Before you say, "I do," be sure you say you've looked far and wide for a wedding location you can afford. Your wedding will be one of the most important moments in your life, but you needn't go broke for it to be special.
Did you know that couples spend an average of $35,000+ on their wedding, as per the personal finance website, WalletHub? That's a lot of loot for a one-day affair, but Americans are willing to shell it out for their ceremonies and receptions, from photos to food to venue to of course, saying "yes" to the dress. But starting off your life together shouldn't put you in the hole when you've surely got bills to pay and plans for the future.
Perhaps Americans ought to take a cue from the Europeans. According to Brides magazine, "Americans tend to spend six times as much money on their ceremony and reception as Europeans do." They'd rather save their hard-earned dough on more practical things like a house. Sensible? Sure. Romantic? It all depends on how you look at it.
Because we all know that money matters can create tension and stress. The last things a soon-to-be-married couple need during a time that is supposed to be full of joy and excitement. Brides notes, "42% of women and 32% of men feel overwhelmed by the wedding planning process, which, as you can imagine, puts a damper on the whole 'we're going to spend the rest of our lives together!' idea."
One way to cut down on costs as well as the accompanying stress? Find an affordable wedding location. WalletHub recently released a report – 2018's Best Places to Get Married - where their team of experts, "compared more than 180 of the biggest U.S. cities across 23 key indicators of cost-effectiveness, convenience and enjoyment."
These key indicators of "wedding-friendliness" include lowest (and highest) average wedding cost, number of wedding chapels and churches per capita, number of event planners per capita, number of bridal shops per capita, number of flower shops per capita, number of event spaces per capita, cities with the most attractions, foodie-friendliness, popularity as a travel destination, where you'll find the best (and worst) weather, hotel availability, etc.
Using their unique methodology after compiling their findings, the 182 U.S. cities were ranked from best to worst. The top five cities: Orlando, FL; Las Vegas, NV; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; and Miami, FL all fared well in the various areas WalletHub considered. On the other hand, Bridgeport, CT; Warwick, RI; South Burlington, VT; Worcester, MA; and Juneau, AK ranked at the bottom of the barrel for their failure to meet WalletHub's standards of wedding-friendliness.
Let's get to some specifics. The top-ranking city, Orlando, is full of flower shops. Flowers are a must-have at nearly every wedding. The fresh and fragrant decorations can be pricy, but with so many shops in the area it's all about supply and demand, bringing costs down while still providing floral flair for a beautiful setting.
City number 3, Los Angeles, has plenty of bridal shops all over the city, allowing brides-to-be to price shop and still find a gorgeous gown that dazzles. Although New York City (ranked #9) has the most bridal shops of all cities compared, other factors brought L.A. to a higher spot on WalletHub's list, like NYC's super-high average cost for weddings.
As for the lower-ranking cities, Juneau and Warwick's bad weather caused their spots to plummet, and Bridgeport's high average wedding cost made it an undesirable place for those seeking to spend less. The city with the lowest average wedding cost of all is El Paso, TX, which ranked #29 overall. Texans may "do it bigger" but in El Paso, they manage to count their pennies.
To see WalletHub's full 182-city ranking as well as additional findings, see their full report.
Along with the city itself, the venue in which you choose to tie the knot can be a money-saver too. Nerd Wallet compiled a list of affordable wedding venue ideas for those who want to get hitched without breaking the bank. They offer less-expensive solutions than the average $2,197 spent on a ceremony site and $16,107 on a reception venue, as per The Knot's Real Weddings Study.
Some of Nerd Wallet's suggestions for weddings are libraries and museums, restaurants, boats, and theaters. They also offer advice including choosing an off-peak time (or day of the week) to hold the wedding, having the ceremony and reception at the same location, and trimming the guest list. See more of their money-saving tips.
"For richer or for poorer" shouldn't start out with you in debt. Spend wisely from the get-go and kick off your marriage with money in your pocket.
As anyone who has ever sold a house will tell you, you must prioritize curb appeal. Before a potential buyer even considers looking inside your house, they notice the outside first. Does it attract the right kind of attention? Does it take away from the feel you're going for? If you plan to sell sometime soon, you must think about these things. Here are some landscaping options to increase your home's curb appeal, so you can get the best price on your home.
Extensive Plants and Greenery
A barren front yard won't get you the price you want on your home. So, invest in at least a little bit of greenery to keep the surrounding area from looking too dead. Shrubs and bushes tie the house to the lawn that precedes it, and flower beds bring a pop of color to an otherwise drab structure. You can also strategically plant some trees to improve the overall feel of your home's exterior.
As we mentioned, your lawn is one of the most prominent features of your home's exterior. A patchy, dried-up lawn will quickly drive your home's price way down. Some of the best landscaping options for your home's curb appeal involve improving your lawn for the next inhabitant. Overall fertilization, ground aeration, underbrush removal, proper mowing—all of these lawn care tasks contribute to a greener and more lively area that invites people to see your house, rather than stay away from it.
