It Costs How Much To Get Married!?

It Costs How Much To Get Married!?

The average American wedding cost has eclipsed $35,000. That’s more than half the yearly median income! Most of this growth in cost comes from the guest list. Couples are inviting more people and doing more for them.

If you’re tying the knot this year, read on for five ways to save on the cost of your big day!

1.) Schedule smart

Saturday is the most common date for weddings, since everyone has the day off and most churches aren’t available on Sundays. Consequently, venues are often more expensive on Saturdays.

Instead, pick another date that offers those benefits. Your special day can be the day before a holiday, or on the Sunday of a long weekend, like Labor Day. Your guests will still have time to enjoy themselves, and you’ll save as much as 15% on the cost of your venue.

2.) Untether yourself

When picking a venue, look for a place (or negotiate with your selected venue) that allows outside vendors to handle food, music and photography. Places that host weddings often may have existing relationships with businesses who can charge more because they’re not competing with anyone else.

If you can get this kind of flexibility, shop around for better prices on catering, music and flowers. You’ll also be able to get exactly what you want from these services, such as a signature cocktail instead of a full bar.

3.) Keep the “W” word to yourself

Every vendor has a “special” wedding price. Often, this means they charge more for any wedding-related service. You can save as much as 30% by keeping the occasion to yourself.

For example, when shopping for a dress, buying a formal gown that’s not labeled as a “wedding dress” can translate to savings. Getting a custom-decorated sheet cake can save a few hundred dollars, too.

4.) Put your guests to work

The biggest cost in most wedding-related items is the cost of labor. When you pay for flower arrangements, you’re paying about 10% for the flowers and 90% for the florist’s time. Instead of hiring professionals, consider putting your guests to work.

Many wedding guests would love to contribute to your special day. They’ll be happy to participate in making your wedding beautiful, and you’ll be happy to save a few bucks!

5.) Spread out the cost with a club account

A tremendous challenge for newlyweds is coming up with all that money, because all the wedding bills come due at the same time. For many couples, that means using consumer debt to finance the whole cost of their wedding. The ensuing interest and financing charges can make your wedding even more unaffordable.

Instead, consider opening a club account: Set up an automatic withdrawal from your checking account into an interest-bearing savings account. When the wedding bills come in, you’ll have money set aside to defray the costs and you’ll be able to borrow less.

Your Turn: What are your best cost-saving wedding hacks? Share your wisdom in the comments!



8 Ways To Save On Valentine’s Day

8 Ways To Save On Valentine’s Day

Having the perfect night out doesn’t mean you need to break the budget. Here are eight ideas for a thrifty Valentine’s Day date:

  1. Cook a romantic dinner at home instead of eating at an overpriced restaurant. Set the ambiance with some scented candles and soft music, and save a bundle!
  2. Make your own gift. Instead of buying a pricey piece of jewelry, frame a nice picture of the two of you or write a meaningful card.
  3. If you are going out to eat, make sure to check Groupon, LivingSocial and RetailMeNot for deals on restaurants near you before making reservations.
  4. Skip the wine bottle at the restaurant and pop the cork at home instead.
  5. Explore the great outdoors! It may be cold out, but you can still have fun just enjoying the fresh air. Bundle up and take a refreshing walk under the stars. Or, if it’s snowy out, build a snowman! Then, go home and warm up in front of the fireplace with steaming mugs of hot chocolate.
  6. Get yourself a great workout and have a fantastically fun date by going ice or roller-skating!
  7. Get cultured on a budget by taking advantage of a local museum’s free or discounted rates at specific times or nights.
  8. Have a rollicking good time at the neighborhood comedy club. Entrance tickets can be as cheap as $5 apiece!

Your Turn: How do you save on a date without compromising on the quality of the evening? Share your best tips with us in the comments!

How Was Your 2016?

How Was Your 2016?
How do I know if I’m on the right path? What can I do to get better? 
  • It’s time to take stock of your year. How much do you have saved today? How much do you have invested? How much debt are you carrying? How much were each of these in January? If you add up your savings, your investments and the value of what you own (stick to the big stuff, like your house, car and jewelry) and subtract your debt, you’ll have a good estimate of your net worth. Is it more than it was in January?
  • What did you buy in 2016? Take a look at your big purchases.  What were your big purchases? Were they worth it? If your net worth is less than it was a year ago, but that’s because you took a big vacation or went back to school, it might be worth it to you to take that financial step back. After all, you make money to pay for things, and a trip with the family or getting the education you always wanted are the kinds of things you remember.
  • If you want to do better, dig deeper. Go through your monthly expenditures and see if you’re happy with your budget. Tighten the belt where you can. Start small and pick a few spots where you can save money every month. Then, take half of the amount you’re planning to not spend and set up an automatic payment into savings every month. Do the same for an automatic payment onto your debt. If you can find $170 to cut out of your budget every month, that’s over $1,000 you can put into a money market or savings certificate that’s earning even more money. It’s also over $1,000 off your debt, plus savings from interest payments.

