Ah, weddings. It is just about that time of year. I feel that weddings are a blessing for everyone involved really: the couple, their families, florists. And if you are invited to a wedding, that is an affirmation that you are blessed with friends who think you’re great and want to share with you their most important day. I am happy every time I am invited to a wedding.
But weddings are usually costly: gifts, hotels, travel… How do you work weddings into your financial goals? If life were an engineering project, you could estimate the number of anticipated wedding invitations this year and their costs, as well as their likelihood, and enter this scaled value into the budget as a Risk. If only it were that easy. But I am not likely to make a “wedding rainy day fund” if I am currently building up my own rainy day fund or paying down loans. So how to address the weddings?
I try to participate in weddings to whatever extent I can. While I have been paying off student loans, I have set a simple rule that if I would have to get on a plane, unfortunately I just cannot go. But I still send a gift and a card with a thoughtful message, which I believe is the proper protocol if you cannot make it to a wedding, as well as the friendly thing to do.
But I go to all relatively nearby weddings. That may not be what Suze Orman would advise, as her good point is that your top goal should be truthfulness to yourself and spending below your means. Someone else’s special occasion does not constitute your necessity if you are still in debt of any kind. But I make a special exception for weddings because of their rarity and importance. Maybe it is from my Old World upbringing. Financial choices are different for everyone.
If you absolutely must make it to a wedding but are worried about its impact on your financial goals, you could set up an event-based goal that would help you decide. Wedding “save the dates” are often sent out at least 6 months in advance, and the invitations usually go out 6-8 weeks before the big day. So on hearing of a key wedding, you would have at least 4 months to make and try to meet a “wedding” financial goal before you get the invitation. If you meet the goal, go ahead (but look for good deals of course). If not, sorry, you’re out of luck. Incentive-based financial goals have worked really well for me, so a wedding can be turned into a savings motivator rather than being left as a savings drain.
That is my approach to weddings while working on financial goals. What’s yours?