To budget or not to budget.. that is the question

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TripleDagger3 Posts : 6 Registered: 4/5/10
To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 10, 2010 9:58 PM

Hey Ladies, I need some advice.
So I'm getting married in a little less than a year. unfortunately my fiance and I are moving in 5 months, so I am trying to get some planning done now, because the move will take up a lot of time.

So heres my dilemma...
My Dad has given us the generous offer of either:
A) having our dream wedding
OR
B) having a small back yard wedding, and giving us around $20,000

Now, we could really use that $20,000 BUT, Its been my dream since I was a little girl to have a giant beautiful wedding. I have already bought my Vera Wang wedding gown, and I know it would make Vera sad to be worn in some little back yard wedding!!! Im so conflicted, I don't know what to do.I need advice!! which is more important? having your dream wedding, or having some financial security???
I should go ahead and add two things, #1 My fiance and I are not poverty stricken by any means, but we do pretty much live pay check to pay check.#2 My fiance and I have friends and family who will most likely be giving us money as a wedding present.

HELP!! :-)
Aimee

Edited by: TripleDagger3 on May 10, 2010 9:59 PM

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dodgercpkl Posts : 130 Registered: 9/27/09
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 10, 2010 11:13 PM Go to message in response to: TripleDagger3

I personally would (and am) go with the smaller wedding. My parents are giving us a chunk of money that we can use for wedding, honeymoon or whatever. We are using 1/3 of that money to have our wedding partly because I want it, partly because it's important for my mom to have me walk down the aisle in a beautiful wedding dress, but mostly because both sets of parents want to be there to see us get married and I think that's very important. We could use all the money they are giving us for the wedding, but we'd prefer to have some money to re-grow our savings, so we've chosen to cut what corners we can and keep it to a small budget wedding that nevertheless is ending up to be the wedding of my dreams! :D

Keep in mind a couple of things. It's one day and truely the most important part of it is the marriage and not the wedding. Money issues can often lead to marital troubles later, so think on what is most important. That said, it's your day, and you and your FH need to be the ones making the decision on what's most important for you! Good luck!


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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 10, 2010 11:39 PM Go to message in response to: TripleDagger3

Dear TD,

Let's see, you are offered $20k in cash, yet you asked in another thread about cash registries.

Hmmm....

Cut to the chase. Here is what I suggest.

Figure on $10k for the wedding, then put $10k, plus any cash gifts, in the bank.

You can have a nice wedding for $10k, wear your gown and have a great time.

Then, the other $10k becomes your emergency fund (six months income in the bank), future house downpayment fund, broken down car fund, etc.

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 11, 2010 8:36 AM Go to message in response to: TripleDagger3

If I lived paycheck to paycheck, I'd sacrifice pretty much anything to not live paycheck to paycheck anymore. I've been there, and it's stressful. I'd take the 20K and either invest it or use it to pay off debt.

What kind of a backyard wedding are you talking about? I've been to some very lovely and swanky backyard weddings - some of which have cost twice or three times that 20K you're talking about. Would you be using some of that 20K for the backyard wedding, or is the wedding in addition to a 20K gift? If so, have you discussed budget for the wedding? Say you choose to take the 20K and have a backyard wedding, which your dad will pay for. Then you get the 20K AND the wedding. That seems like a no-brainer to me.

Another easy compromise is to spend 10K on the wedding and pocket the other 10K. You don't need 20K to have a nice wedding, especially in some areas of the country. And in other places, 20K won't get you that dream wedding you're talking about. We spent nearly that on ours and you'd be amazed at how many corners we had to cut to make our wedding happen for 18K. Yes, that's a lot of money, but when food is 100-120pp, it doesn't go as far as you'd think it would.

The bottom line: nobody can answer this for you. I would do a little research and look at both options. What kind of a wedding could you actually have in your area for 20K? Take everything into consideration when you make this budget. Then plan out the backyard wedding as you envision it. Are you really saving much money by doing it that way? Say you end up spending 15K out of your 20K on the backyard wedding - would that be worth it to you to pocket the additional 5K?

Like I said, if I were living paycheck to paycheck, I'd take the 20K. Even if I wasn't being offered a backyard wedding, I'd take the 20K. If I was not living paycheck to paycheck, it would be a different story. Like I said, we spent nearly that on ours - but we're financially stable. Given our finances and job stability, we reasoned that we can always make more money, but we only had one chance to get married, so we spent a lot of money on the wedding. I don't regret it - but it didn't cause financial hardship for us. If money was tight normally, I never would have spent the money on the wedding. So based on what you've said about yourself, my advice is to take the money. Or at least pocket some of it and spend the rest on the wedding.

