5 Ways to Save on Wedding Costs

If you’re currently planning a wedding, you may be experiencing sticker shock at how much it costs to say “I do.” According to a recent study conducted by online wedding planner The Knot, the average wedding cost is $35,329. And that cost doesn’t even include the cost of a honeymoon, which could add several thousand dollars to that total.

According to a recent article by Buzzfeed, here are 5 smart ways to save on the cost of a wedding:

1. Don’t get married on a Saturday. Most venues charge much less for weddings on Friday night or Sunday, and even less for mid-week ceremonies.

2. Rent a home for the wedding and lodging. A fun new trend includes couples renting a huge vacation home for a few days and throwing a wedding house party. Bring in a caterer for a festive touch, so nobody is stuck on dish duty.

3. Get hitched on campus. Even if you and your fiancé didn’t attend the same alma mater, many universities have beautiful facilities you can rent for a fraction of the price of private venues. They also make excellent settings for photos!

4. Don’t serve a sit-down dinner. Hors d’oeuvres and/or cake and champagne are plenty, especially if you have a night wedding. And honestly, probably no one will miss the chicken or the fish.

5. Get married in December. Most places are beautifully decorated for the holidays, which means you will save on flowers and other decor. *This is true! First Financial’s VP of Marketing got married in December and the couple only needed to provide minimal decorations at the reception, being that it was already beautifully decorated for the season with Christmas trees, wreaths, poinsettias, and the like.

Article Source: Heather Anderson for Financialfeed

3 Ways Money Could Be Hurting Your Relationship

One cause for concern for many is financial issues and how money can put a strain on your bond with your significant other. Here are three ways your finances could be killing your relationship.

Shopping secrets.

Are you spending way more money on yourself than you’re admitting to? It’s good to treat yourself at times (who doesn’t love to splurge?) but hiding it from your partner may cause major tension. If you’re keeping your purchases secret your loved one may think that you’re hiding other things as well. If you feel it’s necessary to keep your shopping habits to yourself, there could be a reason for it. Is your partner worried about your finances while you’re out spending frivolously? Like every relationship issue, communication is key. If there’s something you want to buy, talk about it. If your partner thinks money is too tight for that purchase, respect their feelings and hold back on buying that new handbag until you’re at a place where you both agree your finances are in good shape.

Credit card debt.

Did you enter into your relationship with card debt? If so, make sure your partner knows off the bat how much you’re in the hole. It’s much better to be up front about it than for them to find out later. According to USA Today, the average American consumer has close to $4,000 in credit card debt. Don’t feel bad about what you owe, but be open about your plans for tackling the debt. Talk about the poor decisions you made that put you in debt in the first place and set goals together for setting things right.

Avoiding money discussions.

As mentioned above, communication is incredibly important to a healthy relationship especially when it comes to money matters. Not only is discussing your finances essential but not waiting until you are in a tight spot to hash things out is also key to a solid bond. Maintaining trust and having patience can help your partner feel comfortable being open about their financial habits. How someone spends their money is often a reflection of their priorities in life, therefore it’s always important that you’re both honest so you can make sure you remain on the same page.

Article Source: Wendy Bignon for CUInsight.com

3 Ways to Save During Wedding Season

Spring is here and summer is right around the corner. That’s right everyone: It’s wedding season! To some this is a dreaded side effect of their favorite time of year, but to others it’s something they’ve looked forward to since wintertime. One thing is for sure: a busy wedding season can be downright expensive. If you plan on attending numerous weddings this year, here are a few ways you can save a few bucks.

Buy your gift early.

When it comes to wedding registries, we’ve all seen those items that made us think, “Who in the world can afford to buy them that?” You want to make sure those items aren’t the only ones left when you head to Bed Bath & Beyond. Check out that list as soon as you know it’s available, so you can be sure and secure a gift that’s both awesome and affordable.

Prioritize your invites.

If your sister is getting married 30 minutes down the road, you’re obviously going to attend and possibly even be part of that wedding. If she’s getting married on the opposite coast, let’s be honest, you’re still going to have to find a way to go. But if it’s your cousin getting remarried 3,000 miles away, you may want to send a nice gift and just stay home. Unless every wedding this year is taking place in the town you live in, you may have to make some tough choices so you can spend less money and fit your budget.

Make it a group activity.

If you’re traveling for a college friend’s wedding, you probably have other friends that are going as well. If this is the case, plan ahead. If the wedding destination is drivable and others live close to you, carpool and split that gas bill as many ways as possible. Look for a place to stay on Airbnb that can house you and all your friends who will be in attendance. Nothing like a little reunion party while everyone is together!

Wedding season doesn’t have to be a budget killer if you plan ahead and cut costs where you can.

Article Source: John Pettit for CUInsight.com

5 Ways to Budget Being a Wedding Guest

Wedding season is upon us! When it feels like everyone you know is getting married, it can be overwhelming on your budget. Whether you are invited to weddings of friends, family members, or co-workers, here’s how to stay on budget.

Make a Yearly Budget.

