Thursday, August 11, 2011

How We're Getting By As Students

Side Note: I'm actively choosing to not share exact numbers for our budget.  Mr. C and I both feel that finances are a highly personal matter, and it feels that we would not only be exposing our own finances, but also both our parents'.  So I'll be talking super generally here, but I hope my tips help!

When Mr. C proposed to me, I was 4 months away from graduating law school, and he was 2 years and 4 months away from graduating from medical school. Needless to say, neither of us were exceptionally wealthy.  In fact, massive-amounts-of-debt is a much better way to describe our financial situation, both then and now.

Personal photo / Just moments after Mr. C proposed

As the immediate jubilation of the engagement started to fade away, and Mr. C and I made a few trips to venues, we realized that this whole wedding business was expensive. And some sacrifices were going to be necessary. But how do you start saving when you barely have any income?
Personal Photo / This is my "Oh, crap!  I graduated without a job!" face

Photo by Cole Effect / Mr. C and I are sitting discussing the intricacies of our finances

We are very lucky that both my parents and Mr. C's parents were willing to help us pay for the cost of the wedding.  My parents are covering about 80% of our wedding budget, 5% from Mr. C's family, so that left Mr. C and I with about 15% of the budget.  Although 15% may not sound like a huge sum, for Mr. C and I, that 15% represents a pretty significant amount of money.

At the time of our engagement, I had an internship where I made a small amount of money and Mr. C still had savings from the year he worked after undergrad.  We decided to limit ourselves on the amount of money we were spending during a typical week on "extras" (coffee, dinners out, drinking, etc.) and that money would be put into a special account.

Tip #1

When you are setting up a bank account, look for special deals!  Mr. C and I were both looking to change banks at the time, so we went in together to set up individual checking and savings accounts as well as a joint checking and wedding savings accounts.  At the time, there was a promotion with the opening of a credit card, which allowed us to deposit $200 into our wedding savings account.  Obviously, being aware of your personal credit and credit score is important before you delve into opening a credit card, but this worked for us.

Tip #2

Online banking is key!  Because there is such easy access to the wedding savings account from my own personal checking/savings accounts, it was easy to slip $2.50 into the savings account when I skipped that cup of coffee.  Otherwise, I can't imagine I would have been very good about actually saving that money.

When we were making purchases for the wedding, Mr. C and I tried to be as smart about shopping as we could.  I signed up for every-freaking-wedding-list ever.  Seriously, I get about 6-7 emails a day from different wedding-deal sites.  Sure, it's annoying, but once in awhile there is a tid-bit that I actually want.

Personal Photo / Sister J and I at the Kleinfeld Sample Sale,
which I found out about through one of those deal emails
Tip #3

Sign up for deal emails, but don't drive yourself nuts with them!  Have them automatically filtered or create a bogus email account so they're not flooding your regular inbox.  But don't forget to check on them, a lot of those deals expire QUICK!

Personal Photo / We found out about the tax-free event
at our jeweler the old fashioned way: snail mail!

Personal Photo / We saved a bundle on our birdcages by
signing up for the Christmas Tree Shop email list

Although this only saved us bits and pieces here and there, it certainly adds up.  And then we had to do what isn't fun for anyone: make sacrifices.  Mr. C and I love to travel, but we haven't been on a big trip since our trip to Costa Rica.  That's a pretty long time for us.  Mr. C and I love to eat out, but we've been cooking more at home, and especially being better about packing lunches.  I really love to shop, but my closet has been looking pretty much the same since the time of our engagement.

Tip # 4

Be realistic about what you can and can't sacrifice.  Although we've certainly limited our spending, we haven't become hermits.  Mr. C and I are social, we have a great group of friends, and we live in NYC.  Often, the things we love to do can be more the pricey side.  But we weren't ready to give that up entirely.  So, we didn't go cold turkey, but we are more careful about our spending.  And hey, this is a great skill we can take with us into the future as well to save for future things, like houses, cars, babies, trips, etc. 

A lot of these tips aren't rocket science.  Some of them are common sense, but from someone like me, who spends a little more than she should, these particular tips were most helpful in saving some cash for the wedding. 

What tips do you think are most important when you're saving up to make a big purchase?  Other than a wedding, what's the biggest thing you've ever saved up for?

1 comment:

  1. These are great tips Jenny, it sounds like you two are extremely on top of things and responsible!