DaisypathWedding Ticker

Vice President and Guardian of the Toilet Brush of POOP: People Offended by Offended People

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 11, 2010 10:18 AM Go to message in response to: TripleDagger3

I faced a similar dilemna. I had about 20K saved, and I had to decide whether to spend it towards a wedding, or to keep it for something else. Ultimately, I spent about 12K of that towards the wedding, and kept about 8k of it for myself. Ultimately, I needed that 8K in my bank account to feel secure; I wanted an emergency fund.

If I were you, I'd look into what I could realistically do in a backyard vs. with 20K, and see what I would feel comfortable in. Then you have to ask yourself what you're willing to sacrifice in order to do it. I don't think there's a wrong answer here.

But you should know that even if you have 20K, you'll have to budget. Very few people can afford their "dream" wedding because very few people have weddings where money is no object. So know that you'll make sacrifices no matter what.

Good luck!


__________________________________________

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

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christinagsu Posts : 50 Registered: 11/18/08
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 11, 2010 6:40 PM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

Have you researched every aspect of what YOUR "Dream Wedding" would be? To me, if your dream wedding comes out to like $40 or $50K and you only have $20 then you are falling short of your dream wedding and should not waste that much on the wedding when you could put it toward other things. However, if $20K in your area DOES get you your dream wedding, then go for it. I don't think to just spend $20K on something and it not be what you really want is a good idea, but if it is truly what you want then I say it's a $20 well spent. You will always have those wonderful memories and never wonder what could have been or what it would have been like. Money can always be made or gotten, memories like that can not. You mentioned about living paycheck to paycheck...and people on here have commented on that statement, that you should be financially stable...but if you are the type to not keep money in the bank then what is that $20K going to do for you? I really think that depends on you and your personality. I don't think I understand what people are saying by "financially stable". If you can afford the things you want, does the fact that you do so "paycheck to paycheck" mean you are not financially stable? My personality would lead me to taking the $20K doing something with it and still leaving me paycheck to paycheck. Everybody's definition of "financially stable" is sure to be different.

You also have to think about the things that are most important to you in life. If a dream wedding is more important than (for example) a house or a long, exotic honeymoon, then that is what you should focus on. A lot of people would rather spend that money on a down payment on a house, but if a house is not YOUR focus, then why would you do that?

On the other side of my first commnent...the opposite may hold true and a Dream Wedding in your area may end up being $10K and then you still have $10 left over even though you had that dream wedding.

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 11, 2010 7:01 PM Go to message in response to: christinagsu

Dear Christina:

" I don't think I understand what people are saying by "financially stable". "

I can tell you exactly what "financially" stable is for a couple in their twenties.

1. Emergency fund of six months income in the bank, to be used in the event of a job loss or other unexpected emergency.

2. Putting 10% of gross income into savings. The couple should be at least funding a 401(k) with company matching funds up to the company limit. There's no sense in turning down free money if the company is matching 401(k) contributions. Additional savings should be earmarked for a house, a child's college education, etc., after the emergency fund goal is met.

3. Managable investment debt. What do I mean by investment debt? Debt that will pay you more money in the long run. Student loans, home mortgage, car loan for a car needed to get to work are examples of investment debt.

4. Little or no consumer debt. You know what I'm talking about - credit card debt, payday loans, etc. If you are carrying any, repeat, any balance month-to-month on a credit card, then you are in evil consumer debt. The only exception I make is when the debt was incurred to pay for emergency medical care.

5. Regular charitible contributions. The ideal is 10%, but few people in their twenties can come close to that ideal. What I like to see is a young person pick a charity that means something to them, then make regular contributions, in terms of time and money, as they are able. Even if it's only $5/week, it's important to get in the habit of supporting good charities.


A couple living paycheck-to-paycheck likely has no emergency fund, no retirement 401(k) plan, no charitible contributions, but most likely unmanageable investment and consumer debt.

I have been there, when I was in my twenties. I know. Believe me, I know it's really tough. I was broke all the time when I was in grad school. We buckled down, watched our expenses, avoided credit card debt like the plague, and got in the habit of living on about 80% of our paychecks. We saved the money for a house down payment, stuck with a budget and started IRAs. It's not easy.

And, guess what. >>I got married in my parents' backyard<< I have GREAT memories of my wedding.

But, look at me now, 30+ years later. I have plenty of money. I can do what I want, work as much or as little as I like, go places, buy nice things for my children when I want to do that. I am involved in our local homeless shelter, which has been a facinating experience. I really like to travel, and go to Europe once or twice a year just for fun. I am reaping the benefits, now, of having worked hard at financial security when I was younger.

A couple who is, now, living paycheck-to-paycheck and who is offered $20k towards a wedding is well advised to use half that for the wedding, and bank the other half. If the couple is earning $20k a year, that $10k in the bank IS NOW THEIR FULLY FUNDED EMERGENCY MONEY.

