In Love, In Debt - part 1
My future husband and myself have approximately $120,000 in college loans that we need to repay. We are planning to marry next year but are having a hard time saving to pay for the wedding as are loan payments combined are about $1700 per month. Do you have any information, tips or suggestions for us?
Any hint or hope would greatly be appreciated.
I just recently moved out on my own with my boyfriend of 4 years. Early this summer we decided to get married next October and are paying for the whole thing ourselves. We were doing all right with our expenses and had a few hundred saved until we were in a bad car accident and wrote off my newly leased car. We got a brand new '97 Cavalier for the same price we were paying for the old one which worked out really good but we had to pay a $500 deductible on the insurance plus our insurance went up and extra $30 a month for now but in September it's supposed to go up even more. We didn't have enough save at the time to pay the $500 so we took the rest off of my VISA. Now we are in quite a bit more debt than we were before and we're not sure of what to do. I would like to know if anyone has any suggestions on how we can pay off our debt, pay our expenses and still save to have a wedding in October 1998. Between the 2 of us we make around $1690/mo. We live close to a bus route but I'm the only one who is able to take a bus to work because Chris works most of the time at 7:00am and the bus does not go directly by his work and takes almost an hour to get there. Moving home is not an option nor is getting out of our lease for the car. We are just having a small wedding and not sit down dinner around $3000 should do it. Any help on how to save money and pay off our debt would be greatly appreciated.
Boy, have I been there. I married last year. In the year that we've been married, my husband and I have paid off all of our credit card debt, paid off both of our cars, survived an automobile accident (the other guy didn't have insurance), and are currently working on paying off my student loans. Here's what we've learned, the hard way.
First, saving money:
Now, paying off debt:
Finally, the wedding:
There's so much more that you can do to help cut the costs for a wedding. You can have a big wedding and/or reception without spending too much, it's up to your ingenuity to come up with ideas. The Usenet newsgroups alt.wedding and soc.culture.wedding are great resources if you're looking for ideas.
Good luck! It takes hard work to start a new life with someone, pay off your debt, and plan a wedding. Doing all three at once can be quite daunting, but it's very rewarding.
Call your local consumer credit counseling service ( CCCS ). It's free. They are sponsored by credit card companies. I'm disabled and working part time. Three years ago my dad had a stoke and I had to assume responsibility for all the bills. CCCS helps you with your unsecured debt. Your write to each creditor and tell them you will be paying through CCCS. Almost all my creditors agreed to STOP all interest charges and accept small payments spread out over five years. Each month I send a check to CCCS and they distribute it to those I owe. No more nasty calls and I'm slowing getting everything paid off.
My brother just got married last year for the second time around. There are now 4 kids instead of 2 and of course double the bills from before.
They had a list of all the things they needed for food and they sent out invitations requesting people make a dish to bring for the wedding reception. As the people called with their RSVP's they were informed of what was left on the list of things needed for the reception and were allowed to take their pick. (Now this is just my own thought, but if you are already living on your own, there's a lot of things you already have. Why not just let the people know that whatever else they might want to get for you as a gift come in the form of money to help your new life as husband and wife and pay off the old debts with it.)
The wedding itself was done at a friend's home in the backyard as well as the reception. Instead of hiring a photographer, they simply put those "disposable" cameras on each table and asked if the 'photographer's' at each table would take pictures of things they thought would be memorable about that day. At the end of the day, there was a bag for all the cameras to be tossed in for them to later develop the pictures and have photos of their wedding day.
As for flowers and such, they did most of the arrangements themselves...(They had some really artsy-craftsy friends who did a wonderful job with decorating and floral arranging with extremely simple arrangements. The look was absolutely breath taking!) The dress was made by a friend and everyone who was in the bridal party was asked to wear a tea length dress in certain colors. That way, everyone matched with length and color and could also wear their dresses again.
The bride's dress was made by a relative and the groom wore a navy blue, vested suit. Their children were the flower girls and ring bearers. (Remember, I said there were a lot of friends and family around who were very artsy-craftsy and a few of them could also sew.)
As far as there being a bar or drinks and such, they had sodas in the 2 liter bottles for people to drink as well as sparkling cider and only a few bottles of champaigne and that was only for the toast. It was almost an alcohol free wedding/reception. Safer for everyone and better example to the children there anyway.
You sound young, and your income is fairly low. With a great budget, you should be able to save a lot of money. You really need to write down all expenses, even the 1 can of soda that you brought because you were thirsty. In this way at the end of the month you will know where your money is going, down to the last dollar or so.
