How to Plan a Wedding on a Shoe String Budget

wedding-322034_640Tying the knot can be a costly endeavor. Some couples are willing to throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars in anticipation of having the “wedding of the year.” Usually the money isn’t even coming out of the bride or groom’s pocket. It’s their folks that go into debt to finance this extravaganza. And for what, I ask you? As an indication of the state of marriage these days, a report released in December 2012 by the Office of National Statistics in the UK indicated that 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce and that 34% of marriages are expected to end in divorce by the 20th wedding anniversary.

So with cockeyed optimism aside, the question remains: why spend a fortune for a wedding that has less than a 1 in 3 chance of surviving? Wouldn’t it be smarter to pare down the costs from the get go and with some of the ‘spare cash’ lying around you can purchase a house or a horse or something that can appreciate over time. Making a sound financial investment such as gold is also a prudent move. Or maybe put the money in a special education account in hopes of spending it to cover your child’s nursery school fees which, down the road, will be more than what you are now paying for your entire marriage ceremony.

So let’s discuss how to make a really nice wedding at a fraction of the expected cost.

We can start with the invitations. This is the first area which can not only save tons of money but offers you the opportunity to use your creative talents. Free online invite services such as Paperless Post gives you allows you to select colors, fonts and styles that can be cutesy or sentimental. After designing the invitation just type in the email addresses of those you wish to invite and send them out. No addressing envelopes, no sticky stamps, no cost. RSVP’s come directly back to you. Set up an excel sheet and voila. An instant tracking system.

Let’s move on to the guest list. Here is where you can really cut costs. I know how much your parents want to impress their friends and simply must return the invite to all those people whose weddings they attended. But it really isn’t your parents’ wedding and I must admit that I am often quite relieved when I am NOT invited to the affair of a good friend’s son or daughter. To still make them feel special, however, several days after the wedding, your folks can take out 20 good friends for a small dinner at a moderately priced restaurant. To give your ceremony a cozy, close-knit feeling, do try to keep your guest list to about 100 couples at most.

Flowers next.  I know this may sound cheesy but today’s ‘fake’ flowers are so lifelike that I’ve seen many a person walk up to one and take a sniff. (They are always so embarrassed when they realize they have been fooled.) Fake flowers are portable and can be moved around from one place to another. And then, they can be taken home forever!! Flowers as showpieces on the tables have given way to more imaginative centerpieces such as decorative candles which add a romantic atmosphere to the tables. Of course, a beautiful single red rose standing proudly in a tall glass vase can never be duplicated.

On to the bridal gown. Most brides will not budge on the topic of their gowns. Many insist on the old fashioned look of the full flowing skirt which converges into the long train held by a bridesmaid or simply trailing along behind her as she walks down the aisle. Others are more modern and will go for a shorter dress, slim and sleek and fitting her to a tee. In either case, my advice is to rent or borrow. Buying a dress to be worn for one night is a terrible waste of money and what will you do with the dress afterwards? I know from experience that ‘saving’ the dress for the next generation may be quaint but it is really not worth it. I kept my wedding dress made of satin and lace for years in an air-tight bag and it still turned yellow!!! It did have some use, however. It became part of the costume collection used during adolescent drama productions.

The pre-ceremony reception can be pared down to a few hot dishes and a selection of salads. Some pastries and drinks round it out. Yes, that mound of chopped liver and brilliant ice sculptures have become passé and have been replaced by selection of multi-shaped crackers and humus dips.

Now to the dinner. It’s difficult to bring down the cost when it comes to food but there really is no need for two appetizers, a choice of 3 entrees and 5 different side dishes. Presenting a choice is a luxury and most guests are happy with the selection you make for them. Dessert is another story altogether. The rule is to never cut back on yummy desserts. These are what people will remember long after the last glass of champagne is downed. Choose at least four or 5 types of pastries- one hot mushy cake and at least 2 chocolate ones-and present them with some cut up fruit on the side and a bowl of chocolate syrup. Coffee and tea should be served separately. Don’t forget the fresh cream!!

