I don’t remember where I read it, but I know I’ve seen some statistic that disagreements over money are what most commonly end marriages.
Image from Active Rain
I’m going to try really, really hard not to let that happen to us. If I may toot my own horn for a moment (toot toot!), I’m pretty good with money. I’m not a financial guru or anything. But I don’t have any debt. I pay my bills on time. I try to save money where I can.
Mr. Whale on the other hand…He does…fine. He’s not a spend-a-holic. But he’ll tell you flat out that he hates money. He wishes it didn’t exist. (As an economist, I try to explain to him how it does make our lives easier, but…nevermind. It’s not important for this.) In any case, he spends what he needs to. But after going back to undergraduate once and now being a graduate student, sometimes even just buying what you need means going into debt.
And because Mr. Whale has some debt, I’m trying to get used to the fact that I, too, will soon have debt. I don’t have to assume any part of his debt, of course. We could keep our finances separate, and he could deal with it on his own. But after more than a year of living together and keeping separate finances the entire time, I can tell you that unless you’ve got a ton of money, keeping things separate is tough enough on its own. We evenly split the groceries, the rent, and the utilities. And when we go out to eat, we just take turns on who pays. But it’s a hassle. Every month I have to get all the receipts, add them up, figure out who owes what, then we settle up via paying more or less rent. And what if we have a fancy meal that costs a little more than usual? Should we still just trade off on who pays for that meal? Ugh. It’s a mess.
Unfortunately AND FORTUNATELY, my wedding planning time is almost up. The Sword’s Big Day is just around the corner and I literally can’t believe I’ve been engaged since last February. Life has flown by in the best of ways during this year and I have enjoyed nearly every second of it. I’ve also learned a ton about what has benefited us the most while being engaged and I’d love to pass my insight on to you.
If you just got engaged over the holidays (congrats) or if you’re still in the early stages of planning, this list is for you!
Miss Sword’s Six Tips for the “Year of the Wedding” (length of “wedding year” can vary from a few months to multiple years)
1. Sign up for a PO Box. This has been hands down the smartest thing we ever did. These days it’s not common for couples to be living together before marriage and to be living in an apartment or a condo. If you live in a place with a tiny mailbox or a slightly unsafe area (heeey big cities!), then a PO Box is the safest way to receive packages, gifts, letters and wedding response cards. We reserved one this past August through UPS for 14 months and it was $360. Every time we order something important (like a gift for our parents, my shoes, the guestbook, etc.), we have it sent to the PO Box. We also put this address on our wedding website and registries so our personal address isn’t plastered everywhere and our wedding gifts are sent straight to the UPS store as opposed to being stuck outside in the snow or at another location because they can’t be delivered. The best part is that they send us an email and a text every time we receive a package, so usually once or twice a week I hop in the car and drive the one mile to our PO Box to pick up our loot. This one from Thursday was particularly awesome. See below.
2. Keep extra thank you cards and stamps nearby for quick return on sending those thank you cards out the door. Most of us are lucky enough to have bridal showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties, and to receive gifts before the wedding. The best way to show your appreciation for everyone’s time and generosity is to get your thank you cards out in a prompt and quick fashion. This also helps your mental state as well because it’s an easy and fast way to check something off your long to-do list. I gave myself three weeks after each event or party and a week after a wedding gift is delivered to get my thank you note in the mail. You don’t have to write a novel, just sincere appreciation from the heart. I try to buy a set of thank-you cards for each event and then to mix and match extras as not everyone is invited to each event. Does that make sense? I’m really looking forward to using our Once Upon a Time themed thank yous (yet to be revealed) that we ordered from Minted with our invitations to thank everyone for attending our wedding.
Yesterday was a big day for Mr. Spring Roll and me. No, we didn’t elope. We opened our first joint bank account. Sister Spring Roll works as a Personal Finance Representative at WaMu. Needless to say, we visited her branch for our big day.
Like many couples, Mr. PN and I have different views when it comes to finance. I am a penny-pincher and he tends to splurge a little more. Occasionally this causes conflict, but for the most part we keep each other on track. He reminds me that it is okay to spend money on clothes, nice haircuts and a pedicure (all things I view as non-essential), and I remind him that our TV is just fine and doesn’t need to be replaced yet (since it is less than 2 years old!).**
The number one conflict in marriage is money, and one of the biggest factors that contribute to divorce court is debt. Now let’s face it, money is very unromantic. It can be difficult to discuss and if you and your honey have different spending habits (which is often the case) it can be even harder to reconcile.
There’s an interesting thread on the Weddingbee boards at the moment discussing what it means to have a “budget wedding.” Some say the term means sticking strictly within a defined wedding budget. Others believe it’s a synonym for “inexpensive,” especially if you are able to pull off something that looks more expensive than its actual cost.
In our case, I’m not sure how well we did with #1. We spent what we spent, and I made some unwise and even wasteful purchases. But I’d like to think #2 came out well. Everyone has different definitions of “inexpensive.” But Mr. T and I were married in an extremely expensive area, with a celebration that included everything we cared about … for $8,800.
Here’s the breakdown of how we spent that sum, along with some tips for other would-be “budget” brides. (And some last favorites from Punam Bean’s wonderful photos!):
“It’s once in a lifetime…”
I hear this a lot. It’s what people tell me when I hesitate about making a wedding purchase due to cost. Sometimes people feel so passionately about what they think I deserve that I end up having to defend myself. These good intentioned debates usually halt completely when someone suggests involvement of my plastic buddy. I guess that’s where I draw the line.