The first thing is you should not have bought/leased a new car. You would have been better off if you had bought the car instead of leasing it. Leasing a new car or any car for that matter is usually not a good deal, because at the end of 4 or 5 years you do not have any car unless you choose to buy it. In the case you do not wish to buy it, you loose all payments, when you buy new/used to have the same car for as long as you wish. this is much more cost effective.
The second thing is to write out all of your expenses. If you have money going to lunches, snacks or dinner out, stay home, or brown bag it in a job, park or etc. anything that would be a free time out. Use this money to pay off you Visa and any other charge cards. If there is anything left over, put that into savings.
One person needs to handle the finances, you decide, but keep in mind that the person that spends the least most of the time is the best one for this job.
Put both people on an allowance. this is your/his spending money, and it should pay for gifts, snacks, fun times and etc. Never just take money as you need it. This allowance should be fairly low. Two flowers from the one you love is just as nice as 12. Gifts should be kept small, until your financial situation becomes better. Any allowance left at the end of the month should be put away in a special account. You would be amazed how fast this builds up.
Being $25,000 in debt when my wife and I married, I can understand the dilemma faced by both Tina and Elizabeth! We kept costs to $1,200--and that included the wedding bands. Our main money savers were on clothing, food, and invitations. Regarding clothing, we both wanted something to wear again and again instead of a "one-shot" deal. I bought a nice suit jacket, slacks and a tie and have worn them to every special occasion since. My wife's wedding attire consisted of a dressy cream colored suit bought for $37 at a going-out-of-business sale (down from $120), which she altered to fit like a glove (!), and a satin hat to which she sewed some silk flowers. Simple, pretty, and inexpensive.
We had a sit-down, potluck reception, which the guests enjoyed because they were (1) more involved with the occasion, (2) able to sample dozens of items instead of the usual three or four, and (3) met strangers more easily because they already had something to discuss--their special potluck dish!
Our home-made invitations were folded construction paper (4"x6") with a cut-out "window" behind which was a photo of the two of us. Inside was heavy parchment paper w/ names, dates, etc., glued at the seam. We bought a box of matching envelopes at a print shop, and voila! Most of the little inserts in "store bought" invitations are really unnecessary; most people just throw them away. Same with the other wedding doo-dads (pre-printed napkins, scrolls w/ names & dates, little bags of rice, etc.); don't buy into the commercialism!
We were fortunate enough to have friends donate photography services and all of the flowers as their "wedding gift," which helped tremendously. Maybe you have friends possessing similar skills? Most important in your wedding planning is to keep in mind what the occasion is all about. It's not about looking/acting a certain way on a certain day of the year, it's about starting a new life with someone you love.
Some lenders will allow you to consolidate your student loans. We tried to do this with our student loans but our lenders would not allow it. We've been married for over 10 years and my loan will be paid off in a few months. I can't wait!!!!!! DH's loan will take a while longer. We've paid them faithfully, never missing a payment, even when money was tighter than usual. We figured that we signed the loan papers in good faith and keeping our word was important. We have 5 children and money is still tight, but I think there is much to be said about honoring aggrements.
I do not regret at all borrowing the money I needed to college. I think my educate was worth far more than all the money in the world. It has enriched my live and that of my family. Whatever you do, don't bail out on paying back loan. It only hurts the credibility of future borrowers.
Have a um...'Dutch' wedding. Invite all the guests to a large (good) restaurant, featuring main courses of $18-50 (or moderately pricey for your area..). Their 'gift' to you is that they pay for their own meal(s) and liquor. Run quickly to the nearest thrift shop and buy up sheets/towels/pots and then claim 'we don't need anything!!' The invitation could read: "In lieu of gifts, the couple asks that you join us for fine dining and celebration at Franco's....etc etc"
Have a Potluck Wedding. I went to a cheapie potluck wedding that produced infintely better food than my own catered $32/plate affair!! (Everyone remembers the food at that Potluck....NO one remembers the food at mine!!)
