Weddings are expensive. According to The Knot, the average cost of a wedding in 2017 was $33,391, and that doesn’t even include the honeymoon. Though many couples have the benefit of family to help pay for their nuptials, others go into debt planning their perfect day.
However, there is a third option for the big day: saving up and paying for the whole thing in cash. This is what I am choosing to do.
Read More: Why We Chose a Small Wedding and Big Savings
This past holiday season, my boyfriend (or fiancé, I suppose) proposed. After enjoying some time being newly engaged and wonderfully happy, we started wedding planning by choosing our budget ($30,000). Given each of our family’s financial situations and our dislike of debt, we decided the best route was saving up the cash ourselves, meaning we each had 12 months to save up $15,000, or roughly $1,250 per month.
Thanks to a generous bonus structure and the nature of his work (loosely commission-based), my fiancé is saving his portion simply by reprioritizing his current savings goals and spending a little less each month on fun stuff. For me, the process is a little more difficult. But I have a plan! I will be cobbling together my half of the wedding funds from a couple different sources.
Working 5-10 Extra Hours Per Week
I happen to be an hourly worker with a weekly work requirement of 37.5 hours (7.5 hours per day); however, my workplace is actually open 10 hours a day. I usually take advantage of this flexibility to sleep in or run errands on my lunch break, but now, I am planning to use these extra hours to work a little more for some extra cash. After taxes, working an extra 5-10 hours per week will net me a little under half of my $15,000 savings goal over the next 12 months. These extra hours have the added benefit of making me look better at work, so it’s totally worth it just to wake up an hour earlier each day. I plan to move $100 per week into my savings account for the wedding and then any extra beyond that once a month after all of my bills are paid.
Money earned: An extra $100-$200 per week, or about $7,000 total
More on Saving Up: Budgeting Tips for Couples Who Want to Save Money
Making that ‘5th Paycheck’ Work for Me
Did you know that there are four months in 2019 with five Fridays? For someone who gets paid weekly (aka me), this means there are four months in 2019 where I will receive five paychecks instead of my usual four. Since my monthly budget requirements are met with four paychecks, I plan to save my whole fifth paycheck towards my wedding savings fund instead of spending it.
Money earned: $4,000
Side Hustle: Field Hockey Coaching
Two years ago, I started coaching a local high school’s field hockey team. Though I applied for the job because of my love for the sport and working with teenagers, my head coaching position actually comes with a small stipend. (I thought it was a volunteer position when I signed up!) I have been putting these extra funds towards my retirement the past two years, but this year, it’s all going to the wedding fund. It’s also notable that my stipend is paid as one lump sum at the end of the field hockey season, which makes it even easier to save it all for the wedding. I’m even having my paycheck directly deposited into my savings account.
Money earned: $1,700
Side Hustle: Blogging
My other side-hustle is running a personal finance blog with my sister called Dames in Debt. It’s mostly a money diary for us to keep track and stay motivated as we each pay off our student loans, but it’s also started to develop into a small source of extra income for us both. After costs for the website have been taken out and profits split, I expect to earn a little over $125 per month from the blog. Usually, this income is my fun, “do with it what you will” money, but this year, all of my blog income is going straight into the wedding fund. Like the money from working extra hours, I plan to move $125 straight to savings each month so that I can’t accidentally spend it.
Money earned: $1,200
You Can Do It Too: Match Your Side Hustle With How Much Free Time You’ve Got
Saving All the Extras
I am lucky enough to get gifts from parents and grandparents for the holidays and my birthday each year. Though these gifts are by no means huge, all those $50 bills can really add up. This year, any cash received is being deposited right into my wedding savings fund before it can be spent on anything else.
In that same vein, I am also saving any money earned through my tax refund this year toward the wedding fund. Last year, I received around $300 for my refund, and I am expecting a similar one this year.
Finally, I have a cash-back rewards credit card that I use for most purchases. I pay it off each month and typically apply the rewards towards that monthly payment. This year, I’ll be saving up all of the rewards and applying it towards my half of the wedding costs, since my bank allows members to transfer their rewards to savings. Additionally, I plan to put several of the larger vendor payments on my credit card in order to get the cash-back rewards for those payments too.
Money earned: $1,000
With a little persistence and a lot of waking up on time and not hitting the snooze button, these five strategies will get me to my $15,000 goal from December 2018 to December 2019, just in time for our December wedding date. Though I am hoping we may be able to knock the final total down a little bit through savvy planning, having $30,000 saved and ready to go takes away the stress of not being able to pay a vendor immediately or having to consider placing big purchases on credit without the means to pay it off.
Click through to read about 20 celebrity weddings with outrageous price tags.
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