When it came to our wedding, two things were certain; we were going to have a big, fancy party, and we were not going to go in debt because of it. The first thing we did was set a budget. We didn’t know how much weddings were supposed to cost, so I looked up the average price ($20,000 – including the honeymoon) and set it at that. We then decided that we would split that in half and each save $10,000.
At the time, Mike had a job that paid out a good deal of bonuses throughout the year, so his half was basically covered in five months. I, on the other hand, was working at a church at the time, making under $30,000 per year. For me, every penny and every free minute I had counted. With the fear of going in debt and the willpower to work to have the wedding of my dreams, I was able to save my $10,000 in one year. Here’s how I did it.
1. I did the math. Every month.
We picked our date almost exactly 12 months before the wedding, so I divided $10,000 by 12. The total was $833.33, so I set that as the goal for how much to save each month. During the month, I wrote down the total of each deposit I made. At the end of each month, I would add the total of all of the previous months, subtract that from $10,000, and then divide the total by the number of remaining months.
Here’s an example:
March 2014 total deposit of $900
April 2014 total deposit of $850
$900+$850 = $1,750 deposited so far.
$10,000 – $1,750 = $8,250 needed to save by March 2015.
$8,250/10 months left to save = $825
Some months, I saved more than my goal of $833.33. As you can see in my example, that would bring my monthly goal down. While I could enjoy saving less money for at least one month, I kept my goal at $833.33. This helped during months when I did not meet my savings goal.
2. I set my ego aside.
While I don’t think any job is beneath me (or anyone else, for that matter), it can be hard to go back to your high school job – especially when you swore you’d never return. But, that’s just what I did in the summer of 2014. Six years after leaving my job as a lifeguard, a job I held through high school and college, I returned. I will admit, returning to my high school summer job after living a life in the big city (along with the fact that my co-workers were all MUCH younger than me) was a little dispiriting at first, but I had to put my ego aside to do the job. It paid well, gave me time to do other work, and allowed me to work outside in beautiful summer weather.
3. I worked a number of side hustles.
My job at the church was only 30 hours per week, so I had some time to do other work. That summer, I worked six jobs! Along with working a second job lifeguarding, I was able to do freelance writing for three different companies. I made $10/hour at one, $15/hour at another, and $5 per post at another. I also worked at my church as the wedding coordinator for $150 per wedding. Side bonus, I got some great ideas for my own wedding. For any extra cash, I did such random, one-off jobs as website testing and completing surveys whenever they were available.
4. I made the most of my time.
There were days when I was working two or three jobs at one time. My lifeguard job gave me a 30-minute break every half hour, so I used that time to do my freelance writing. I also worked on my freelance projects during thunderstorms or when there were no swimmers at the pool. During my lunch breaks at the church, I did website testing and completed surveys.
5. I sacrificed.
Along with giving up much of my free time, I limited my spending as much as possible. I stopped going on coffee runs, made my lunches instead of eating out, and didn’t add to my wardrobe for a year. We didn’t go out as much on the weekends and instead opted to stay at home or have board game nights with friends. We also rented videos On Demand or from Red Box for $2-$5 instead of paying $10 per ticket at the theater.
6. I saved every cent.
Any money I had left in my bank account the night before payday, I put towards my monthly savings. It may have been an extra $10 or an extra $50. Either way, every penny helped.
Lucky for us, we actually didn’t end up spending $20,000. With others offering to pay for some items, and by cutting reception and ceremony costs, we spent a few thousand less than what we budgeted. And we returned from our honeymoon with no wedding debt!