Another alternative: list the expenses you expect, ie: bridesmaids flowers: $18 each. Have your mother(s), bridesmaid(s) put forward this list when they are asked what you would like for a wedding gift. The operative phrase here is: "All they really want or need is a nice wedding <smile graciously>"
Here's what my mom and step-dad did. They got married in a church, which we decorated the night before with ribbon that we bought at the craft shop (which was on sale, of course). Friends of the family belonged to the fire department, so they were able to rent the hall at the fire station. If not, do you know someone who's a veteran? They could try to rent the VFW hall for you. If that still isn't an option, perhaps you know someone who has a big beautiful backyard that could help you plan the reception there. We decorated the hall on our own, and found a decent-priced caterer that came, set up, and my mom was responsible for bringing the heating plates back the next day. We even got to keep the leftovers (which was a big +).
Of course this wedding was made with alot of connections, firefighters for friends, my aunt works at a printing company (which enabled my mother to get a good price on invitations), a friend was an amateur photographer, and my mother even used to work at the bakery where she had the cake made. My mother found her wedding dress during a sidewalk sale, and she made her own veil. The total cost of that was $30. The total cost of the wedding and reception was less than $1500.
You can reduce costs by making alot of things yourself, the decorations, food, invitations (providing you have a printer). You can even ask that instead of people giving gifts, they bring a favorite dish or help decorate and take pictures. I feel that gifts are the thought, not the gift, so bringing food, taking pictures or videotaping the wedding would be an excellent gift.
Boy do we know how you feel! We had $22,000 in credit card debt plus student loans when we married. In order to get out of debt we sat down and made a budget. This is a very strict budget and we stick to it. It helps to get some software that helps you plan categories (we use money mate and it works great). By living frugally and sticking to our budget, in nine months we were able to pay off the $22k and save for a trip to Disneyland. It takes some discipline but it works. Also, living together (after you are married) is cheaper than paying two rents, etc. Another helpful thing would be to consolidate your loans into one payment. Be careful that they don't raise your interest rate though. Call your lender and see what they can do for you.
As far as the wedding expenses go, set a goal and go for it. I wanted to spend aprox. $3000.00 on my wedding (I was paying for it myself also). I saved money by making my own flower arrangements (I bought the flowers half-price during a hobby lobby sale, get their coupons at www.hobbylobby.com), finding a cheap bakery, bought my dress on sale and had only one bridesmaid and let her buy a dress that she liked in the color I wanted. I enlisted lots of friends to help and kept the reception simple, cake, punch, coffee, mints and nuts. I think the reception is what costs the most, so keep it simple. I splurged on things like a photographer and our honeymoon. Those are the things that I remember, I don't think I even had a piece of cake. Don't worry about the small stuff, you won't even notice it! Set your priorities, splurge on the important stuff and skimp on the little things. A good site for wedding savings is Rachel's Wedding Frugality Page email@example.com
--S.O. in Colorado
Editor's note: Rachel Schreckengast is an expert in weddings. She's contributed a number of different articles. You can find them at www.stretcher.com/menu/topic.htm. Look under 'Wedding'.
This is a response to the couple who were looking to find ways to cut down on expenses while getting married in October of 1998. Unless they have a special reason for getting married in October, I would recommend that they postpone the wedding until Jan. of 1999. The very first thing I learned in my federal taxation course this semester is to NEVER get married in the last quarter of any year. The reason is that the so-called "marriage penalty" that married couples face at tax time consumes a minimum of $1,053 per couple per year (which two single people wouldn't have to pay, thanks to current US tax laws). A couple with a calendar year as their tax year would be considered "married" under the law, even if they got married at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31. By postponing the wedding until Jan. of 1999, you would end up saving yourselves at least $1,053 in 1998. That would pay for a good chunk of the wedding!
Even though you'll have to start paying the marriage penalty in 1999, at least you can enjoy being married the entire year before you have to pay for it!
I don't have much to say about getting out of debt besides cutting costs, but the way my husband and I got married for only $1000 was to ask for wedding gifts that actually were applied to the wedding. My husband's grandparents let us use their house for the wedding, my sister-in-law prepared the food, my mother did a little sewing for us and paid for the video, my father paid for the cake and the photographer, my father-in-law paid for the music, my mother-in-law donated a little money, and my husbands aunt who owned a florist shop donated a few bouquets and flower arrangements. Most of these family members would have given us gifts anyway, but this way it helped us have a nice wedding on a low budget.