There you have it. A fantastic wedding at a fraction of the price. Have a great time!!

Cina Coren is a contributing editor to DailyForex, a website that sponsors FX Academy, an online program for educating traders to the world of Forex.

3 Fun Ways to Challenge Yourself to Save Money

coins-912718_1280Saving money isn’t something that is usually thought of as being fun. But saving money is definitely a necessary part of getting your finances in order. It doesn’t matter if you are saving money for an emergency fund, saving money for an upcoming expense or purchase, or saving money for some other reason. Saving money is one of the most basic personal finance concepts.

But what if you could turn saving money into a game of sorts? It could end up being fun after all! Here are 3 fun ways you can challenge yourself to save money.

Beat the Clock

Have you ever gone on a trip with your GPS device programmed to show your destination? Usually it shows an estimated time of arrival. Whenever I go on a trip and use my GPS I always try to beat the device’s estimated time of arrival feature. (Of course I never risk my safety or the safety of others.) This little game keeps me focused on my trip and striving to make extra progress.

Saving money can be treated the same way. Set up a realistic timeline for when you need to have your money saved up. Then once you have that recorded somewhere, try to beat it. Throw any extra money you come across from side hustling, selling things you own, and doing other odd jobs toward your savings account. It’s always fun when you reach your goal early!

Bet Against Yourself

Betting against yourself can help you financially and in other ways too. Maybe you have a “curse jar”, a “weight loss jar”, or some other jar for a bad habit you want to break. The idea is that whenever you curse, or whatever your vice is, you put a pre-determined amount of money in the jar. This could be $1, $5, or more depending on how motivated you want to make yourself on quitting your bad habit.

After your habit is broken, or more often it it’s going to take while to reach your goal, deposit that money into your savings account, or put it toward a debt you want to pay off.

Find a Competitor

If someone else you know is also trying to save money, or pay off debt, perhaps you could ask them to engage in a little competition with you. Having someone to compete with, no matter the contest, always makes me work a little harder to accomplish my goals.

If you find that you are too competitive, or if you’re not competitive at all, perhaps you can just use your friend to help you stay accountable to your goals instead of competing with them.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a drag. With these ideas you can turn saving money, or paying off debt, into a game that keeps you motivated to work hard on your financial goals.

Have you ever played a game with yourself, or others, to help you reach your financial goals?

Flex-Pay Your Way Out Of Debt

image1Not everyone in America lives with a flexible budget that can accommodate surprise expenses. Senior citizens who are dependent on monthly social security checks are just one of the many groups of people who can be blindsided by emergency repairs or unforeseen medical bills. When seniors are saddled with a bill a few weeks before their check is deposited, they might not have enough money on hand to pay their balance. For those seniors who need a little extra help, small dollar loans can be a blessing.

Short-term loans provided by reputable lending companies don’t require complex financial analysis. They provide a fast and convenient alternative to your bank, which can take weeks evaluating your current finances and credit score. Simply head to your computer and fill out the online application form to see if you instantly qualify. Not too tech savvy? Don’t worry. A direct online lender will also have helpful representatives waiting by the phone should you find it easier to apply that way.

An online lender should take a complex and bureaucratic process and make it simple and understandable. The company you choose should also encourage responsible borrowing habits. The loans they provide should only be considered a bridge between your social security checks, and you should never rely on your loans to make long-term goals. Like any other loan, the money must be paid back according to the contract that you signed. Always remember that you will need to pay back what you borrowed plus additional fees, so never borrow more than you can afford. While most states have Uniform Small Loans Laws (USLL), it’s still up to your discretion to ensure the lending company you choose follows them.