How much can you afford to spend on weddings, parties, and gifts this year? Set a budget and stick to it. If your entire budget for the whole year is $600, then realistically, you may only be able to attend one or two weddings for the year, while still having money left over for other events and birthdays.

It is wise to divide your yearly budget by 12 and save up a little each month. This way you will have money set aside for a future wedding and the expense won’t be an unpleasant surprise to your budget.

It’s Okay to Say No.

It is important to prioritize events in your life, especially if you are on a tight budget or schedule. As much as you might like your co-workers, you don’t need to attend every event they invite you to. This goes for friends you have grown apart from.

There is no need to explain that money is an issue. Instead, graciously decline, saying that you have another commitment that day but that you hope their day is an amazing one. It’s important to tell the couple no right away if you know you won’t be attending, so that they can plan accordingly.

Remember to Count All the Costs.

As a wedding guest, your costs aren’t just the gift you give to the couple. You also have to calculate associated costs like attire, travel expenses, babysitter costs, etc. You might spend $100 on a gift, but a wedding can end up costing you more than double the gift amount after you calculate all of the other costs.

If you are part of the wedding, your costs are multiplied, considering the costs of wedding party attire, alterations, make up, hair, and all of the wedding events you are required to attend, such as showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties. Only assume the financial responsibility for close friends and family members if money is a concern.

Contribute to Group Gifts.

Try to contribute to a group gift if you can’t afford to give a large gift by yourself. Not only will you save money, but you will help fund a gift the couple really wants. This is an especially good idea for co-workers, since many people will feel obliged to give a gift but will want to save money.

DIY Gifts – Please Don’t.

While DIY projects save a lot of money in other areas of your life, it is probably best to give even a small amount of money or gift card – rather than risking a handmade gift. Obviously there are exceptions to this rule, like if you are extremely talented or the couple requests a handmade gift.

If you plan ahead and save a little at a time, sticking to your wedding guest budget will be a no brainer!

Article Source: Ashley Eneriz for MoneyNing.com

13 Money Tips for Married Couples

Fotolia_48240524_Subscription_XXL-2-Copy-1024x683Marriage brings both happy times and not so happy times – with most troubles stemming from financial issues, there are ways to get through them. For the 70 percent of people who will be married at some point in their lives, financial advisors say there many ways to benefit from the power of two. Here is a list of their best financial advice for married couples.

1. Talk openly about money even before you marry. “As soon you are married, or even before you get married, you should start talking about your goals and financial assets,” says Derek Gabrielsen, a wealth advisor with Strategic Wealth Partners in Seven Hills, Ohio.

2. Define shared goals. “You talk about building a life together – buying a home, having children, their college education and how you will protect each other’s health care and retirement,” says Diane Pearson, personal chief financial officer of Legend Financial Advisors Inc. “Financial planning might not be romantic, but there is some peace of mind in sharing the same goals.”

3. Stay in harmony with your shared financial plan. “A financial plan is just the starting point. Life happens and you need to make adjustments,” Gabrielsen says. A financial plan can serve as a reminder of what your big goals are and how to reach them. Financial planners can also act as intermediaries on tough financial questions.

4. Share costs. From home purchases to food shopping, there are efficiencies. By combining savings, couples can qualify for lower fees on bank transactions and retirement accounts. Account management fees typically fall below 1 percent a year for people with combined accounts of $250,000 to $500,000, and can be up to 2 percent for smaller accounts. Checking and personal loan fees can also be combined for significant savings.

5. Communicate about what you need. Women need to be more confident so they can engage in discussions about investing for retirement which recently issued a study on affluent women that shows low levels of participation. While 90 percent of the women surveyed said financial expertise matters, only 40 percent are confident that they have any, and fewer than half wanted to build their knowledge. Couples need to plan together, and women are too inclined to stay on the sidelines.

6. Pool long-term assets for maximum growth and safety. When you pool resources, you have more for down payments, better access to credit and you can invest more in growth opportunities, Pearson says. For homeowners, joint ownership can also add a layer of protection from creditors.

7. Share goals and diversify assets. “The more you have invested together, the more creative you can be in your asset mix,” Gabrielsen says. “It means you can diversify more widely to protect against risk if you combine assets. To get the most out of it, you need to coordinate both spouses’ holdings into one nest egg.” With a larger pool of money, “you have the leeway to add a few growth stocks with upside that you might not put in a smaller account,” he says.

8. Take advantage of tax benefits. “You might pay a bit more in income tax going from single to married, but there is a savings in taxes overall,” says Popovich, an expert on financial issues in same-sex marriages. In the case of the estate tax, couples can transfer $5 million to each other tax-free. “The ability to transfer assets to each other is really important,” he says.

9. Respect each other’s money skills. “Couples rarely have the same financial expertise, and it’s not always men who have more,” Pearson says. “The spouse with skills can lead. One might focus on day-to-day bill paying and cash flow, the other on investing. But both need to be involved with decisions or it can lead to bitterness.”