How Not To Bust Your Holiday Budget

How Not To Bust Your Holiday Budget

According a T. Rowe Price survey, more than 50% of parents will aim to get everything on their kids’ wish lists this year. Many of these parents will be paying for these gifts for months, or even years, afterward.

There’s a better way, and it’s simple: create a budget, and make informed decisions about your spending before you hit the shops.

Short-term effects

Tipping your budget just a bit every once in a while isn’t a disaster. But the spending hangover many parents face after holiday shopping is too large to be easily forgotten.

Over half the parents surveyed will pay for their holiday gifts with credit cards. Just 61% of them plan to pay off their spending within three months, and 16% say they will pay it off over the course of six months or more. That’s half a year spent catching up on holiday spending!

Think carefully this shopping season before you drop another item into your cart. Is this gift really worth trimming your budget for the next three – or six – months?

Long-lasting effects

11% of parents use money from their retirement accounts, 14% have taken funds out of their emergency savings and 11% have taken out a payday loan.

While their kids may be delighted with their loot, parents can be paying for it for longer than they think.

Taking $500 out of a 401(k) at age 35 translates into giving up $6,000 that was earmarked for retirement. Parents are forking out additional taxes and penalties to gain access to the money, and are also losing the opportunity for that money to grow.

Life Lessons

There’s nothing quite as exciting as unwrapping a present. Kids wait all year for the holidays and as their parents, you want to make them happy. This is why 60% of the parents surveyed claimed they try to check off every single item on their child’s wish list.

Aside from the financial drain, purchasing every gift your kids have their hearts set on teaches them a host of lessons they’re better off without. Do you really want your kids thinking they can always have everything they want? Do you want them to feel that everything they own must always be the best and most expensive?

This holiday season, teach your kids that true happiness can’t be bought.

Be proactive

Try saving up for the holiday season throughout the year. While it may be too late for this year, it’s never too early to start thinking about next season. Sign up for our holiday club accounts, and put money aside each month!

Be an informed shopper this holiday season and your decisions will pay off in more ways than one.

Your Turn:  How will you fund your holiday spending? Do you plan to buy your kids everything on their lists? Why or why not?



How Can Save Your Family Budget

How Can Save Your Family Budget

If you’re a mom (or dad) trying to keep a handle on the family finances, is the place to go for daily coupon deals, special offers and frugal living advice. Launched by Crystal Paine in 2004 as a way to supplement the family income while her husband was in law school, the site now attracts nearly 2 million visitors per month.

Paine operates the site in addition to home-schooling her three children. She credits her interest in couponing to her mother, who also involved her in doing grocery shopping and planning meals for their family of nine.

The site focuses on the interests of moms who are trying to save money. In one such example, visitors could receive free Mrs. Meyers cleaning products valued at $38 with a $20 purchase from organic products company ePantry or a Hoover vacuum from Amazon for $79. includes every money-saving strategy under the sun, from daily deal sites such as Groupon and Living Social to coupons for major grocery and drugstore chains, including Albertson’s, CVS, Food4Less, Krogers, Ralphs, Target and Wal-Mart.

The site is worth visiting regularly for the coupons and special deals alone. But there are plenty of other reasons to stay, including birthday deals, kids-eat-free deals and cashback sites. Paine, who is “passionate about living simply and frugally,” says her goal is to tell moms “about legitimate, practical, non-gimmicky ways to help you save money in your everyday life.”

There are plenty of money-saving opportunities in the kitchen. The site features a full recipe index, searchable by meal type, ingredients and eating preference. Paine is a big proponent of freezer cooking, where you spend several days each month cooking in bulk and freezing meals so the rest of the month involves little to no meal prep. Resources include articles on freezer cooking and planning your cooking day, as well as forms you can use to list your needed ingredients.

For moms and dads interested in upping their organizational abilities, there are free budget and meal-planning forms and a free “7 Day Makeover Your Calendar Course.” The money-saving front is rounded out with personal finance product reviews, the “52 Ways to Save $100 a Week” series, and the “More than 25 Income-earning Ideas” list.