One way direct online lenders can follow these laws is to be a member of the Community Financial Service Association of America (CFSA) and the Online Lender’s Alliance (OLA). Their commitment to lending responsibility should provide you with options regarding your loan. Rather than force you into the same small dollar loan that every one of their clients receives, there should be flexibility regarding the term of your loan. Flex-play installment loans are an example of this. Instead of paying the loan back in one lump sum, payments are made over time according to an agreed upon schedule that fits your financial situation. You can link your payments to the days you receive your social insurance check, so you never spread yourself too thin. To make sure a direct online lender can offer these flexible payment schedules, do some research. Either search their website for information or speak with a representative on the phone. You can get installment loans from MoneyKey and a number of other small dollar lending companies. As a state licensed and secure option, they can provide healthy and responsible loans to seniors.

There are many reasons why you might take out a short-term loan. Being dependent on your social security checks is just one of the reasons why so many Americans are turning to small dollar installment loans. When borrowed from the right company, you can responsibly pay your bills (on time) without consequence.

Excellent Personal Financial Management

purse-758770_1280The Dangers of Excessive Credit

An increasing number of people have come to rely very heavily on a bank overdraft in order to finance their current lifestyle. The problem with such a situation is that it is more expensive, and a considerable amount of money has to be paid in interest to the institution with whom that overdraft has been arranged.

The simple fact of the matter is that it is far better to manage your finances responsibly in order to avoid additional costs which are ultimately only limiting the benefits which could be derived from that income. It is not easy to be in business today because there are millions of businesses that are vigorously competing for the support of the consumer and they will use absolutely every trick in the book such as clever marketing strategies in order to brainwash the consumer into supporting them.

This is why it is so important for the consumer to carefully analyze their own needs and to make wise decisions about the things which are purchased in order to ensure that their money goes as far as possible.

Cultivate a Habit of Saving

Most young people have only one objective, and that is to enjoy their lives as much as they can and to spend all of their income on various kinds of fun activities and inexpensive goods, thinking that they have a lot of time to cultivate the habit of saving. The problem is once someone has conditioned themselves to spend everything they earn, it becomes very difficult to break that habit and therefore, these people will find saving very difficult.

This is exactly why it is so vitally important to cultivate that habit as early as possible in your career. The same thing applies to a comfortable retirement, and so many people think that there is a very long time ahead of them and therefore concerns about retirement are totally unnecessary.

However, it is exactly these kind of people who are very rudely awakened and who suddenly realize that their safety buffer has been wiped out and they still have not made sufficient provision for their retirement. These people are then forced to consider other more radical options to finance their way of living in retirement.

The Safe Haven of Real Estate

Millions of people have this notion that an investment in real estate is a wise and a safe option in order to ensure that most future needs could be sufficiently met. That notion has been comprehensively disproved by the recession of 2008.

In only three years, over 4 million homes have been repossessed, leaving those homeowners with very large financial debts. What does a person do when he has several creditors contacting him frequently in an attempt to collect payment on outstanding debts?

An increasing number of debtors are turning to debt consolidation as a viable option to deal with the many pressures associated with large debts. The one ultimate benefit of debt consolidation is that you are no longer required to deal with 5 or 6 creditors simultaneously, instead, you now have only one creditor who will contact you in order to request payment of your debt.

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How to Plan a Wedding on a Shoe String Budget

wedding-322034_640Tying the knot can be a costly endeavor. Some couples are willing to throw away hundreds of thousands of dollars in anticipation of having the “wedding of the year.” Usually the money isn’t even coming out of the bride or groom’s pocket. It’s their folks that go into debt to finance this extravaganza. And for what, I ask you? As an indication of the state of marriage these days, a report released in December 2012 by the Office of National Statistics in the UK indicated that 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce and that 34% of marriages are expected to end in divorce by the 20th wedding anniversary.

So with cockeyed optimism aside, the question remains: why spend a fortune for a wedding that has less than a 1 in 3 chance of surviving? Wouldn’t it be smarter to pare down the costs from the get go and with some of the ‘spare cash’ lying around you can purchase a house or a horse or something that can appreciate over time. Making a sound financial investment such as gold is also a prudent move. Or maybe put the money in a special education account in hopes of spending it to cover your child’s nursery school fees which, down the road, will be more than what you are now paying for your entire marriage ceremony.

