Wedding Bells and Future Millionaires
How to not f*ck up your early retirement with a “big day”
So it all started with reviewing simple facts.
Yes, her student debt was crushing. No, we would never take money from family (or a bank or credit card company) to throw a party (a better name for a wedding in my opinion). And yes, we did want to do something special, so the cheapest option (courthouse & a party for two) was out.
Then it moved to a re-review of our long term goals. We want to:
- Retire Early (f*ck Uncle Sam’s “retirement age”)
- We want to be sitting on a pile, that pile being at least $1,000,000
To get where we’d like to go, we have to completely commit to conquering the student debt as quickly as possible (aggressively, possibly 3 to 4 years of living the “sacrifice now, millionaire later” lifestyle — I really wish that translated into a better acronym than SNML), and making sure our emergency fund was filled to the brim (6–9 months of savings, as one of us [me] decided to go start a FinTech start-up).
If you haven’t already, go read Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” now, as an aside.
But where does that leave us with the whole white dress and open bar plan?
Well, since this event is a “need” (apparently), it requires that we direct a small percentage of our student loan excess payments (if you are unaware of what this means, do yourself a favor and stop only paying the minimum, it’ll end up costing you about 4 times what you borrowed) to our savings goal account with Froogal (www.froogal.us).
How much we need total is the next question.
There are a million ways to play the “how much will my wedding cost game” but the worst one may be to either ask your friends how much they paid (or more likely, how much their folks shelled out) or ask a wedding planner (someone who is likely paid more if the wedding is HUGE).
So that leaves us with the ol’ fashioned way — Excel spreadsheet created by “the planner” (almost every couple has one) that is likely unrealistic and even more likely to be impractical to use when trying to save money for the event.
2020 has brought many things. The ability to say, back in the 20’s, the return of Conor McGregor, and most importantly, the rise of Froogal savings accounts.
With Froogal, you can skip the bullsh*t methods of the past for planning a wedding and honeymoon and get this thang set up for success.
Froogal is built to help you save for life events. And it also gives you hundreds of amazing rewards (hotels, flights, subscription boxes, streaming services, and way more) just for saving with them.
This would qualify as a life event and everyone should be down for free rewards, so the choice is easy.
Once you sign-up, you immediately have access to a number of life events (goals, if you will) templates to kick off your savings plans. In this case, we can go ahead and choose the wedding goal account (the honeymoon is a separate account, as that sh*t is going to be crazy and deserves its own account).
Here’s what the wedding template account looks like (a sneak peek):
Yea, I know, it’s a sh*t ton of line items (otherwise known to non-finance/accounting geeks, stuff to save for).
The reality is, this is likely only the absolute basics of things you’ll need for a classic wedding. In other words, it can get way crazier very quickly.
That being said, have no fear and certainly don’t panic and call a professional planner.
You’ve got this, but it’s going to take a bit of time. Here’s the best way to make your efforts count.
Have the nerdy planner of the couple (or in your family/friend group — they would be ecstatic to help you plan this, let’s be serious) review the various savings items in the template & add any other essentials that you will need. From here, have the planner go through and add cost estimates to the line items that don’t require discussion/mutual agreement. These are things like the marriage license and the cost of haircuts or clothes needed pre/post-ceremony.
Once these basics are done, now it’s time for a preliminary discussion of you & your partner's vision for the big event. The keyword here is preliminary. As someone who has done this entire process, I will adamantly state that you can dream big at this stage (fabulous private beach wedding in the sunset with a luxurious meal afterward) but don’t let yourself fall in love with anything (except your partner that is) until you’ve done the next step.
So after you’ve talked vision, from bachelor/bachelorette events to rehearsal dinner, to ceremony & location, to reception venue, to brunch the day after, it’s time to add a strong dose of reality.
Ask yourself: Which of the various aspects of the wedding do you value the most?
Prioritize your vision from most important (reception at a vineyard) to least important (brunch the day after).
I promise you, this will make what's to come much easier.
Now that you’ve got the vision, the priority, and the cost basics entered, it’s now time to look up (Google is going to be your best friend here) exactly what the priority number 1 vision event (reception in my example, and in my real life) is going to cost.
Google search for possible venues. Check websites for pricing and pay close attention to exactly what the pricing covers (they truly range from everything to a 1-hour window in the back room of the community center without food and drinks). If they do not list the price, you can just go ahead and assume you cannot afford it.
Favorite venue found? Price isn’t absurd? Details of what the price includes reviewed?
Add all of the cost/prices to your Froogal account.
You will quickly see that your savings needs will climb (but that’s exactly the point as now you have a number/goal to save for rather than marching blindly into debt/never retiring).
From here, go ahead and repeat this process for the rest of the aspects (the ones you prioritized) of the wedding.
I recommend completing the entire planning process before inevitably coming to the conclusion that you cannot afford (or maybe you can, but it wouldn’t make sense to burn that much cash when you can use it on the honeymoon) all of your dreams.
I got here. Everyone else likely got here. Some ignored reality and likely borrowed money for this (horrible idea) or went with their hands out to family to pay for this (grown-ups handle their own financial sh*t). But most, including you, are going to take this information and adjust accordingly.
Maybe you don’t need to host a million people (that you haven’t talked to in years), or maybe you can adjust from the all-inclusive private beach to DIY project in a state park. Maybe instead of the very expensive dress, you get a reasonably priced one that looks exactly the same. Maybe instead of expensive food and decorations, you realize that this amazing day is about two people (you and your partner, to be very clear) and the rest is just fluff that we see other people buy in movies but it adds zero value (it literally adds negative value to your savings).
So if you’re still with me (and most importantly, if your partner is still on board for this different frame of thinking), shave off the fluff until you get to the key essentials that are non-negotiable.
A nice dress (at a reasonable cost), room for only your closest friends & family, a unique venue (free is the best price but DIY for decorations/flowers saves a ton), and iPod DJ, and possibly even food you’d eat and enjoy way more than fancy fish & steak (I’m talking pizza, nachos, and other deliciousness).
Do you. Not what everyone else is doing.
Most importantly, get that “total cost” down to a reasonable number that you can save entirely before the actual planned wedding day. This may require postponing but that’s far better than paying the price (literally, with interest) for months/years/decades/afterward. You're better than that.
As a last motivational statement, you will never regret putting in this effort and making needed sacrifices now as you should always remember these are the early steps on your way to being a millionaire (and retiring early).
All the tools you need to complete everything above are available from two sources:
This isn’t rocket science people (although navigating wedding planning with a partner can feel like just about as intense as defusing a bomb) but it will require a little effort.
I can’t wait to hear your stories!
What you’ve just done here is an amazing step on your way to becoming a millionaire one day (and retiring early) as you’ve now planned, reviewed, discussed money with each other, re-planned/scaled-down, and completed your first savings goal on Froogal.
That’s big time and you deserve a beer or glass of wine (or some lovin’ from your pup).
I’ll post updates as I work through my own journey here, for motivation or ridicule, whatever makes you folks happy.