Real letters from real readers. Send yours to info @ ControlYourCash . com.
My fiancé and I are getting married! We know that destination weddings can get expensive, so we’re going to do it close to home. The problem is that he and I can’t come to an agreement on some of the most basic parts of the wedding. Like the venue. I want to hold the reception at the ballroom in a local 5-star hotel ($12,000), while he wants to do it at his father’s yacht club ($13,000, but my fiancé claims the view of the lake is awesome and there might be a party boat involved.) Which do you think is better?
Sincerely, Melinda in Broken Arrow
None of the above. Either is a giant and needless expense.
Here’s how you do a wedding, assuming you’re not a trust-fund punk. First, go to the county clerk and get a marriage license for $60 or however much it costs. Then pay your priest/minister/rabbi whatever his going rate is, which is probably not that much. Finally, hold the reception at one of your parents’ houses. If your mother and mother-in-law want to help they can go to Costco and buy those giant packs of hors d’oeuvres.
One more thing. It’s probably too late for this, but don’t register anywhere. Find a tactful way to say “cash gifts only” to your invitees. One way to handle that is to just say nothing, and when they realize you aren’t registered they’ll probably take it upon themselves to discreetly hand you an envelope at some point during the evening. You might even end up making a profit on the deal. But yeah, do it on the cheap. This is one place where frugality makes tremendous sense.
My fiancée is driving me crazy. She’s already made a non-refundable $6000 deposit on a ballroom for our wedding, and let’s not forget the $5000 I spent on an engagement ring. I make $40,000 a year. And now we’re – I wouldn’t say arguing, but heatedly discussing such details as the wedding invitations. Did you know engraved vellum paper goes for $1.50 per invite? Multiply that by 200 and you can see what just one of our problems is. Beef medallions on the dinner menu vs. chicken for $1 a plate cheaper, it never ends. What do I do?
Sincerely, Brian in Broken Arrow
$11,000 in sunk costs already? Man. Another $7 won’t kill you, so you should buy our book and figure out how to build wealth instead of destroying it.
Also, it’s 2013. Why are you sending invites via any medium other than email? You know how much an email invitation costs, right?
Are you going to be one of those couples who never talk about money until it’s too late? It’s cool if you are, just know that you’re already well on the path to sitting across from each other at the kitchen table a couple years from now, she furrowing her brow and you staring at the readout on a Casio printing calculator, wondering why you’re so broke and whether you’ll have to move into a studio apartment once the baby arrives.
Well, your advice is certainly condescending. And unrealistic. You seriously expect me to have a discount wedding? Should I get my dress from Goodwill while I’m at it? Maybe you don’t understand how important this is and how deep our love for each other is. My wedding is going to be THE most important day of my life, and the idea of it being no more ceremonial than a Super Bowl party is offensive to me. I asked you a simple question about one venue vs. another and instead you start pontificating. Thanks for nothing, ass.
Sincerely, Go to Hell
Why did you ask for advice if you didn’t want advice?
Let’s do this Socratically. Would you say that most people a) worry about money, or 2) live with the freedom of knowing that they have sufficient cash flow and a big enough nest egg to see them through anything – financial independence, to coin a phrase?
This part of our conversation is unilateral, but we’ll answer for you. Obviously the answer is a). We’d guess that they outnumber the people in the other category at least 9 to 1. Now…would you believe, or at least be open to believing, that there might be a correlation between the plurality of people who have traditional weddings, and those who end up in the first category?
This is the ultimate in short-term thinking. Your wedding day. DAY. Singular. One of maybe 25,000 you have ahead of you. Why on earth would you focus all your attention, and undue money, on a single day when doing so means hampering your ability to build wealth over the remaining 24,999?
If your answer is “Because every girl dreams about her wedding day and I’ve been fantasizing about this since I was playing with Barbies,” then you’re a moron. It’s a non-repealable law of the universe that you can’t have it all. Everyone has to make choices. Even the biggest individual expenditures are done with respect to other possible outlays. Carl Icahn just borrowed $5.2 billion to attempt to take over Dell Inc. He didn’t go for Lenovo, or Acer, or even a company that does something other than manufacture computers. Icahn thinks that’s the way to get the best return for his (or his lenders’) money, so he acts accordingly.
We know what your objections are before you make them. How can we compare something as cold and utilitarian as a business deal to the magic and emotion of a wedding day? Because whether you choose to accept it or not, when you indebt and/or impoverish yourself to get married, there’s still a transaction. Multiple transactions. And as far as the people on the other side of them are concerned, business is business. The wedding planner, the hall, the florist, the caterer, the DJ etc. all get paid. In money. By you. And your heirs, if you let your bills sit long enough.
Also, the math doesn’t work out. You’ve got at least a 40% chance, conservatively speaking, of getting divorced. Yeah, we know. You two are different. (Also, we don’t know why the Centers for Disease Control with its $11.3 billion annual budget, an agency originally created for the narrow purpose of fighting malaria in the Southern United States, ended up being the nation’s official recordkeeper of marriage and divorce statistics.) An average wedding costs around $26,000. Even the most degenerate gambler in the world wouldn’t place a $26,000 bet on a game where there was a 40% chance of losing it all and a 60% chance of…well, still losing it all.
It is astonishing how many adults we meet who insist on handicapping themselves at the onset regarding money. Everyone with even a passing interest in personal finance will tell you how important it is to save early for retirement – why, if you just sock away an extra $10 a month starting when you’re 21 instead of waiting until you’re 40 you’ll have a billion more when you turn 65, or something. Yet none of these people will advocate something more obvious and even more impactful: Not blowing $26,000, and forgoing the assets that that could buy.
Still, most people aren’t going to listen to this. For a completely unrelated reason, most people aren’t wealthy.