Getting married is a wonderful experience. I’ve been married for seven years, and each year was better than the last. I wish Ray and his bride the best as they start off a new life together.
Ray asked for guest posts to tide him over this hectic time. (Good for him!) Since marriage is in the air, I’ll share one newlywed money experience that I wish we had handled a little better. If it looks like I wrote it with Ray in mind, that’s probably true.
Weddings are times of celebration, and with those times come gift registries, gift certificates, and gifts of cash. The amount isn’t really important, but more often than not it’s a small windfall: a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.
All of that money to throw at a brand-new life together! Woohoo!
It’s very easy to get lost in the moment and overspend during the first few months. Now, some expenses may be necessary, especially if both partners are coming out of furnished apartments, or if their roommates owned all the stuff. But in our case, we both already had a bunch of things, and could have made do just fine with most of what we had.
And yes, I know I’m the guy talking. I know that mismatched glasses and plates don’t send cold shivers down my spine the way they do my wife’s. I know she lives in the house more than I do, so she gets to look at our stuff more than I do. What I’ve found, though, is that our tastes have changed, and things that matched our decor then don’t match now. So, all of the stuff that we got rid of, and replaced with “matching stuff,” was only temporary, and we ended up putting away, or giving away, some of those new things.
The bottom line to this story: It wasn’t a devastating mistake to spend our gift money on new house stuff, but we could have been a little wiser about it. Here are a few things I would have done differently if I were to do it over again:
- Plan for the windfall. Have a purpose for whatever money that will come in. If there’s no purpose set aside for the money, when it hits your bank account, it will probably be gone pretty quickly. Being prudent with the windfall will get the (now) joint finances off to the right start, but any planning is better than no planning.
- Wait for the gifts to finish coming in before buying. It will save time (and probably money).
- Prioritize what you’ll buy. Take an inventory of what you both have and where the holes are. The most important things to buy may be far removed from the gifts you receive.
- It’s not a race! Take your time. This serves several purposes. You can get used to your tastes, and find out what trimmings are most important (individually and jointly), and which ones don’t really matter. You can wait for deals and make the money go further.
- It’s (hopefully) an easy first step to spending money together. There’s probably a little cushion with all of the gifts so it should be a fun exercise in trading off, compromise, budgeting, and planning.
Hopefully some of these tips will help deflect a few initial arguments about money. I’ve been married long enough already to know it won’t eliminate all of them, though.
But that’s another bridge to cross. Best wishes! 😉
Thank you John for your generous guest post! If you would like to contribute a guest post as “wedding gift” feel free to get in touch with us. You can email us info [at] financialhighway.com