute towards your 401K is 19K but this can change.

6. Consider Where to Invest Your Money

The most common way to invest your money is in stocks, but it’s not the only way. Here are other ways to invest:

Robo Advisors

Robo-advisors[4] are fancy algorithms that’ll choose the best investments for you. Sites like Wealthfront make it easy for first-time investors to invest their money. You’d input information about yourself and set your risk tolerance.

Then, set your monthly contribution amount and your robo-advisor would do the rest. Robo-advisors charge a fee to manage your money, but less than regular advisors.

Bonds

Think of bonds as “IOUs” to whomever you buy them from.

Essentially, you’re lending money and charging interest. Like stocks, not all bonds are equal. Some will be riskier than others depending on their rating.

Here are the different types of bond categories:[5]

  1. Treasury bonds
  2. Government bonds
  3. Corporate bonds
  4. Foreign bonds
  5. Mortgage-backed bonds
  6. Municipal bonds

Mutual Funds

Picture a group of people dumping all their money in a jar that’s managed by a professional. This is how mutual funds work. The fund manager manages the money looking to earn capital gains (interest.)

One of the best types of mutual funds is index funds. Since these funds don’t try to beat the market and instead follow it, they need less research. Because of this they often charge the lowest fees and yield the best long-term results.

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Real Estate

Yes, buying a home is an investment when done correctly.

Imagine buying a home and using it as a rental property. After repairing it, you receive a monthly surplus check of $100 to $200.

This may not sound like a lot, but repeat this process enough times and you’d earn a large amount of passive income. That’s why real estate is one of the best investments to not only retire but become wealthy.

But, it requires a lot of money to start and you should expect losing money along the way as you learn the process.

Savings Accounts

Your money can still grow in a savings account. Nowadays most online banks offer a 2% annual return. Although the average inflation is higher your money will be available when you need it.

7. Master Disincline to Dodge Short Success

Investing for retirement is a long-term strategy. That’s why you need to master delayed gratification. All this means is delaying short-term pleasure for something bigger in the future. Research shows that those who have delayed gratification are more successful.[6]

So how can you master delayed gratification?

By building your discipline.

Think back to what retirement means to you. A clear purpose will help you avoid withdrawing your money during a market downturn. It’ll help you contribute more towards retirement when you’d want to waste it instead.

Your journey towards retirement will be long, so reward yourself along the way. Choose a reward that’s relevant and meaningful, so that you reinforce positive behavior. For example, after contributing more towards retirement, treat yourself to dinner.

8. Aggressively Invest on This One Investment

I’ve mentioned several types of investments but haven’t covered the most important one.

It sounds cliche but here’s why you’re your best investment towards retirement. The more you know, the more money you’ll be able to make. The more good habits you adopt, the more secure your retirement will be.

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More importantly, investing in yourself is an investment that no one can take away. There’s no market downturn nor tragic circumstance that’ll wipe your knowledge and experience.

But, how can you invest yourself?

Reading books, blogs, and anything that’ll help you learn new topics daily. Listen to podcasts and audiobooks on your commute to/from work.

Save money to buy courses and hire coaches. I used to believe hiring coaches was a waste of money when I could learn the subject alone.

But, coaches see your blind spots and hold you accountable. Hiring the right coach will help you achieve your goals faster than you would’ve alone.

Retire Happy with Excess Money

The key to a secure financial future doesn’t only belong to financial experts.

It’s possible for you and I. What if you were able to retire earlier than most people and weren’t a financial planner? What if you were able to focus on what you enjoy doing the most while your money was working hard for you?

I know this sounds impossible now, but the truth is you’re capable of taking charge of your retirement. I’m not a financial expert but I’ve learned how to invest my money by reading books and learning from others.

Investing your money is scary. So start small and invest a small amount of your money with a robo-advisor. Feel your money drop and rise for a month or two. Then, invest more and keep this up until you’re aggressively saving for retirement.

One day, you’ll wake up with a net worth you’re proud of – confident about your retirement. You now know a few strategies you can use to invest in your retirement. Will you take action to retire happy?

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Featured photo credit: Matthew Bennett via unsplash.com

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