So let’s discuss how to make a really nice wedding at a fraction of the expected cost.

We can start with the invitations. This is the first area which can not only save tons of money but offers you the opportunity to use your creative talents. Free online invite services such as Paperless Post gives you allows you to select colors, fonts and styles that can be cutesy or sentimental. After designing the invitation just type in the email addresses of those you wish to invite and send them out. No addressing envelopes, no sticky stamps, no cost. RSVP’s come directly back to you. Set up an excel sheet and voila. An instant tracking system.

Let’s move on to the guest list. Here is where you can really cut costs. I know how much your parents want to impress their friends and simply must return the invite to all those people whose weddings they attended. But it really isn’t your parents’ wedding and I must admit that I am often quite relieved when I am NOT invited to the affair of a good friend’s son or daughter. To still make them feel special, however, several days after the wedding, your folks can take out 20 good friends for a small dinner at a moderately priced restaurant. To give your ceremony a cozy, close-knit feeling, do try to keep your guest list to about 100 couples at most.

Flowers next.  I know this may sound cheesy but today’s ‘fake’ flowers are so lifelike that I’ve seen many a person walk up to one and take a sniff. (They are always so embarrassed when they realize they have been fooled.) Fake flowers are portable and can be moved around from one place to another. And then, they can be taken home forever!! Flowers as showpieces on the tables have given way to more imaginative centerpieces such as decorative candles which add a romantic atmosphere to the tables. Of course, a beautiful single red rose standing proudly in a tall glass vase can never be duplicated.

On to the bridal gown. Most brides will not budge on the topic of their gowns. Many insist on the old fashioned look of the full flowing skirt which converges into the long train held by a bridesmaid or simply trailing along behind her as she walks down the aisle. Others are more modern and will go for a shorter dress, slim and sleek and fitting her to a tee. In either case, my advice is to rent or borrow. Buying a dress to be worn for one night is a terrible waste of money and what will you do with the dress afterwards? I know from experience that ‘saving’ the dress for the next generation may be quaint but it is really not worth it. I kept my wedding dress made of satin and lace for years in an air-tight bag and it still turned yellow!!! It did have some use, however. It became part of the costume collection used during adolescent drama productions.

The pre-ceremony reception can be pared down to a few hot dishes and a selection of salads. Some pastries and drinks round it out. Yes, that mound of chopped liver and brilliant ice sculptures have become passé and have been replaced by selection of multi-shaped crackers and humus dips.

Now to the dinner. It’s difficult to bring down the cost when it comes to food but there really is no need for two appetizers, a choice of 3 entrees and 5 different side dishes. Presenting a choice is a luxury and most guests are happy with the selection you make for them. Dessert is another story altogether. The rule is to never cut back on yummy desserts. These are what people will remember long after the last glass of champagne is downed. Choose at least four or 5 types of pastries- one hot mushy cake and at least 2 chocolate ones-and present them with some cut up fruit on the side and a bowl of chocolate syrup. Coffee and tea should be served separately. Don’t forget the fresh cream!!

There you have it. A fantastic wedding at a fraction of the price. Have a great time!!

Cina Coren is a contributing editor to DailyForex, a website that sponsors FX Academy, an online program for educating traders to the world of Forex.

3 Fun Ways to Challenge Yourself to Save Money

coins-912718_1280Saving money isn’t something that is usually thought of as being fun. But saving money is definitely a necessary part of getting your finances in order. It doesn’t matter if you are saving money for an emergency fund, saving money for an upcoming expense or purchase, or saving money for some other reason. Saving money is one of the most basic personal finance concepts.

But what if you could turn saving money into a game of sorts? It could end up being fun after all! Here are 3 fun ways you can challenge yourself to save money.

