How Can Couples Save for Their Wedding and the Future at the Same Time?
These expert-approved tips make doing both simple.
You don't have to put planning for your future on hold while you're in the process of saving for your wedding. We spoke with financial experts Lauren Anastasio and Kimberly Palmer to find out exactly how you can continue working towards your long-term goals while still putting money aside for your big day.
Keep Eliminating Debt and Building your Savings
Anastasio, a certified financial planner with the personal finance company SoFi, explains that you should be taking care of your future before you even begin wedding planning. "Eliminate high-interest rate debt like credit card debt, create a fully funded emergency fund of three to six months' worth of expenses, and make consistent contributions to retirement before putting money aside for a wedding," she says. "You don't want to put your long-term financial health in jeopardy for one day's worth of festivities."
Avoid Credit Cards
Palmer, a financial expert with NerdWallet, says that you should never accumulate credit card debt to pay for your wedding, no matter how tempting it may be. Doing that could continue to drag down your finances for years to come. "Instead, keep your wedding on a budget and use savings to pay for it so you can start your married life debt-free, which makes it much easier to then put money away for future goals like a home or children." Anastasio understands that it may be frustrating to have to make sacrifices when it comes to your dream celebration, but she urges couples to remember that there is a whole lifetime of marriage that comes after the wedding day is over. "Just as taking on new debt to pay for a wedding can delay some of your other life milestones—such as buying a home or starting a family—pushing off important financial priorities like paying down debt and establishing an emergency fund now can be just as detrimental."
Never Sacrifice your Employer Match
If you're cutting corners to try and save money for your wedding, Anastasio doesn't recommend cutting back on your retirement contribution. Instead, she suggests you keep your contribution rate at the highest amount your employer offers to match you at. "For example, if your employer matches up to five percent of your salary, do not lower your contributions to lower than five percent," she says, explaining that trying to put a little extra in your wedding fund is never worth giving up free money. "Most people will need to save about 15 percent of their annual salary for retirement," she says. Explaining that if you've been a good saver throughout your career, lowering your contribution levels is unlikely to throw you too far off course. "However, if you have historically saved much less than 15 percent, decide if you want to be in the position of playing catch-up and compound that by cutting back further in order to pay for wedding expenses."