You found the love of your life and you planned the wedding of your dreams. To keep family members happy on both sides, you even incorporated many family traditions and perhaps even created some of your own along the way. You said your vows before your family and friends and now you're a married couple.
Waiting for your big day may have appeared like an eternity especially with all of the planning involved leading up to your big day. However all of the planning is worth it when you get to enjoy life together. There's a sense of pride knowing you went from single to engaged to married.
Now with your wedding out of the way, you're enjoying waking up to the love of your life and you are looking forward to sharing a lifetime of countless memories together. However what you were not looking forward to is a mountain of wedding debt. It is easy to get caught up in planning your wedding and spending more than you've anticipated especially with vendors enticing you with too good to be true promotions that make you spend more. Even creating a small budget for your wedding can be costly considering the average wedding in Canada costs $30,717 according to a recent Weddingbells.ca survey.
Wedding debt is an awful gift to receive after you say I do. It is also a stressful way to start your marriage especially when the number one reason for a marriage to fall apart is not because of infidelity -- it is because of money woes.
A major contributor to under budgeting is a variety of wedding expenses engaged couples did not factor in such as the marriage license, alterations for your dress/tuxedo, permits to take pictures in your favourite park and many other additional expenses.
To ensure your union will last the test of time, consider the following five-step matrimonial debt payoff plan:
1. Understand what you are up against
Go online to view the most recent statement of your credit card account. Make a plan to work towards paying off your debt.
2. Use your monetary gifts
The monetary gifts you received at your wedding can help you to start your marriage off on a strong financial foundation. So take these gifts and apply it towards your wedding debt. Your bank account will thank you!
3. New life, new budget
Sit down with your better half and plan your financial future together. Create a budget to reevaluate your spending and financial obligations. Don't get frustrated if you do not see eye to eye at first -- everyone is different and practice makes perfect!
4. Party over
Let's face it, your wedding was the most expensive party you've ever thrown. It cost you thousands of dollars, and now you're trying to pick up the tab responsibly. To help you achieve your debt management goals in a timely fashion, now is a good time to reduce your monthly entertainment budget. The extra money you save can be applied to your wedding debt.
5. Say no way to your minimum payment
Paying only the minimum payment will get you nowhere fast because of high interest rates. If you want to shrink your debt in record time, you need to pay more than the minimum payment on your credit card. When you do this, you will notice your principal balance shrink before your eyes.
If you follow the above tips in your marriage you will not only slay your debt, you will build a strong financial foundation for your union. When you put your wedding debt behind you, it will free you up to focus on other financial goals you may have. Every payment you make on your debt is a step in the right direction towards your financial freedom.
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The most important tip cited by many wedding experts is to create a budget plan before you purchase anything -- and stick to it. Wedding experts Susan Southerland and Samantha Goldberg agreed that couples need to sit down and figure out exactly what their wedding "must-haves" are and how much they want to spend. "If they don't have a level head and they haven't started thinking, 'Here's what I can spend without getting into trouble,' they wind up going with their heart and not sticking to it," Southerland said. And, if you follow your budget, you shouldn't have any problems with overspending. "If they have a blueprint, there won't be a reason to feel like they're going to go over, because they've been on this plan the entire time," Goldberg said (download her wedding budget tracker here).
By cutting the guest list, you can save exponentially on things like flowers, tables, and square footage, said wedding planner Marcy Blum. You'll have a better event if you invite fewer guests, rather than eliminating services like an open bar and proper facilities. "It would be much better to cut the guest list than cut the wait staff. There's no point in doing something halfway," Blum said.
Money-saving expert Kendal Perez offered this little-known tip: buy used gift cards from stores you'd like to purchase wedding items from at GiftCardGranny.com. When shoppers receive a gift card to a store they don't like, they can sell the card on GiftCardGranny.com for less than face value -- meaning you can buy the card and save up to 30 percent. For example, there are cards available from 1-800 Flowers, Tiffany, and wedding dress retailers like J. Crew. "It’s a different way to save money without having to shop sales, but if you can couple that with something on sale then you’re getting even more savings," Perez said.
Matthew Robbins, author of "Matthew Robinns' Inspired Weddings," cautioned couples against renting too many fancy items, and instead recommended mixing in just a few special pieces with items already included in your venue. For example, rent a unique water or champagne glass to add something special to the table, or use a simple cloth from the venue for the tables and rent a beautiful overlay or runner to dress things up. "Choose wisely and consider rental items as a special accent to embellish what your venue provides," Robbins said.
Holidays are more expensive, plain and simple, said wedding planner Yifat Oren. "You might think it's easier for people to get time off work, but they'll be spending more money all around on travel and accommodations, not to mention the challenges with availability during high season times," she said.
Sign up for all your potential vendors' email lists and follow them on social media in order to get the first scoop on deals, contests, and freebies, said Sharon Naylor, wedding expert and author of "The Bride's Guide To Freebies." You'll hear about clearance sales, "Pin It To Win It" contests on Pinterest, trunk shows and more deals you wouldn't have known about otherwise. "If you’re following them and keeping a good eye on them, you can cash in on some great stuff," Naylor said.
Don't feel like you need to spend money on things you don't really need but feel like you have to have, said money-saving expert Kendal Perez. Skip wedding traditions that seem necessary, like programs and favors. "I don’t think I've ever kept a wedding favor. Those things are unnecessary expenses," Perez said. "Make sure you're planning the party you want and you're not including things just because everyone includes them."
Vendors will sometimes give discounts to clients they enjoyed working with and, if you ask, may agree to give you freebies or substitutions, said wedding expert Sharon Naylor. But don't forget to be nice! "You cannot be a steamroller and you can't demand it and you can't say, 'Well, I heard you gave my friend a free [food] station so what am I going to get?'" Naylor said. "When vendors don't like you you're not going to get as many freebies."
There's no rule that you must have a pricey dinner or cocktail hour for all of your guests, said wedding planner Xochtil Gonzalez. As long as you give guests something to eat and drink, that constitutes a party. Hire a food truck or consider holding a brunch on a Sunday afternoon. "If you know you have a fun crowd that’s going to dance no matter what if the music’s good and they’ve had a couple drinks, there’s no reason to force yourself to just have a nighttime party," Gonzalez said.
Instead of registering for kitchen supplies you don't really need, wedding planner Samantha Goldberg said you can actually register for wedding items such as a videographer or upgraded room on your honeymoon. Many vendors will make cards you can put in your invitations explaining your request to your guests. "You'd be surprised -- everyone pitches in here and there and suddenly you now have this money to have something you thought you wanted but weren't able to afford," Goldberg said.
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