10. Support each other through ups and downs. “Spouses can really do a lot to take the pressure off each other,” Gabrielsen says. Women have moved near equality to men in terms of income and in a recent survey, they out-earned their male spouses.

11. Don’t give up on communication, even in a separation. An acrimonious divorce can be costly for both partners. Some people think they can hide income or property. “You really have to go to a lot of trouble to hide assets,” Gabrielsen says. Open communication about financial assets and costs can make the other parts of a split-up easier for all involved.

12. Use flexibility in Social Security and employer benefits. Social Security pays spousal benefits even for those who don’t work. Health care insurance and other benefits are useful, even when both spouses have their own. “Couples don’t always have the same time table for retirement,” Gabrielsen says. “They enjoy more flexibility when it comes to staggering their retirements, and I know a lot of boomers doing that.”

13. Perform regular financial checkups. “I find it very rare for couples who just want to go off and each do their own thing financially,” Pearson says. “Most people want to find a financial path and want stay on it. But it requires communication between spouses, creating a financial plan and updating it when things change.” Although it sounds basic, the Wells Fargo survey of affluent women found that less than half of them have a financial plan.

*Original article source courtesy of Richard Satran of US News.

Important Money Talks to Have with Your Spouse

Two piggy banks fall in loveWhen you say “yes” to tying the knot, you’re doing more than joining hearts and lives, you’re also joining finances. Gulp. For better or worse, if you don’t communicate openly about money matters and work as a team, your marriage can end up in hot water.

Whether you’re married or about to walk down the aisle, here are five money conversations you should have with your spouse:

1. Create your personal financial blueprint: Few newlyweds are fortunate enough to have significant assets to invest and plan for. But with a relatively blank financial slate, two people can chart their vision; make concrete goals, and together gain knowledge to create financial security going forward.

Initiate the discussion by throwing an acquaintance or neighbor under the proverbial bus: “Mark and Pam sure have beautiful cars/clothes/jewelry, etc. Kind of makes me think that they will be forced to work forever to keep up with the interest payments alone!” Newlyweds should seek to educate themselves on financial matters by attending area adult education courses (preferably free ones) and reading financial books (borrowed from the library). Saving and investing that first $10,000 will provide a calm far greater than any 10-day cruise ever could.

2. Before the stork arrives, create a will: A will is needed to name a guardian of your minor child. It is often this difficult decision that causes people to put off creating a will. Without a will, the court will have the final say as to who raises your child in the event of your death.

Initiate the discussion by asking your spouse for their opinion on choosing a guardian. Try not to react negatively if you disagree with his response: “Your mother? That is a lovely thought – she certainly did a fine job with you (psst…go for bonus points). Do you think though, that it might not be an imposition on her because of her health issues, etc.” If you hit an impasse, you can also suggest co-guardians.

3. How should we grow our savings?: Ideally, this endeavor becomes a hobby for you as well as a goal-oriented pursuit. Investigate the retirement planning options that your employer may offer. Don’t have that option? Sit with a knowledgeable financial professional who will discuss various investment class options with you.

The Investment and Retirement Center located at First Financial can do just that! If you would like to set up a no-cost consultation with the Investment & Retirement Center located at First Financial Federal Credit Union to discuss your retirement and investment goals, contact them at 732.312.1500.*

Initiate the discussion by saying something like, “We work hard for our money and I’d like to brainstorm with you and a financial advisor as to how we can make the most of it.”

4Long term care planning: A slower than expected economic recovery coupled with increased life expectancies and ever-increasing costs of medical care has made relying on government funded long term care resources unrealistic.

Initiate the discussion by encouraging your spouse to sit down with a long term care insurance professional. What you are looking for here is a maximum daily benefit that coincides with the cost of care in your area. Don’t be seduced by the 5 percent inflation protection, because the actual cost of care increases approximately 12 percent per year.

5. Insure your estate planning: You’ve done your will, powers of attorney, and health care advance directives, but how can you be sure that your surviving spouse won’t remarry and potentially lose those assets in a subsequent divorce?

Initiate this conversation by pointing to a real life example, if possible: “Isn’t it tragic that Marvin (widower friend) disinherited his adult children in favor of his home care companion? Yes, dear, I know that you would never do this, but what if either one of us developed a dementia-related illness down the road? All bets are off at that point.  Let’s at least sit down with an attorney and see what the options are (i.e. post-nuptial agreement or trust) before we make any decisions.”  

Working together to discuss and come up with a plan for these important money related topics that is right for both of you, will be the key to a happy “financially communicative” marriage.

*Representatives are registered, securities are sold, and investment advisory services offered through CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc. (CBSI), member FINRA/SIPC, a registered broker/dealer and investment advisor, 2000 Heritage Way, Waverly, Iowa 50677, toll-free 800-369-2862. Nondeposit investment and insurance products are not federally insured, involve investment risk, may lose value and are not obligations of or guaranteed by the financial institution. CBSI is under contract with the financial institution, through the financial services program, to make securities available to members.

Article Source: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/03/21/money-talks-to-have-with-your-spouse/.