Spending From Savings

Matt and I have spent the last year or so saving for our wedding.  We’ve deposited our bonuses and tax returns, socked away our “extra” paychecks, and saved all cash gifts for the last 14 months.  Now the wedding is about six weeks away, and we’re tapping into our coffers to pay for the associated expenses.

It sucks.

Every time I have to transfer money from my savings account to pay a wedding-related bill, my heart breaks a bit.

And yet this is exactly what we’ve been saving for. 

I have rejoiced in seeing the balances of our savings accounts go up, up, up.  The next time I log onto my ING savings account, the numbers won’t fill me with joy - instead they’ll be a reminder of the trade-offs I’ve been willing to make to have a certain kind of wedding.

I hope that when this is all over, I’ll look back on the photographs (the very expensive photographs) and think to myself ‘it was all worth it.’  My mind is still reconciling the fact that we’ve basically made a choice between having a great party with of our friends and family vs. having a new deck and fridge

I can talk myself into an appliance or pair of shoes that’s a good value, but I’m having a more difficult time with the wedding and honeymoon.  For those of you who have gone from spendthrift to frugal (or have always been the saving type), how do you decide when it’s ok to spend your savings on an experience?

Stumble it!

21 Responses to “Spending From Savings”

  1. MM Says:

    I totally know how you feel! We’ve been saving religiously for our wedding because it’s important to us that we pay for it ourselves, without going into debt. I love looking at my ING account balance and seeing how much we’ve saved! But now, with the wedding only 26 days away, it’s time to transfer out all that money and start writing really big checks. Egads! Hope it helps to know you’re not the only one!

  2. Sara at On Simplicity Says:

    Since you’re making efforts not to go overboard, I’d bet that all the trade-offs will be worth it. My first instinct is always to pooh-pooh wedding spending, but here’s the honest truth: every penny was worth it. And not because it was “my” day or “the best day of my life” (though it has been).

    It was worth every penny to spend a day surrounded by the people who love us most, who were there in good spirits to celebrate my husband and I as a couple. I wouldn’t have traded a single person to cut down food costs, and I’m glad we have the day documented with great photographs.

    Trading off a house or future security for that? No frickin’ way. But a fridge? Hell yes.

  3. make art every day Says:

    just want to say that as my nine year anniversary approaches, people still talk about what a good time they had at my wedding! and i think it was because we limited it to the family and people we loved most. so don’t sweat the spending now. at least you aren’t going into debt…

  4. jhp2 Says:

    BG,

    I would like to reiterate what the others are saying. You are going to have a once in a lifetime experience. You can always make, and save, more money. I am sure you do not want a do-over on the wedding. And you are giving up relatively little. A deck? A fridge? Not even close. You will get much more value and enjoyment of your wedding. You did the right thing, you saved for it. Now spend it with a well-earned smile.

  5. LittleMissMoneybags Says:

    I am not married so I don’t have the wedding standpoint to come from, but it can be very difficult to choose whether to spend money on an experience or a tangible item. Going out to eat is an experience, and one that’s not always worth it. But going on vacation is an experience, and it’s almost always worth it, even if some tangible items have to be delayed to do so. I think a wedding falls into the vacation category–you’re saving up instead of going into debt, making smart price decisions–let yourself enjoy this!

  6. F2O Says:

    I have to echo what everyone else is saying as well, but from a different standpoint. I was in your shoes about a year ago. It killed me to watch the huge HSBC balance my wife and I had amassed dwindle down to almost nothing. However, since we didn’t change our savings habits after the honeymoon, we made up the “lost” ground very quickly. It only took about 8 or 9 months to get back to where we were. You’ll be surprised how quickly things build back up when you can hit the ground running instead of having to take the baby steps required in the bginning to figure it all out.

  7. JLP Says:

    Yeah, I had a similar experience. Last year my wife and I refinanced our house in order to use the money to fund our kitchen renovation. After we got the check, I transfered the bulk of the money to our GMAC Bank account, which at the time was paying somewhere around 5%. That money collected about $300 or so in interest during the time it was in the account. I have to say it was sad to have to spend it all.

    We have other savings but it’s just not the same.

  8. Debbie M Says:

    For me, having a separate savings account is exactly what makes it okay for me to spend the money (for the appropriate purpose). I think it’s because I act as though it has already been spent. It’s decided that you’re going to have a good wedding, and that it will cost a certain amount of money, and you have that money, so it’s all good.

    That whole thing where you sit around admiring your large piles of sparkly coins, well, that’s not so good. Except insofar as it motivates you to save what you want. (Actually, I’m a big fan of doing the right thing for the wrong reasons because hey, whatever works.)

    Actually, I have a similar problem when I’m thinking about specific budget categories and fantasizing how to maximize one of them, I get disappointed that I have other goals, and vice versa. Donations and renovations and vacations and early retirement are all competing with each other. (Car repairs, house repairs, next car fund–not so much–I don’t feel the need to maximize these nor do I get all weepy-eyed when I pull out money I have in order to replace my tires.)

    Just remember to have fun at your wedding. Eat! Say hi to all your friends! And then start saving for a new deck and fridge, taking breaks occasionally to admire your beautiful wedding photos.

  9. fern Says:

    i guess i’m in the minority here., butu given that weddings easily cost $30K and up, i’m not sure it’s worth the price. I’d rather limit it to 25 of my closest friends and family and have something meaningful, not over the top, then splurge on the honeymoon, which i’d remember more than a big party.

