Tag Archives: budget

Saying I Do to the Wedding Industry…

This week I’m set to sign the contract for our wedding venue. It’s a lovely-but-not-perfect venue in a location that is somewhat convenient for guests traveling from all around the country and that will cost, at a minimum, if all we do is show up, about $23,000.

And as I frantically try to figure out how to cut down all the additional spend (which now is about $25k more), I ask myself over and over – WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY?

Well, yes, yes I am crazy. I have to be to spend so much money on a half of a day.

As soon as that contract is signed, I have to go through with it. Really, though, I already have to go through with something. We have a date, we’ve informed others to unofficially save the date, and we’ve asked our officiant and a few members of the bridal party to prepare for the big day. So something will happen. I just wish I could make that something cost $10,000 vs $50,000.

I wish I could have a rational conversation with my parents about money, but I can’t. They want to spend the money on this wedding, even though they have a $200k in home equity debt, and even though they just bought a $60k condo (second home) with plans to do $50k+ renovations to it, and even though every day the stock market does poorly the worse the decision to take $45,000 out of their savings is…. I can’t have one moment of rational conversation with them. The second I bring up being cost efficient in anyway, my dad throws a fit. He wouldn’t want the wedding to seem cheap or anything.

If my fiance wanted a big wedding then maybe this would make sense. But he’d much prefer something quiet and mellow with good friends. Meanwhile the thought of planning a wedding right now in nine months gives me heaping amounts of heart attacks. All in all, this seems like a horrible no good idea.

Yet I still think I’ll regret NOT having this big wedding. Maybe I wouldn’t. I don’t know. I do feel like I either go all in, or we just seriously elope and that’s that. Maybe we have a little party with local friends and call it a day. We move on with our lives. If we need to, I ask my parents for $45k for a few cycles of IVF so I can have children… or perhaps for a kick start on their college tuition savings. Not a stupid party.

But that isn’t the options. I either get the money for a stupid party, or nothing. And the guilt of accepting this money is eating me up inside. Yes I can pay for some of it, but what I wanted to do is work with my parents to negotiate with vendors, especially the venue, so all the costs could come down a bit. My dad is too stubborn to do that. Too proud. All efforts of negotiating were thwarted by his refusal to play bad cop, to state that he didn’t want to pay so much for X or Y. Ok, so with the venue at $23,000 – we’re just starting so high, it’s hard to keep the entire event under $30k, which is my goal, because I think any more than that is completely batshit.

Of course, I can’t help but want a $6,000 photographer, a $4,000 videographer, $2k-$3k for flowers, and $4k-$5k for my dress, alterations, shoes, under garments, accessories, hair and makeup. And then there’s transportation and invites and this doesn’t even count the honeymoon or the rehearsal dinner et al.

If I could do the wedding in the off season it could be cheaper, but then so many people couldn’t come. I can’t figure out how to save money… how to get to that $30k budget that I’ve set as a goal…

Here is a tight budget based on what I’ve observed in the market, with the exception of my venue which isn’t the cheapest but also isn’t the most expensive.

$23k – venue
$5k – photography
$2k – video
$3k – dress
$2k – flowers
$1k – transport
$1k – invites
$3k – music (DJ)

Well that’s $40k right there. And I don’t feel like that’s a lavish wedding at all. How do I get this down to $35k at most?

Biggest Purchases in My Life

I’m turning 32 in a few months, and I’m looking at my overall networth and if it could be higher right now if I had not made some “big” purchases. Really, though, it would be higher if I didn’t make all of the small purchases!

  • $17,000 – second car, paid for all cash (used from a dealer) — I don’t love this car, I wish I picked another, but it’s fine and safe
  • $16,000 – stock in private company (purchased stock options), worth $0 today (insert frown face here)
  • $10,000 – DUI fine, legal fees, et al. Worst expenditure in my life, for many reasons.
  • $8000 – first car, paid for all cash (used from a craigslist seller) — lasted me about 7 years, was a great car (V6!) and I miss it; probably could have lasted longer but it ended up not starting and getting towed from my parking space, wasn’t worth paying to get it out of the pound. Should have been able to sell it for at least $1000, so that was a waste.
  • $4500 – invisible braces, cosmetic and somewhat health related, so far worth it but I wish it wasn’t so expensive!
  • $4000 – “unlimited” laser hair removal — WORTH IT — though the place changed owners and “unlimited” was more like “limited”

Those are really all of my big purchases in life thus far outside of college and my annual rent ($16,200 a year for my share of a 1br.) Oh, and of course about $300k in actual stock… I guess you can say that’s a purchase.

