Photo: Edward Cisneros
Congratulations, you’re married! And the wedding planning part of life is finally over! Plus, if you’re lucky, you’re walking away from your wedding with a nice chunk of change. But it’s important to have a plan when you get a windfall like this. You don’t want to find yourself a few months from now with no money left and nothing to show for it.
Of course, how you use the money depends on you and your partner’s goals and responsibilities. But there are some basics that you should focus on when spending (or saving) that money.
Pay Off Debt
I know this doesn’t sound fun. No one likes to pay off debt with gift money. But it’s actually hugely important to pay off your debt if you can! If you have any credit card debt (or debt accrued during wedding planning), you should absolutely put your wedding money towards it. This will help you and your new spouse start your marriage on more solid financial footing. If both of you have debt that needs to be paid down, have a conversation about how you want to split the money. Do you want to split it equally? Do you want to tackle the highest interest debt first? Have the conversation and make a decision that feels good on both sides.
Build Up Your Savings
One of the cornerstones of financial health is having a funded emergency savings account. This account will protect you and your family if there is a job loss, injury or illness, or other costly emergencies. Having three to six months worth of your expenses can prevent you from being evicted, keep you current with your bills, and preserve your peace of mind. When you are joining your life with someone else and increasing your financial responsibilities, it’s even more important to have emergency savings. Even if you haven’t been given enough to fully fund your savings account, it’s important to get it started.
Do Something Fun
Whenever you have a windfall of any kind, you should use a small portion of it to do something fun. Allowing yourself to treat yourself makes it easier (and therefore, more likely) to use the majority of the money on responsible things. Take 10% of the money and buy something you’ve been yearning for, or treat yourselves to a fancy dinner. You deserve it, and your guests would be happy to know that you used the gift on something just for you.
Dan and I have a few different ideas for our wedding money (keep in mind I’m writing this before the wedding, so I don’t know how much we’ve gotten). We don’t have any debt aside from our mortgage, and our emergency fund is fully funded. So, we will use some of the money for our honeymoon, and the rest of it will likely go towards home projects.