    You can still party with friends/family without making it a big affair. I have never understood why all the fuss.

  10. My Daily Dollars Says:

    We did the same thing; I socked away the money for the wedding in an ING account. It was a little sad to drain that account in the month before the wedding. That said, the day was wonderful! It was just as we had imagined with all our friends and family there. I know that I was able to relax and enjoy it more know we didn’t go into debt to celebrate!

  11. Kristen Says:

    We saved up to pay for our wedding. I don’t think it was as frugal (despite my attempts to keep costs low)as what you’re planning, but it was one great party. Everyone really seemed to have a good time, and we got to share our special day with all of our friends and family. I’m really glad we did it.

    Actually, our guests were much more generous with gifts (ie cash) than we ever expected. We ended up getting back just about what the wedding cost us, so we got to have our big party, and we still have a down payment for a house.

  12. Slinky Says:

    Personally, I don’t save money just to save money. I save it for a reason….and then I spend it gleefully. I’m also more apt to spend money on an experience than anything else. I have actually just transferred $5k into my checking to be a car down payment on Saturday. I then happily changed the name of my savings from car fund to wedding fund. I’ve always been a saver, but I’ve never been huge on stockpiling huge piles of money to no purpose.

  13. Ökenvandring Says:

    A fridge will eventually malfunction anyway…besides, wedding parties are awesome! Party, party! :)

  14. So Cal Savvy Says:

    We just pasted our one monthiversay, and I remember thinking that the month before our wedding was our most expensive! All your emotions are keyed-up and writing checks isn’t easy.

    I think the key to choosing what to spend money on is that with a wedding you’re paying for a certain experience. A beautiful, loving, touching, family-filled, emotional, symbolic experience.

    Yes, you could have bought things with that money, things that you might want (a new deck) or need (a new fridge). However, when you and your husband are holding hands in your twilight years, you’ll remember the great experiences in your life (i.e. saying your vows in front of family and friends) and not the things (i.e. your fridge).

  15. Joe Says:

    A joy filled experience can’t suffer a catastrophe, such as fire, flood, and theft. Things can.

    Just as high seas, wind, and rain can ruin an outside event, so can expectations ruin an experience.

    Spend with joy and reward yourself with a pat on the back because you saved for this spending. Living in this moment is your challenge now.

    Injury, death, and divorce could ruin your married bliss, but a joy filled wedding can’t be ruined.

  16. Colleen in MA Says:

    I have to give thanks for all the pro-spending on experiences advice here. I, too, am getting married in October and just found out today that our catering bill will be higher than expected and it, plus a few other expenses, will push us about 25% above our projected budget. However, that budget was pretty low to begin with (10K). And part of our expenses will be paying for my parent’s hotel because my dad is newly unemployed.

    When we first got engaged, my fiance and I talked about a small, frugal wedding. But when we realized how many friends and family we wanted to share the experience with (45 people each) and how far so many of them have to travel, we realized that we would like to throw a fun party and enjoy the day with everybody.

    My extended family has not been together in about a decade (same as his) and many of my close family haven’t been able to meet family close to him because we’re so spread apart. So I feel comfortable with our decision and overjoyed at the thought of our special day.

    Sure, it will take us a little longer to pay it off; however, it will be paid off in December thanks to 1. our saving for the event and 2. to my freelancing this year. We’ll be able to start the new year fresh and clean and able to save.

    That’s what I’m focusing on right now - not on the big checks I’ll be writing soon!

  17. Julie Says:

    One of the things I think helps with the anxiety of spending from savings is starting a new savings account, even if it’s just a small amount, so that you can have that feeling of addition to counter the feeling of subtraction. I work for ShoreBank, so I recommend an online HYSA at 3.5% interest (http://shorebankdirect.sbk.com/) - with our accounts you can also know that you are investing with a bank that pays close attention to where that money goes - we support socially and environmentally responsible financing.

  18. KH Says:

    I know how addictive it can become to save - my husband and I saved for home improvements while he was deployed, and it hurts a little to have to use the money!

    On the plus side, you’ve earned yourselves the opportunity to have this milestone event. Best of all, you’ve had the discipline to save big - which means you can do it again in the future! Let that motivate you to save up again, this time for that deck and fridge. =)

    Congratulations!

  19. Bekki Says:

    In my opinion, you won’t regret it. The nice thing about money is that you can always get more! However, you (hopefully) only get one wedding.

    My parents had no money to pay for a wedding, and I was still digging my way out of debt when I got engaged. I paid off my debt and had only about 3 months to save for the wedding - I did the whole thing for $3000.

    While it was beautiful for what it was, there are days when I think about the things I couldn’t afford to have in my wedding and it breaks my heart.

    For starters, I couldn’t afford to hire a professional photographer, so I hired a student for $200. Honestly, the photos that my family took came out better than hers. She also used some weird film and as a result, we have no portrain of the two of us. Oh, and she developed them herself and used too much chemical, so now my entire wedding album is melting!

    I think my biggest regret is not renting a hall. We had the reception in the church’s fellowship hall where there was just enough room to get everyone seated for dinner - that meant no dancing.

    It’s been 3 years, and I still regret not getting to have that dance with my dad. My husband has been promising that we’ll have a big anniversary party one day, but it’s just not the same.

    My mother-in-law passed away last May, so whenever we do get to have that party, my husband won’t get to have that dance with his mom.

    Your wedding day is going to be one of the most memorable days of your life. As painful as it is to see that bank account balance shrink, remember that you’re buying yourself a lifetime of smiles. :)

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