These two have a serious problem! I hope that is is the combination of a Bachlors and a Graduate or Post Graduate degree! They need to contact their school Alumni department (i.e. law school, Dept. of Social Work, School of Medicine) office and see if they have a loan forgivness program. If they don't, call a professional association that their degree is associated with (i.e. Teachers, Nurses) and ask if they have any kind of loan forgivness program. It may mean that they have to work for next to nothing for a few year, but like with the Teachers program, to work in an inner-city or rural area for a few years to have my loans erased is worth it. It may take a few phone calls, well, a lot of phone calls, but you may hit pay-dirt. Their other option could be to consolidate the loans into one big loan. That will drag the payments out over 25 years at about 8% depending on the lender, but it may make payments more manageable for the right now and they and make extra principle payments as their income increases.
$3000! YIKES! You need to keep your wedding plans in line with your income. There is no law that says you have to provide a meal. It is perfectly acceptable to have a cake and champagne reception. Everyone dreams of their wedding day, and it is hard to put those dreams aside and face reality. If your families are insistent that you invite certain people, they should help pay for the cost of entertaining those guests.
Get your dress used, or borrow one. Hold the wedding and reception in someone's home or yard or a rec room/clubhouse in a family or friend's apartment. Ask a friend to "be" your photographer. Prepare your own food and/or ask friends to bring some. See if any of your friends or family have a knack for flower arranging and ask for their help. Forget about the many little things that don't really add to the occasion like ribbons and matches with your names on them, ring beares and flower girls. Those things are for people with money to burn. Have only a maid of honor and a best man-you are expected to provide gifts for your attendants. Find a friend to make your cake. Music can be done by a friend (or make tapes yourself).
You also could just elope. Saves a bundle, you'll have less stress and headaches. The important part of getting married is the commitment you are making to each other. The rest is just fluff (with the exception of religious cermonies). Then order some of the free catalogs for wedding invitations/announcements from a copy of a bride magazine (go to the library for it), and order announcements.
It sounds like you are both pretty young. Make sure you remember what's important and don't rush it. A big wedding will NOT have any effect on your married life, unless it gets you in debt to start off. Living with someone and dating them are very different things. Marriage actually makes things more complicated for a few years. Good luck for a wonderful future.
The combined loans for $120,000 are more of a debt than most people take on for a home! It must be frustrating to try and start your married life in debt this much. Personally, I would go for an extremely small wedding to avoid more debt. When my husband and I married we had no money and already each had children. We opted for a wedding ceremony in the court house, no reception and no honeymoon (we had to go back to work!) Although this may seem extreme...we didn't have any debt because of it! My other advice to a new couple is to avoid credit card debt. Once you start it is hard to stop! Many communities have counselors that will help you organize your finances. Best of luck!
First, I would get rid of that credit card debt, that is like being on a sinking ship. Your $500 deductible quickly becomes $1000.00 deductible when you are paying interest on it. I don't know what part of the country you live in and I know costs vary so much...but $1600 per month should be enough to live on comfortably. I would prioritize your spending at this point. Set a little aside each week for unexpected bills, always do this first! If a wedding is important to you, than in an effort to save do without in other areas. Suggestions are: (yes, the bus is a good idea) Skip dinners out. We only eat out a few times a year, if that. Shop at yard sales for items, I got a new Weber grill for $3.00, Nike tennis shoes for $2.00, Levi jeans for $1.00... Good luck and stay away from the credit cards!
In an earlier edition a couple wrote asking how they could manage their $100,000(+) student loans. They indicated that their combined monthly payment was about $1700.00/month.
I suggest that they make sure that their loans are consolidated into two individual payments. If this has already been done the next step is to contact their loan company and let them know that they can not make this large a payment. They should than request an Income Sensitive Repayment Plan. With this kind of repayment plan the individual has more power in the decision making process. Rather than being told what you have to pay X amount they are given the power to express what they can pay. If you are given a hassle, put it into writing as a formal request. On the phone they can tell you most anything. But in writing they are more restricted in what they can say. Besides the frontline phone operators often are not empowered to make the big decisions.
Contrary to common belief, student loans CAN be discharged. But this is only after 7 years from the date that they come into repayment.(Laws change all the time, this suggestion could be out of date by the time it could have been of use.) If they anticipate having to discharge them, I suggest that they contact an Attorney that is an expert in student loan cases.
I just browsed through the page, "In Love, In Debt" and one thing struck me. I feel that as a couple, you should NOT combine your student loans. Not to be morbid or anything, if your spouse dies and you have NOT combined your loans, those loans die with your spouse. But if they are consolidated, you are responsible even after your spouse dies. Just a tidbit of advice that I got! My husband and I will owe over $100,000 but will have three masters and a teaching credential between the two of us!
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