6 ways to be ready for the big day
Nothing says "The Honeymoon's over" faster than a pile of credit card bills that arrive right after the wedding. The good news is you don't have to start your marriage laden with debt.
Start saving for your wedding ahead of time and you may be able to pay for it without breaking out your credit cards. Wouldn't it be amazing to put your wedding gifts toward the down payment on a house while real estate prices are low - instead of using them to pay the caterer?
Here's how to do it:
1. Take stock of your savings.
Add up what you've already tucked away, plus any money your parents and relatives plan to contribute. Download our Wedding Budget spreadsheet, and estimate the cost of your wedding. This should help you to determine how much you need to save. Don't forget to factor in money for the honeymoon.
2. Get a running start.
If you start saving two years ahead of time instead of one, you'll be able to sock away twice as much money. Once you have a couple of thousand dollars saved, invest it in a short-term CD so you earn more interest.
3. Open a "wedding only" bank account.
Have money transferred automatically from your checking account to the wedding account each month and agree not to raid the account when you're short on cash.
Savings Tip #2
A good rule of thumb is to limit housing costs to no more than 25% of your take-home pay. Sharing an apartment can reduce your expenses.
4. Turn clutter into cash.
Chances are, there's a market where you can sell some of the things that are collecting dust in your closets, if they're in good condition. Here are some ideas:
- Find a consignment shop that will help you sell clothes, shoes and accessories you'll never wear again. Bonus: You’ll avoid future battles for closet turf with your mate.
- Sell books you'll never read again on Amazon® or eBay® or to a company such as Cash4Books.net.
- Sell your old computer, furniture you won't need when you get married and other big items you don't need, or for which you and your mate have duplicates, on a site such as Craig’s List.
- Bring your orphan earrings, knotted necklaces and other jewelry you won't wear again to a reputable jewelry shop that will pay you cash for gold.
5. Shape up and save.
Walk or bike instead of driving or taking cabs and trains whenever possible. You'll look better on your wedding day and reduce your commuting expenses.
6. Barter for what you need.
Caterers, wedding photographers, bands, florists, dress designers and the others who are part of your wedding cast all run businesses. If you offer professional services in a field such as accounting, law, Web design, marketing - or even massage therapy - they may be willing to accept part of their pay in hours of your time. That'll help reduce how much you need to save.
Take action now.
With a little creativity and a lot of advance planning, you'll be able to pay for your entire wedding well before you say, "I do."
What's next? Living on a budget - the envelope system