Looking at spending $40k+ on my wedding in comparison seems kind of nutso, even if my parents are contributing a large chunk of that.

What are the biggest purchases you’ve made in your life?

Wedding Budget Woes and Excitement-Crippling Guilt

My father WANTS to pay for a $45,000 wedding. So many engaged couples planning their nuptials would love to have that generous offer. I do love it, but I also still feel ill when I think about it. $45,000 for ONE FREAKING DAY – AM I OUT OF MY MIND?

Well, yes, I am.

I’ve searched high and low, east and west for the ideal wedding venue. I’ve done tons of research and put together budget sheet after budget sheet to try to cut down on costs while pleasing all who need to be pleased — it can’t be on a Friday night because of religion, can’t be in the winter or spring or fall because people have kids in school, can’t be on a holiday, can’t be at a venue that doesn’t have lots of seats during the cocktail hour, can’t be at a venue that is too far from an airport, can’t be somewhere that only serves beer and wine because god forbid we ask people to come across the country and don’t even deliver an open bar…

At the end of the day, I realized I had two choices (ahem, have two choices) – one, I do a wedding that’s truly for “us” – I pay for it all out of my own pocket, I narrow the guest list down significantly, and heck maybe I do something totally non-traditional and just have a picnic or something in a park. I do it in the winter… on a weeknight… because who cares, the wedding isn’t about other people, it’s about us, getting, you know, married.

OR – this is an event for my family, namely my mother and father. My dad (who is equal parts terminally ill and obsessed with his daughter having a big fancy wedding and getting pregnant two seconds after the wedding ends) would be somewhat upset if I didn’t have a sizable shindig. To be fair to him, we don’t know how much longer he will live, and if he’s saved up money throughout his life then why not give him the party that he’d want, and hopefully also manage to put on an affair that stays true to my fiance and I.

But, come on, $45k on one night? I just… there are people who can’t afford to eat in this world… and I’m spending $45,000 for one stupid party?

The saddest thing of all (after the whole people in the world not being able to afford to eat) is that when I run the numbers, $45k isn’t really going to cover everything. I’ve already given up on a Saturday night wedding (minimums too high at the venues I like) and I’m doing a Sunday night, which is one of those things that all the frugal wedding blogs suggest. And I’ve already had a few people grumble about the Sunday night wedding saying they’ll leave early and not party as much (so, yea, there goes the value of that standard premium open bar.) The venue itself has a minimum of 135 people on a Sunday night, which is the one thing that may keep me from booking it — though at this point I have a hold on a date and I just want to book it and get on with my life! 135 minimum with $170 per person cost, plus some random extras that they don’t include but I consider necessary (on-site rehearsal for instance.)

For those of you who hate math, that’s $23,000-ish just for the minimum venue/catering fee. That’s BEFORE dress, band, photographer, videographer, florist, officiant, gifts, tips, rings, and the therapy I’ll need to survive all of this.

I am ridiculously torn between saying FUCK IT and eloping or saying FUCK IT and just closing my fiscal eyes to how ridiculous the entire situation is. I really wanted to figure out how to do the entire wedding for $30k and I thought Sunday night would help with that, but really there’s no way to do it for that price unless we either rent a hall and bring in catering (and have a smaller guest list) or… well, have a wedding somewhere in the middle of nowhere… and then no one will come, which is maybe for the better.

I really want someone to talk some sense into me and tell me that spending $45k+ on one day is the dumbest thing ever – even if it’s mostly my parent’s money and even if it’s money my parents want to spend. Someone knock some sense into me! I keep looking at all these wedding photos and videos and all I can think is how silly I’ll look in that set up. I feel too old for all that. And that money could be put to much better uses – either for my parents or for my future family.

The 135 minimum is really freaking me out now. I don’t know if I’ll get that many people. I’m inviting something like 150-175, but with people all around the country I bet RSVP rates will be 60% – which, for those of you who don’t like math, and who want to cringe with me, is 105 people. That means we’ll be paying $5100 for 30 people who aren’t even there.

Why are weddings a thing again?

Why Being a Bridesmaid is Costing me Over $2000

Well, over $2500 to be exact.

There were a few comments on my last post about my budget over the next three months about why – despite my otherwise frugal expectations of spending – my bridesmaid budget was quickly draining my networth. Someone said “you do realize you are spending $2500 on being a bridesmaid and that is ridiculous.” Well, I wanted to break out my costs to show you all that it’s not really that ridiculous at the moment. As I noted in my response to that comment – also – my friend has three bridesmaids vs a larger party so all of the items we’re buying we’re splitting 3 ways, which quickly gets expensive. And she already had drama with one of her bridesmaids (having to replace her) so unless I’m going into debt over this I don’t feel comfortable asking her to step out of the wedding or pay less than the other bridesmaids (neither of whom are rich either.)

