- Shop for registries on weekends.
- Know when to say “no”.
- Save in a different account from your checking account.
You open your mailbox and there it is, an oversized, cream-colored envelope with a heart stamp. It’s your fourth one of these this year. For the men, it means bachelor parties and flights to your friend’s hometown halfway across the country. For the women, it means bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and then the wedding – which just never seems to be drive-able. You sigh and frantically wonder how you’re going to afford this one?
No matter your gender, the wedding season phase of life is rough on your vacation time, your wallet and frankly, your mental health. There are only so many times you can stomach the question, “When is it going to be your turn?” much less pay to attend everyone else’s turn.
These days, one wedding often means traveling two or three times: once for the bachelor or bachelorette party, once for the bridal shower and then again for the wedding itself. So what’s a 20 or 30-something (who frankly probably already has student loan bills and not the most baller job yet) to do?
Step 1: Start saving (and put it in a different account)
Whether or not you’ve seen the first pictures of your friend’s bling on Instagram or gotten a save the day – wedding season is coming. Maybe it won’t even be so bad this year, but sooner or later, you will be that person with seven different weddings to attend in a three-month period.
Instead of waiting for the panic to set in and then restricting yourself to rice and beans, start saving up now. Even if it’s just one percent of each paycheck, make it a habit and stick it in a savings account. It’s best if the savings account isn’t linked to your checking account. This way, you won’t be tempted to skim off the top when you see your funds are low, but you got invited to a pub crawl. You should also do yourself a favor and make sure the savings account earns at least 1.00% APY. Might as well make your money work for you a little bit.
As time passes and this fund continues to grow, it will be much less stressful to budget for a wedding or pre-wedding event. You won’t need to take hefty chunks out of your monthly paycheck because you have a side account specifically dedicated to celebrating your friends saying “I do”.
Step 2: Try travel hacking
This step should only be considered if you have a strong credit score and are good with credit cards. Don’t be tempted to do this if you’re an avid shopper who would use a credit card to dig into debt.
However, those that know they’ll be spending some quality times on a plane in the upcoming year might want to take advantage of a credit card bonus reward or two. Plenty of credit cards, particularly airline branded ones, offer a promotion to spend a set amount of money (usually $3,000) in a pre-determined time period (usually three months) and you’ll get bonus miles that are good for at least one domestic round trip flight. You can look for similar cards that offer hotel points too.
Some of these cards do come with an annual fee, so be sure to pick one that’s waived for the first year. Also, try to get one that entitles you to one free checked bag – helps save on bag fees for the wedding travel when you’re packing all different kinds of outfits between the rehearsal dinner, reception, and celebratory brunch.
Be sure this isn’t increasing your spending (the credit card company hopes it will) and that you can still pay off the bill on time and in full each month. Otherwise, you just nullified the entire point.
Step 3: Learn how to say no
You don’t have to attend every pre-wedding event. You don’t even have to attend every wedding. If you and the bride and/or groom haven’t spoken (or at least texted) in the last six months – don’t feel guilty sending your regrets that you won’t be able to make it.
Don’t feel strong armed into attending every bachelor, bachelorette or bridal shower either. Sometimes you just need to say no, and your friend will appreciate it even more if you are able to make it to their big day.
Step 4: Shop those registries on holiday weekends
I’ll let you in on a little secret, the places people usually register (Macy’s, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Crate & Barrel) are all stores that do deep discounts on products during holiday weekends. Keep your eye out for advertisements for Macy’s Labor Day, Memorial Day, or Fourth of July discounts. Then, troll wedding registries to see which items happen to be on sale. You might be able to find a $100 priced item for $60 or a $75 one for $50. It’s an easy way to keep a little extra money in your pocket, but also look like a you didn’t cheap out on the gift front. Win-win!
And the earlier you do this the better so a registry isn’t completely picked over by the time you arrive.
Step 5: Pocket the money for your future self
Being in (or attending) a wedding can easily cost you around $800 to $1,000 – which if you include pre-wedding events is actually fairly standard, when you think about hotels and flights for two events, gifts, and formal attire. Multiply that by probably 15 weddings (at least) in your twenties. That’s $15,000 you’ve spent on other people’s weddings!
Or to put it in different terms: if you invested $15,000 and let it sit for 40 years and assumed an 8% return, it would turn into a cool $325,867.82.
As you come up with your own ways to get creative about saving money on other people’s weddings, be sure you’re putting those savings away for your future self. Don’t let the $50 you saved on wedding gifts or the $1,000 you pocketed by saying no to a Vegas weekend bash linger in your checking account. Consider investing it, putting in an IRA or 401k, or tucking it into a savings account for a trip you can finally take that doesn’t involve someone saying, “I do.”