Year One: Cash Gifts Spend or Save?

Brides Behind the Scenes, Budget, Relationships
1-cash-gifts-450.jpg Photo: CN Digital Studio

Once the reception's over, it's time to deposit those "Mr. and Mrs." checks. (Score!) Not sure what to do with the dough? Here's advice for three typical couples—find the one that's most like you.

COUPLE A—Credit-card debt and/or wedding bills and no savings
"Pay off most of your debt first," says Today show financial editor Jean Chatzky ( Put 65 percent of your newly-married moola toward bills. Then stash 25 percent in an "emergency fund" savings account. Due to the tight job market, "you need six to nine months of living expenses socked away in case one of you gets laid off," she says. The remaining 10 percent can be a splurge.

COUPLE B—No debt, but also no emergency fund
That crisis account should get 90 percent. (Think of the EF as your new BFF.) Enjoy the other 10 percent, but not on the first shiny toy you see. "The expenditures that make us happiest tend to be experiences, not things," says Chatzky. Take a class together—rock-climbing, French cooking, or something else fun and sexy.

COUPLE C—No debt and an ample emergency fund
These savers (you go, couple C!) can spend 10 percent freely, then put the rest into big-picture investments. "Contribute to an IRA, or save for a car or a house," says Chatzky. Not sure what item you want most? Bank the money "for at least six months. You need time to process the fact that you have extra cash."

—Jacqui Gifford, Travel Editor, BRIDES Magazine

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