There's nothing like a broken and disheveled pathway to make someone think twice about buying a property. Just as you want the entryway in your house to be welcoming, so too should the pathway leading up to the house be inviting. The pathway from the street to your front door provides plenty of real estate to get creative with. You don't have to settle for a boring concrete pathway. Consider something more eye catching, like a cobblestone path or intermittent brick patterns, as a way to better welcome potential buyers.
Usable Outdoor Furniture
Landscaping doesn't just involve the ground you walk on; also included are the items you use as extras to the overall look. Outdoor furniture is one such extra that you don't necessarily need but can look quite attractive if done correctly. Staging is important with outdoor furniture. Old, broken-down pieces will only look like more work to the potential buyer. A few comfortable chairs, a bench, or a table with an umbrella really go a long way to improving your outdoor aesthetics.
A good tip for deciding on curb appeal items is to decide what you personally would want to see as a part of a welcoming home's exterior. You don't need to go overboard, but a little bit of forethought could net you quite a lot of extra cash in the sale.
Many people strive to support their community by donating their time or their money. When you find a meaningful cause, you might be quick to cut a donation check. Though it's admirable to be quick to act charitably, you should be wary of several common mistakes made when giving to charity. Being mindful of these mistakes and learning tips for making informed charitable choices can help you make the most out of your generous check.
Acting Quickly Out of Emotion
Mission statements are meant to be compelling. If you're an emotionally driven individual, it's natural to pull out your wallet at the sight of a sad puppy on TV or when informed about food insecurity over the phone. Unfortunately, not all charities are as effective or official as they may seem.
Take your passion for helping others one step further by making sure your chosen charity is legit. Speaking with a representative, reviewing their website and social media accounts, and looking at testaments online can give you a better idea of whether the organization is worth your donation.
Forgetting to Keep Record of the Donation
Don't forget that you can reap some financial perks from giving back! With the proper documentation of your donation, you can acquire a better tax deductible.
If you donate more than $12,400 as a single filer or $24,800 as one of two joint filers, you're eligible to deduct that amount from your taxes. So, when a charity asks if you'd like a receipt of donation, always answer yes.
Donating Unusable Materials
Most charities can utilize a monetary donation—it's the physical donations that usually cause some issues. Providing a local nonprofit with irrelevant materials or gifting them with unusable products are surprisingly common mistakes made when giving to charity.
Always check your intended charity's website for a list of things they do and do not accept. The majority of places will provide a guideline to donating or offer contact information to clarify any questions.
Strictly Giving at Year's End
As more and more people get into the holiday spirit at the end of the year, nonprofit organizations see an influx of donations. While it's great to spread holiday cheer via a monetary donation, it's important to keep that spirit going year-round.
With regular donations, charities can more effectively allocate their annual budget. Setting up an automatic monthly donation with the charity of your choosing can maximize your impact. You can account for a monthly donation by foregoing a costly coffee every once in a while.
Knowing how much you should spend on home maintenance each year is hard to figure out and may be preventing you from buying your first home. The types of costs you'll incur depend on the house you buy and its location. The one certainty is that you should start saving now. Read on to figure out how much to start setting aside based on the home you own.
The Age of Your House
Consider several factors when budgeting for home repairs. If you've purchased a new home, your house likely won't require as much maintenance for a few years. Homes built 20 or more years ago are likely to require more maintenance, including replacing and keeping your windows clean. Further, depending on your home's location, weather can cause additional strain over time, so you may need to budget for more repairs.
The One-Percent Rule
An easy way to budget for home repairs is to follow the one-percent rule. Set aside one percent of your home's purchase price each year to cover maintenance costs. For instance, if you paid $200,000 for your home, you would set aside $2,000 each year. This plan is not foolproof. If you bought your home for a good deal during a buyer's market, your home could require more repairs than you've budgeted for.
The Square-Foot Rule
Easy to calculate, you can also budget for home maintenance by saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. This pricing method is more consistent than pricing it by how much you paid because the rate relies on the objective size of your home. Unfortunately, it does not consider inflation for the area where you live, so make sure you also budget for increased taxes and labor costs if you live in or near a city.
The Mix and Match Method
Since there is no infallible rule for how much you should spend on home maintenance, you can combine both methods to get an idea for a budget. Average your results from the square-foot rule and the one-percent rule to arrive at a budget that works for you. You should also increase your savings by 10 percent for each risk factor that affects your home, such as weather and age.
Holding on to savings is easier in theory than practice. Once you know how much you should spend on home maintenance, you'll know what to aim for and be more prepared for an emergency. If you are having trouble securing funds for home repairs, consider taking out a home equity loan, borrowing money from friends or family, or applying for funds through a home repair program through your local government for low-income individuals.