A good reason to not marry me is that I am not exactly a financial genius. While I’ve always been good at making my own money rather than asking for it (except for when I asked the federal government for $50,000 to go to college with and they were like, “Yes, def,”), paying bills the moment my paycheck dumps into my bank account, and shopping wisely at the grocery store, I am not terribly good at things like saving, planning ahead, or not going apeshit at Sephora on a weekly basis because I have an obsession with becoming a Rouge VIB cardholder as if that will somehow make me better-looking.
So when Joe and I sat down to do a dry run of the budget for our wedding a few months ago, needless to say, my heart fell into my colon. I was stressed. I was stressed to start Googling the real numbers behind this giant, amoebic “wedding” thing I’d convinced myself could cost between just $25 and $60 total if we tried hard enough, and I was stressed that Joe would finally see me for who I really was: a deeply indebted con lady with an incredibly well-appointed liquid eyeliner arsenal, who didn’t know how to save a single penny.
It’s not that we’d never talked about money—during the early days of our relationship, when I was at a soul-leeching job that paid peanuts, Joe would cheerlead me out of teary meltdowns when my checking account dipped into double-digits, over and over again. When we moved into our first apartment together, he, ever marriage material, volunteered to pay more than half of our expenses: he was debt-free, while my loans and lower salary put me at a handicap. And today, now that we’re more or less equal, I love where we stand on money. We’re both independent, hard-working, sometimes foolishly frivolous (me more so with makeup and flatforms; he less so with takeout and in the Playstation 4 marketplace), and off to a great start as life partners.
Unless, of course, I totally blow it in the wedding savings department and he realizes I have the financial skills of an upside-down turtle and leaves me for a woman who has an MBA and more than ten actual dollars to her name. This panic is what I felt when I realized —after lots of Googling, calculating, and factoring in contributions from our very generous families—we were left with a grand savings goal total of about $14,000. Not a big deal. Just almost the price of this decent-ass Italian boat.
Mind you, our wedding is not going to be a Kardashian/West-level affair, with white tigers serving caviar-packed knishes from silver platters strapped to their backs, so please spare me the lectures. This is for a basic, nice, happy wedding, a wedding we want to have, a wedding on a modest farm in a bramblefuck town in Maine, a wedding that will cash in at a grand total of around $25k-$30k, which is just below the national average. We will be sending our families very fancy, Papyrus-brand thank-you cards to express our gratitude for covering the venue, food, bar tab, and photographer. The rest is on us, that grisly $14,000, is on us.
$14,000 divided by one bride and one groom = $7,000 each.
$7,000 divided by approximately 15 months of savings time between the day of my calculations and the day of our nuptials = $466 per month.
$466 divided by two pay periods per month = oh hell nah, fuck this whole thing, let’s elope.
The cool thing about Joe, besides his good bone structure, is that he already has his $7,000, and plenty more, in his savings account, because he works for himself as an independent contractor in a profession that has virtually no overhead and is responsible and doesn’t shop and because life is super good for a white man jk babe love you.
Yours truly, however—not so much. At the time of calculations, I had a cool $88 in my savings, and big plans to blow it all in a puff of purple sparklesmoke at Forever21 for no reason later that week. Now, at press time, I’ve impressed myself as I careen toward the $2,000 mark (checking my privilege every step of the way). Every $150 and $200 savings deposit feels as victorious yet disgusting as a bodily purge: I’m finally managing my money like an adult, but the thing I’m saving for isn’t very...practical. And here we are—the anxiety again. The anxiety that I’m doing my money wrong, and this time, I’m doing it wrong for all my family, friends, and in-laws to see.
Would I be a more comely wife-to-be if I were choosing to spurn the concept of a wedding entirely, instead funneling all of my money toward paying my debts, so that I may emerge solvent and financially spotless on July 16, 2016, the day of my marriage, which would take place in a courthouse, and culminate over frozen burritos and boxed wine with Joe and my parents and a few friends? Would my responsible, thrifty, money-maverick dad be prouder to walk me to the bank to drop the check on my last loan payment than he will be to walk me down the aisle lined with peonies that I paid for with my precious dollars? Am I being stupider than ever with money, even though I’m trying to be more mature than ever with it?
It’s too late to matter. The deposits are down, the date is set, and, by the way, I, an adult woman, really want to do this. I guess part of being mature with your money is having the conviction to go through with the financial decisions you make. That’s the difference between taking out a loan as a knock-kneed 18-year-old with the credit of a gooey newborn duckling, and choosing to work the 50 or 60 hours a week necessary to get the money to buy the stuff to have the special day to celebrate the incredible odds that you and some perfect handsome other person crossed paths one day many years ago and started to fall in love. I’m going to buy this party. It’s the kind of investor I am.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to pay $80 extra on my loans every month. I know now that a little bit can add up fast over time.
Image via Shutterstock.