5 Ways to Budget for Your Wedding

Q: I’m ready to tie the knot, but I don’t know if I can afford a wedding! How can I cut costs without compromising on my special day?

A: You don’t need to skimp on the wedding of your dreams or go deeply into debt to pay for it. By planning ahead, choosing wisely and prioritizing what’s truly important, you can say “I Do” without stressing over wedding costs.

Here’s how:

1.) Start saving now 

Instead of waiting for that special someone to pop the question, start saving now! The average age of marriage is 27 for men, and 26 for women. It may sound crazy but, if you start saving for your wedding when you’re 20, you’ll only need to put away roughly $333 a month. But, if you start at age 26, you’ll need to put away $2,333 a month! You can establish any number of share savings accounts at Insight Credit Union and watch your money grow for whatever purpose you choose, especially a wedding.

2.) Time it right

Think off-season and mid-week, and you’ll save a bundle!

First, consider a winter wedding. You’ll shave thousands of dollars off the venue price by choosing an unusual time of year to get married. Second, think beyond Saturdays. If you can find a church with a vacancy on a Sunday, grab it! Venue prices drop dramatically with just a one-day switch.

You can also opt for a mid-week wedding that precedes a national holiday date, like July 4th. This way, your guests will still be able to enjoy the evening without rushing home.

3.) Skip the cake

A slice of dessert for $2.50 that doesn’t even taste good? Meh, who needs it? Here are some other ideas for the sweets at your wedding:

  • Fake your cake. If you can’t stomach the idea of a cake-less wedding, ask your baker to fake it for you by creating a false cardboard bottom for your cake and only baking a genuine top layer or two. You’ll get the same look without the huge cost.
  • Set up a dessert bar. You can serve hot waffles, brownies or chocolate chip cookies with ice cream, caramel sauce and a selection of other fun toppings. You’ll pamper your guests at a fraction of the cost!
  • Serve a sheet cake instead. Your guests will be happy to savor a slice – even without all that fondant and frosting.

4.) Save on your gown

Save big on your gown by looking for a pre-owned gown on eBay, OnceWed.com or PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com. You can often find a beautiful gown for under $100!

5.) Vary your venue 

Save a ton by choosing a venue that allows you to hire your own vendors. This way, you can shop around for the cheapest caterer, photographer and DJ.

If you really dare to be different, have your wedding in one of these budget-friendly venues:

  • College campus. You might even be able to snag a student discount!
  • Vacation home.  Rent a vacation home and let it serve as your wedding venue, lodging for out-of-town guests and a honeymoon destination for after the wedding.

Already married? Share your best wedding savings hacks with us in the comments!

Financial Planning for Single Parents

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Single parenting brings unique budgeting challenges. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture it costs an estimated $241,080 for a middle-income couple to raise a child to age 18 – and many single parents shoulder that responsibility alone. Even with adequate child support, it’s smart to be proactive about financial matters as a single mom or dad. Here are a few things to think about to get you started.

First, estate planning should be your top priority. It’s essential to make arrangements for your children should something happen to you. Draw up a will, designating a guardian for your children, and a “power of attorney,” giving someone the legal right to make decisions on your behalf.

Second, consider setting up a trust – a legal structure that is overseen by a trustee, in which your assets can be held for your children. Also, ask your employer about disability benefits. Generally, you will receive a smaller income when you claim disability; however, ensuring even partial income is crucial for single parents who don’t have another source of income to cover a gap.

Next, taking out a life insurance policy is equally important. The policy you purchase will depend on your finances. A term policy is the most economical because it offers a straightforward death benefit.
Health insurance is also essential. Premiums may be high, but if you’re uninsured, a serious medical procedure can be financially crippling. Comparison-shop for policies to find one that fits your needs.

Lastly, don’t forget about tax breaks! If you’re a single parent, file as head of household. You’ll pay less and claim a higher standard deduction – you can claim exemptions for yourself and each qualifying child. You also might qualify for the earned income tax credit, the child and dependent care credit, and the child tax credit. Always be sure to speak to a tax professional for the proper procedures.

Whatever your income, it’s important to give yourself a safety net. Put aside a bit of money from each paycheck to set up an emergency fund for car repairs, broken refrigerators and any other unexpected expenses that might come up. Every little bit helps, and we hope we’ve given you information to get your financial planning moving in the right direction.