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CheetahAngel Posts : 2,017 Registered: 11/29/08
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 12, 2010 8:11 AM Go to message in response to: TripleDagger3

"I don't know what to do. I need advice!! which is more important? having your dream wedding, or having some financial security???"

Financial security is 100 times more important than having a dream wedding! If your dad is giving you $20,000 I would take the money and run! I was also thinking however what Aunt said: take half of it for yourself and then the other half for the wedding. You can have a nice decent wedding for $10,000.


 

                           
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CapeTownBride Posts : 37 Registered: 4/16/10
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 12, 2010 8:48 AM Go to message in response to: CheetahAngel

$20 000 is a lot of money - take it and run!

If you want to use half of it towards a wedding, well fine. But if, as you say, you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, how long will it take you to see an amount like that again?

Also, you mention that your father has offered to pay for your wedding. That is very generous of him. You also mention wanting to suggest that your friends and relatives pay for your honeymoon.

I can't help but wonder what type of wedding and honeymoon you would be having if you and your FI paid for it yourselves?

Perhaps you should consider working out a wedding and honeymoon budget you can afford on the two paychecks you make together, instead of relying on friends and relatives to give you money that may or may not materialise.

If this is not possible for you, I suggest some financial counselling. You don't even have to spend money on that - AOTB has just given you a great outline. For free.

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VšnTillBruden Posts : 353 Registered: 1/16/10
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 12, 2010 9:30 AM Go to message in response to: TripleDagger3

OP, I used to live in southern California. And let me tell you something: that $20,000 your dad has promised you will most likely not get you a big, white wedding with 300 guests in attendance, unless you plan on contributing some of your own savings, which I doubt you have much to spare, since you say you live paycheck to paycheck. With how expensive various vendors and venues are in California, you're much better off taking your father's offer to have a backyard wedding, and keep that money for something else. I would kill to have that kind of money given to me and told "Take it for whatever you need".

And for the record, as AOTB and ArtBride said, there is nothing whatsoever wrong with a backyard wedding. In fact, it's much more relaxing, in my opinion.

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. (Swedish proverb)

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VšnTillBruden Posts : 353 Registered: 1/16/10
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 12, 2010 9:34 AM Go to message in response to: VšnTillBruden

I'd also like to add after re-reading your post, OP, that the likelyhood your guests will bring you cash gifts surpassing the $20,000 (or more) you spent on this wedding is slim to none. I don't know about other couples, but when my parents got married, their cash gifts amounted to about roughly 5,000 to 7,000 dollars. Which is a great amount, it's still a couple thousand dollars to save for themselves. But why not have 25,000 or 27,000 to put into your bank account, instead of just 5,000 or 7,000? See what I'm saying, OP?

You and your FH are buying a house. Take the 20,000, and whatever cash gifts you get, and put that into your new home & savings.

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. (Swedish proverb)

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 12, 2010 10:30 AM Go to message in response to: christinagsu

I don't think I understand what people are saying by "financially stable". If you can afford the things you want, does the fact that you do so "paycheck to paycheck" mean you are not financially stable?

Urgh, I don't even know where to start! First off, please read AOTB's response. She laid it all out there pretty well for you.

Secondly, being financially stable is not about 'affording the things you want.' It's about living comfortably within your means and knowing that you will be OK in the event of an emergency. That helps me sleep at night.

As I said above, I've lived paycheck to paycheck, and it's stressful. Even if you're living on a tight budget, an unexpected expense (and such things are usually totally out of your control, such as sickness or injury leading to large medical bills, job loss, a car breaking down, etc) can throw everything off for you. Soon you're stressing to make ends meet, and often you end up robbing Peter to pay Paul, which only puts you more behind overall and stresses you out more.

It's nice that you're able to 'afford the things you want' and still live paycheck to paycheck, but what happens when something unexpected happens? With no money in savings, how would you live if you lost your job? With no savings, you won't be able to pay for COBRA coverage, so you'd have no health insurance. Say you get sick or hurt during this period - how would you pay the thousands of dollars of medical bills you'd be stuck with? This is an extreme example, but unexpected expenses come up every day. Last month we had to pay a tax bill that we never expected, as we've always received a large refund and nothing changed from the previous year. I'd prefer to have the money to pay it than to live in fear of the IRS garnishing my wages or seizing my bank account.

