All dreams, rational or romantic, are easier to imagine than to achieve. In the spirit of this wedding prep season, here are some financial tips to help you get married debt-free, move into your new home, and get on the path to financial security together.
EXAMINE YOUR OVERALL SITUATION
A wedding only lasts a day, but the rest of your life. So consider your wedding as one part of your overall financial picture. Decide on the formula that will make both of you happy, within a reasonable and affordable budget. Don’t be put off by the word “budget”. It’s simply a way to organize and manage your money. See this budget exercise as an apprenticeship in the achievement of a common financial objective.
PAY FOR YOUR WEDDING WITH REAL MONEY
You could finance your wedding with your credit cards or by “drawing” money from your investments or your retirement plans, but don’t do it! You would end up paying for your wedding for years. For example, if you borrow $25,000 on your credit card, at an interest rate of 14%, and only pay the required monthly minimum, it would take you 100 years to pay off your debt!
MAKE A FINANCIAL PLAN AND STICK TO IT
Once you’ve established a wedding budget based on the money that will be available on the day, start saving for that goal. And while you’re at it, you might as well set other goals — like a down payment on your new home — and start saving (and investing!) around those goals.
Make sure you get the most out of your savings by establishing an investment plan. This way, you might be able to transfer some of your savings from your low-interest bank accounts to higher-yielding investments. If you don’t want to tie up your money for a long time, you could opt for liquid investments like money market accounts. You’ll then get strong returns and almost immediate access to your funds when needed.
Use the following financial planning questions to go from dream to reality:
- How much debt did each of us have before marriage?
- How much are our savings?
- What is our joint monthly income (salary and/or other income)?
- What are our monthly expenses (mortgage/rent, food, maintenance, personal items, phone, cable, hydro, auto, gas, parking, insurance, taxes, bank loans, credit card payments, entertainment, etc.)?
- How much can we save monthly for our wedding (including wedding rings and a honeymoon)?
- How much can we save or invest for our other “dreams”?
Once your assets, debts, and expenses are established, the “true” picture of your savings becomes very clear. Then you know if your wedding budget is realistic or needs adjustment, how long until you have a debt-free wedding date, and when you can easily realize your other dreams. Once your budget is in place, check your progress regularly to stay on track.
Yes, with smart financial planning, you can achieve your dreams without mortgaging your future. A professional financial advisor can help you find financial success in your new life together.