Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

So, this post is all about money, finances, and budgeting. Why the title? Well, that's the history teacher coming out in me - we're currently studying the Great Depression in 3 out of my 4 classes. :) But onto the wedding budget...

Almost 2 years ago now, Dan & I both participated in a finance class at my church. At the time, Dan & I were separated (no, we’re not a perfect couple, and yes, we’ve had our share of rough patches), but we were still friendly enough that I had invited him to come to my college & career group for a few weeks to participate in the class. I knew that Dan was just as interested in how to budget and save money as I was.
The course we took was called Financial Peace University, which was created by Dave Ramsey. The course we took was aimed a little more at high school students rather than college students, but it was still definitely insightful, and I would recommend it to anyone and everyone! Because of that course, Dan & I are both on the same page when it comes to finances – something that we both believe couples should talk about before they take the plunge into marriage. At the time we got engaged, Dan and I both had debt. Dan had student loans & a car payment. I had a car payment and a single credit card that I owed a small balance on. Also, at that point, I was living on my own while Dan was still living at home with his parents (which is still the current living arrangements). So we both agreed that we were going to do our best to pay for everything for the wedding up front – no loans, no credit cards, no debt. The last thing we needed to do was start off our life together even further in the hole.
We also knew that the likelihood of either of our parents contributing much money was out of the question. Both of our parents had recently dealt with unemployment and struggling to pay bills. The last thing we wanted to be was an additional financial burden on them. So, it was going to be 100% us. If our parents offered, then that would be more than welcomed. But we’re both of the mentality to plan for the worse and hope for the best.
Between the two of us, we feel as though we can save enough to have the wedding that we want without really having to sacrifice much. We decided that our big-ticket items would be the venue,  photography, & honeymoon. Everything else we felt as though we could find cheaper alternatives: shopping at thrift stores & yard sales, borrowing items from friends & coworkers who had recently gotten married, or DIYing what we could. Realistically, we both know that our overall costs may come out to be more than we anticipated, and we also know that they could come out way less. Even though we have a number in mind, we are still trying to aim lower than that and cut back on whatever we can. I'll try and share as much of our wedding planning process as we go along and divulge all the details of how we saved and where we splurged.
Some people think it's unrealistic for us to not use credit cards. Some people think that we need to go ahead and get them so that we can start building our credit. And other people think it's great that we are so adament about getting out of the debt we're in and staying out of it. At this point in our lives, we're happy with our financial plans. We'd much rather work hard, save up for something, and appreciate it more rather than buying it on credit and paying even more for it in the long run with interest. It might not work for everyone, but it works for us. We promise to share the budget breakdown after the wedding when we've finished crunching the numbers.
Did any of you pay for your wedding up front? Or did you chose to go the credit card route? Maybe you are blessed with generous friends & family? Any advice you'd like to share?

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