Bridesmaid Budget

Flights to NY area for 3 events: $1200  ($400 per flight avg)
Bridal Shower Cards, Favors, Games: $100
Bridesmaid Dress: $200 (already purchased)
Bridesmaid Dress Alterations: TBD ($100?)
Bridesmaid Dress: Silver Peep Toe Shoes (required) $75
Bachelorette Party Hotel in NY: $150
Bachelorette Party Activities in NY: $200
Wedding Day Hair/Makeup: $150 (required by bride)
Hotel Nights (2) for Rehearsal Dinner & Wedding: $300
Gift for Bride & Groom: $200
——————————————————-

TOTAL $2625

There are a few items here I could minimize to reduce that budget a bit — I can use frequent flier miles for my flight (but they’re still worth something and tends not to be worth it to use them to fly cross country.) I can hope my dress fits well enough to not require any sort of severe alterations, but these dresses are designed to need alterations, at the very least a serious hem. I can make a stink about the $150 of hair and makeup required on the wedding day but she really wants us to get this done professionally for photos. If I was completely out of cash I’d say something to the bride about it, but it doesn’t feel right. I can skip the bridal shower which I’m sure she’d understand worst case scenerio, but now my plan is to piggyback an old friend’s baby shower the following weekend on that trip, and given I’ll be applying for jobs on the east coast too that week actually makes sense to set up some interviews while I’m there.

The actual bachelorette party in NY is super pricey. We were originally going to do it in Atlantic City which would have been cheaper but the bride really wanted NY so NY it is. I’m looking into ways to keep our budget in check so it’s no more than $300 per person total including the hotel room – as it’s very easy to spend much, much more than that in NYC for a night on the town.

In any chase when I agreed to being a bridesmaid I didn’t realize I’d be out of a job. I also wasn’t thinking necessarily about the costs but how honored I am to be chosen as a close friend of a girl who has indeed become a better friend of mine over the years despite our distance. It’s not like I have a ton of friends asking me to to be in their bridal parties (I was in one other wedding in my adult life — and that one had a ton of bridesmaids and all I had to pay for was my dress with alterations and opted for hair design at the wedding, plus I chipped in heavily for the bachlorette party because her maid of honor was refusing to throw a big party out like the bride wanted. Even that with a hotel in San Francisco did not come to over $600 or so total plus wedding gift.)

I’m not sure what to do now. Adding it all up on paper is a bit scary, especially given the no job situation. Also, if I do get a job and book flights for going back and forth that would be a pain in the first few months at the job. That may very well be what happens but it’s not going to be ideal. Anyway, now you all know why my bridesmaid budget is so high!

 

The Wedding Planner – How Much Should a Wedding Cost?

Weddings are a big business. I’ve been to weddings of all sizes and costs — some small and in local parks — others large in luxury city banquet halls. Looking back on the weddings, besides respective heat from being in a park outdoors with no shade, the actual cost of the event does not influence my own review of the event. What I personally remember most is the love the partners shared for each other, the kind words the family said, and how much fun was had by all.

So why is my own wedding budget suddenly increasing from $30,000 to $50,000? Even $30,000 sounds absolutely ridiculous. I have two very conflicting POVs in my mind at the moment and it’s a challenge to find a balance that makes sense.

My parents WANT to pay up to $50,000 for a wedding, but that doesn’t make it any less ridiculous in my mind. Regardless of how much they pay (and especially if they pay $50k) then it becomes THEIR wedding and not my wedding. At least they’re fairly flexible on some things, but my mother is starting to bring up all the horrific things her mother did at her wedding and, unfortunately, my mother is not the type to think “this means I should not do them to my own daughter” and instead sees this as an opportunity to do the same (*at least she claims she will not force herself onto our honeymoon, which her own mother did.) Continue reading

2014 Budget: Getting Serious

Based on my aggressive financial goals documented here ($500k by 1/1/18), and my 105% increase in monthly rent starting this month (le sigh), I need to stop my shopping trips to the mall and get serious about my budget. The time for fun comes when I obtain a larger percentage of my bonus or if the stock markets start to track faster to goal then planned. Right now, it’s time to be relatively frugal in the first-world-I-still-think-I-get-paid-too-much sense.