I am 29 and DH is 30. I consider us to be borderline financially stable (by my own standards). We don't always have a lot of extra money in our checking account, and we can't always 'afford the things we want' when we want them. We instead save if we want something beyond our normal living expenses. We do, however, have an emergency fund, though it isn't as large as I'd like. We have enough to cover DH's paychecks for about six months, just in case. I'll breathe easier when it's up to a year. For us, we do not worry about covering my salary, as I am tenured. I contribute 10% into my 401K and my employer matches up to 6%, for a total of 16% - and I have an IRA, which I also contribute to monthly. DH doesn't contribute as much to his 401, but he contributes enough to get the company match and he also has an IRA. I'd like to see him contribute more, but he's actually in good shape, as he began working a job with a retirement plan at a younger age than I did. We have a lot of debt, but it's mostly 'good debt' as they say. That doesn't make me like it, but at least we're getting a return on our investments for most of it. My debt is solely student loans, but I have much more than I would like. DH also has a lot of student loan debt, and he also has a car loan and some credit card debt. According to AOTB's analysis, a car loan is good debt if you drive it to work, but I consider ours to be consumer debt, as we could have bought a cheaper car. DH's credit card debt is from before we were married, when he was laid off and couldn't find a new job for about 6 months. (Lesson: THAT is what happens when you live paycheck-to-paycheck. In an emergency, you run up credit card debt that ends up taking you several years to pay off). We recently paid off one of his cards, we're on track to pay off another by the end of the year, and we'll tackle the last one next year. That's FOUR YEARS to pay off the debt caused by not having any savings (paying far above the minimum payments). And he didn't even live completely off the credit cards. He lived with his parents and then with me, not paying rent for six months. I paid as many of his bills for him during that time as I could. I can't imagine how bad his credit card debt would be if he had had to live completely off them for those six months. As far as charities go, I contribute 3% to my favorite charity (my employer has a great program to make charitable donations through payroll deduction) and make weekly contributions to my church collections. I don't know what percent of my income that comes to, but it's a low percent. I usually give $20/wk. I should probably give more, but

Recently, DH hurt his back very badly. His insurance is good, but we're still paying $30 copays 3-4 times a week for physical therapy and specialist appointments. Not to mention the ridiculous sum of money that we've spent on prescriptions for pain meds. And all the time he's missing from work to attend said appointments, as he's already exhausted his sick leave and annual leave. On top of that, his job, which is a non-permanent contract job, is ending sometime over the summer, perhaps as early as June. I'd be seriously losing sleep right now if we didn't have an emergency fund. Even with one, I'm nervous that our savings will run out before he finds a new job. I'm also nervous that he'll end up in another job for which he's overqualified and his salary will be too low to cover his monthly bills. I make good money, but things are very expensive in our area and like I said, we have a lot of debt.

Like I said, I consider myself to be pretty financially stable. We're not where I'd like to be yet, but we're Ok. And I'd STILL take 20K, if offered the choice.

DaisypathWedding Ticker

Vice President and Guardian of the Toilet Brush of POOP: People Offended by Offended People

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christinagsu Posts : 50 Registered: 11/18/08
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 12, 2010 10:38 AM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

Aunt - Would you please forward the private message I sent you this morning to Art? I believe the same message would be great for her to read.

This Thread has gone away from the original question, therefore I responded privately, as to not clutter this thread with unrelated topics.

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 12, 2010 10:40 AM Go to message in response to: VšnTillBruden

I'd also like to add after re-reading your post, OP, that the likelyhood your guests will bring you cash gifts surpassing the $20,000 (or more) you spent on this wedding is slim to none.

I seriously doubt it. Compared to what we spent on our wedding, we only received about 10% of that number in cash gifts. Granted, we had a pretty small wedding in an expensive area - so the cost was very high and the number of guests was low, but from what I know of the cost of living in soCal, you're probably looking at similar costs. Also, most of our guests had to travel a long distance to attend our wedding, so they spent more money on travel and less on gifts than they probably would have normally, as we would have wanted them to. And we had a traditional registry, which many guests purchased gifts from instead of giving cash.

Thanks for bringing that up, VTB. I always chuckle a little to myself when brides think they'll get back the same amount of money in gifts as they spend on their wedding. Yes, every wedding is different, but that was TOTALLY not the case for ours!

DaisypathWedding Ticker

Vice President and Guardian of the Toilet Brush of POOP: People Offended by Offended People

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cyndi33 Posts : 2,585 Registered: 1/3/07
Re: To budget or not to budget.. that is the question
Posted: May 12, 2010 10:44 AM Go to message in response to: christinagsu

huh?? off topic?? THe thread is about whether to take 20K and save it, or spend it. Financial stability is directly related to that. YOu got really great advice from someone who works in finance, and others, and now private messages are going around and somehow, the thread was hijacked?? seriously? wow. whatever. Keep living paycheck to paycheck and good luck to you. I can't imagine choosing to do so, when I did it certainly wasn't by choice.

 Proud Member of P.O.O.P.,  People Offended by Offended People

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