Approaching retirement, the birth of a child, or writing that first tuition check for college … these are all life events financial planners help clients with on a daily basis. A wedding, as I have found out from first-hand experience over the past year, is certainly one of these major financial milestones that can be overlooked or underestimated. Last September, I became engaged to my best friend and love of my life, Robin. We were both beyond excited to start our journey together and begin the wedding planning. But as we both quickly found out, nothing about a wedding is cheap! There were some things I have learned throughout the wedding planning process that I think can truly help couples during this stressful, overwhelming but very fun time.
Things I have learned
- Find out early on what type of financial assistance (if any) is available from family. This will help immensely to avoid confusion and keep everyone on the same page.
- Sit down together and take a look at your existing cash flow figures and create a REALISTIC budget that they both of you agree upon and stick to it!
- Take a close look at your personal savings accounts and determine how much you can afford to draw from those accounts while still leaving funds available for an emergency fund (we typically recommend keeping 3 – 12 months of cash reserves, depending on the client’s situation).
- Be aware of the potential consequences of using retirement accounts, such as an IRA or 401k to pay for wedding expenses (early withdrawal penalties, excess tax, lack of long term growth, etc.).
- Do your best to stay away from personal loans. These types of loans often require a form of collateral, and usually carry hefty interest rates.
- Consider RESPONSIBLY utilizing low interest credit cards for a portion of expenses. Many cards offer 0% rates for 12 – 24 months and, if paid off within this time frame, can be a great tool to help with the incoming costs while planning.
- Guys – help your fiancé! You probably don’t care about how the napkins will be folded at the reception, but taking things off of her plate such as honeymoon planning or researching vendors can really go a long way.
- Most importantly – HAVE FUN! At times, the planning won’t be, but take a step back and realize what the two of you are planning for together and enjoy it!
As our October wedding approaches, we are in the home stretch and finalizing the last details that make my head spin. It was not always a smooth or easy ride but knowing I get to spend the rest of my life with Robin has made all of the stress more than worth it. Know what you can afford, stay on budget and be responsible, just like any other major financial event. With proper planning and help from your financial advisor, the process will go much smoother and keep the both of you sane!
Any opinions are those of Center for Financial Planning, Inc., and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James.