Screen Shot 2014-04-20 at 12.10.59 PM This chart documents my budget plan for May going forward. I don’t actually think it’s reasonable but in order to hit my goals I have to focus on sticking to plan. If I force myself I know I can, and my bf is on board with figuring out how to save each month and help me achieve my goals as well. We’re going to start cooking together so it will be interesting to see what sharing household costs 50/50 does for my budget.

This budget plan keeps me above water monthly while also enabling $3k to be invested into the stock market and $1.4k to go to – also stocks – in my 401k. It’s a little off balance because I’ve actually already maxed out my 401k this year, so in reality I’ll be putting $4.4kish into the stock market (Vanguard funds mostly, maybe 80% ($3500) Vanguard (split between dividend growth fund and international fund) and 20% not-too-risky individual stocks for the fun of it. I’d like to get to $10k in my Vanguard funds ASAP to get their lower cost ratios (just turned my mid-cap fund into admiral going from .26% expenses to .1%, woohoo.) Continue reading

The Percentage Budget: How much should the single working woman spend on clothes?

There should be some criminal penalty for allowing me to enter a Nordstrom. The lighting, the quality-made clothing, the hip fashions that should be in my closet — not on the store rack — are too enticing. Luckily, I’m terrified of buying designer items that cost a small fortune, so I only buy items that cost a miniature fortune. Still, they add up, and I feel guilty for buying just about any item.

I wonder how these stores stay in business selling $300 shirts and $400 shoes, where a decent outfit complete with shoes and accessories costs $1000-$2000. While it doesn’t make sense for someone in a lower income bracket to shop at Nordstrom, I have to assume that this type of store and pricepoint would be targeted towards a mid-career professional earning over six figures. Not that I have to actually follow through with their marketing persona, but why can’t I enjoy the fruits of my labor in the form of a Joie blouse or Ted Baker suit? Continue reading

Reverse Income Requirement Calculator

For anyone who has trouble with negotiating salaries and benefits for oneself, it helps to go into negotiations with a full picture of exactly how much the life you want to live (a reasonable life with the cost of living in your area) costs. This doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to make this amount, but it’s important to have a clear idea of what the ideal world would be and you can use this to determine if you need a new job, need a second job to make up for missed income, or if you can possibly negotiate for higher pay at your current position.

While this calculator is not perfect, it’s a start. It takes major budget categories and addresses the total salary required assuming a total of 40% taken out for state and federal taxes. It also takes into consideration a tax-advantaged retirement account (401k), so this helps reduce the total salary requirements (and if a job does not offer a 401k for tax-advantaged savings then it can be considered an addition to the total salary required.)

In order to reach my goal of saving $75,000 per year, assuming $1200 per month rent (50% of the average 1 bedroom in my area) and maxing out my 401k, I need a pre-tax income of around $175k. (*I currently make around $120k with my bonus, so I have a lot of work to do to get to my goal salary.)

What salary would you need to make to live the life you want and still be able to save the amount you would like to save?

February Budget Plan

I need to stick VERY close to this budget in February. I’m maxing out my 401k as fast as possible in 2014, which means I won’t actually see a portion of my paycheck until the end of February, and I won’t see a full paycheck until March 15.

Auto & Transport: $300 (*includes $200 registration)
Bills & Utilities: $100
Entertainment: $500 (two weekend trips)
Fees & Charges: $100 (*includes $85 credit card fee)
Food & Dining: $400
Health & Fitness: $350 (*3 therapy sessions)
Home: $650
Personal Care: $70
Shopping: $200
Travel: $150
===================
$2820 BUDGET
( $3740.34 Remaining cash for February – since I’m maxing out my 401k this month)

March 1 = $650 in bank account for rent; March 15 my paycheck will start appearing in my bank account again.

January Budget & Goals

The first few months of every year I remain gainfully employed, I have one goal and one goal alone: max out my 401k right away. In order to make this possible, I left a chunk of cash liquid in my checking account to help me “survive” the first three months of the year, while putting the maximum amount of my monthly pre-tax income (90%) directly into my 401k.

Thus, assuming 90% of my pre-tax income is $8250, it will take me approximately 2.1 months to max out my 401k. This also helps alleviate the concern that should I lose my job later in the year for any reason I’d be forced to miss out on the opportunity to save $17,500 pre-tax this year. Once I save the $17,500 the next check goes into maxing out $5000 of a Roth IRA (which might not make sense at my current income rate, I need to figure that out, but I always like the idea of continuing to put a portion of my savings into an account where I can tax out all the funds and interest on those funds tax free in retirement.

Continue reading