According to an article on CNNMoney.com, a growing body of research shows that married couples are astonishingly clueless about many aspects of their financial life together. In a recent poll, four out of five respondents revealed that they hide purchases from the one they love.
We had a little discussion over in the BeeTV chatroom the other day about our spending habits and our significant other’s spending habits. Mr. Toucan is definitely a saver, while I on the other hand, am not. If shopping was a sport, I’d be on the varsity squad. I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to good deals, and have a particular weakness toward dresses and shoes.
Poorly edited by me in Paint – Original photo by Robert Mirani
Confession: I love Oprah. I tivo her and watch almost every episode. Yesterday’s program about women & money really got me thinking about us (and by “us” I mean you and me, wedding bee readers). We are at one of very few starting points in our lives, ladies. With marriage comes a lot of changes, and some of those changes relate to money.
Ah, money. It keeps me up at night, because I never seem to have enough of it. Mr. Cream Puff has much more of it than I do, but he’s in debt, too. Combined, we have over $30k in student loans, most of it mine. I feel responsible for every penny of it.
Every couple deals with money issues differently. My co-workers and I had a discussion about this the other day, when one of them asked, “when you don’t have any money, do you ask Mr. Cream Puff for some? Do you have a joint banking account?” My answer to both of those questions is “no.” Mr. Cream Puff and I keep our finances pretty separate. However, a lot of couples deal with their finances differently–some share everything, and some split everything right down the middle.
Strip courtesy of the now defunct Patrick Grey. R.I.P. Patrick.
Is the balance of my bank account.
Even though I always understood that weddings cost money, I was never really aware of how much money until I started paying for mine.
I’ll admit I was a fool. I should have known that the numbers floating around in my head were unreasonable, even doing things the budget way, but I was optimistic and figured that with a little elbow grease and ingenuity, we could squeak by with our meager budget. Oh how wrong I was . . .
Miss Toucan posted yesterday about a savings “account” they use — a change jar for all their loose change! Mr. Onion and I do this as well. I had a gallon jar filled with change before we moved in together and cashed it in for extra moving expenses - it was about $400!
Our first vacation together led us to Burlington, VT, where we ended up getting married. On that trip we took a tour of the Magic Hat Brewery and we went home with a growler of what they had on tap that weekend. We kept the bottle and now put our change in it as we’re saving up for our first home. They actually wrote “new apartment fund” on it at Magic Hat and we didn’t notice until we got home!
When Mr. Toucan and I moved in together, I realized we both kept little stashes of coins for a rainy day. Most of my coins were saved up from when I worked as a waitress, and always had some extra change from tips. I’m actually not sure where all Mr. Toucan’s change came from…
Anyway, Mr. Toucan kept his change in a giant glass bottle. Come to think of it, I think he’s been hoarding change because he likes the look of the glass bottle. So, we decided to combine both of our “rainy day funds” together. I put all my change into his glass bottle:
In light of my last post, I figured I’d write kind of a how-to follow up for people who maybe haven’t had the big money talk with their families yet. It can be a really hard thing to talk about, especially because there’s kind of this general idea floating around that the love and happiness of your big day shouldn’t be tainted with talk of dollars and cents, but really, when it comes down to it, the bottom line can be a really big deal and one of the first things you should deal with when planning so that it doesn’t cost you a huge amount of grief later.
So my tips for “The Talk”.
1. Be united – Before you go in to talking to either set of parents, talk things out with your partner to make sure you’re on the same page. Work out the things you might need help with and then, when you go into the talk, have the person whose parents you are talking to take the lead in terms of navigating the conversation. There is nothing more awkward or unfair than forcing your honey to hit up your parents for cash.
It’s funny how a little bit of time can change things. When I originally wrote my post about my parents and my financial situation surrounding our wedding, it was not too long after we’d gotten engaged and I think my parents, even though they were happy for Mr. Hummingbird and myself, were kind of weirded out about the idea of me, their only child, getting married.
After we made our announcement, as if it was almost a reflex, the first words out of my mother’s mouth were “We’re not paying for it,” even though I hadn’t expected or asked my parents to. I’m not sure exactly which emotion motivated the reaction. Maybe it was surprise at our big news. Maybe it was confusion because I once announced as a teenager that I would never get married. Maybe it was fear after seeing the increasingly elaborate and expensive wedding plans being staged by her friend’s daughter. I don’t know. All I knew was I made my announcement, my mom said no and I immediately figured that was the end of it.
As I mentioned in my previous entry, as much as I wish it were not the case, money is a concern for us as we plan our big day.
From the minute we got engaged, I was told by my parents that they would not be contributing financially in any way to help us pay for our big day. My mother thinks that long engagements are ridiculous and both my parents feel that it is a big waste of money on what “essentially boils down to a big party.” This reaction did not surprise me since I have always known my parents to have very set ideas about money, especially due to the three years of financial hardship we faced when my father was unexpectedly laid off from his job. When he became re-employed, he not only ended up having to take a pay cut (his senior management salary was considered too much) but we ended up moving into a smaller house and a precedent was set – every man for himself.