Beat the Clock

Have you ever gone on a trip with your GPS device programmed to show your destination? Usually it shows an estimated time of arrival. Whenever I go on a trip and use my GPS I always try to beat the device’s estimated time of arrival feature. (Of course I never risk my safety or the safety of others.) This little game keeps me focused on my trip and striving to make extra progress.

Saving money can be treated the same way. Set up a realistic timeline for when you need to have your money saved up. Then once you have that recorded somewhere, try to beat it. Throw any extra money you come across from side hustling, selling things you own, and doing other odd jobs toward your savings account. It’s always fun when you reach your goal early!

Bet Against Yourself

Betting against yourself can help you financially and in other ways too. Maybe you have a “curse jar”, a “weight loss jar”, or some other jar for a bad habit you want to break. The idea is that whenever you curse, or whatever your vice is, you put a pre-determined amount of money in the jar. This could be $1, $5, or more depending on how motivated you want to make yourself on quitting your bad habit.

After your habit is broken, or more often it it’s going to take while to reach your goal, deposit that money into your savings account, or put it toward a debt you want to pay off.

Find a Competitor

If someone else you know is also trying to save money, or pay off debt, perhaps you could ask them to engage in a little competition with you. Having someone to compete with, no matter the contest, always makes me work a little harder to accomplish my goals.

If you find that you are too competitive, or if you’re not competitive at all, perhaps you can just use your friend to help you stay accountable to your goals instead of competing with them.

Saving money doesn’t have to be a drag. With these ideas you can turn saving money, or paying off debt, into a game that keeps you motivated to work hard on your financial goals.

Have you ever played a game with yourself, or others, to help you reach your financial goals?

Flex-Pay Your Way Out Of Debt

image1Not everyone in America lives with a flexible budget that can accommodate surprise expenses. Senior citizens who are dependent on monthly social security checks are just one of the many groups of people who can be blindsided by emergency repairs or unforeseen medical bills. When seniors are saddled with a bill a few weeks before their check is deposited, they might not have enough money on hand to pay their balance. For those seniors who need a little extra help, small dollar loans can be a blessing.

Short-term loans provided by reputable lending companies don’t require complex financial analysis. They provide a fast and convenient alternative to your bank, which can take weeks evaluating your current finances and credit score. Simply head to your computer and fill out the online application form to see if you instantly qualify. Not too tech savvy? Don’t worry. A direct online lender will also have helpful representatives waiting by the phone should you find it easier to apply that way.

An online lender should take a complex and bureaucratic process and make it simple and understandable. The company you choose should also encourage responsible borrowing habits. The loans they provide should only be considered a bridge between your social security checks, and you should never rely on your loans to make long-term goals. Like any other loan, the money must be paid back according to the contract that you signed. Always remember that you will need to pay back what you borrowed plus additional fees, so never borrow more than you can afford. While most states have Uniform Small Loans Laws (USLL), it’s still up to your discretion to ensure the lending company you choose follows them.

One way direct online lenders can follow these laws is to be a member of the Community Financial Service Association of America (CFSA) and the Online Lender’s Alliance (OLA). Their commitment to lending responsibility should provide you with options regarding your loan. Rather than force you into the same small dollar loan that every one of their clients receives, there should be flexibility regarding the term of your loan. Flex-play installment loans are an example of this. Instead of paying the loan back in one lump sum, payments are made over time according to an agreed upon schedule that fits your financial situation. You can link your payments to the days you receive your social insurance check, so you never spread yourself too thin. To make sure a direct online lender can offer these flexible payment schedules, do some research. Either search their website for information or speak with a representative on the phone. You can get installment loans from MoneyKey and a number of other small dollar lending companies. As a state licensed and secure option, they can provide healthy and responsible loans to seniors.

There are many reasons why you might take out a short-term loan. Being dependent on your social security checks is just one of the reasons why so many Americans are turning to small dollar installment loans. When borrowed from the right company, you can responsibly pay your bills (on time) without consequence.

Excellent Personal Financial Management

purse-758770_1280The Dangers of Excessive Credit

An increasing number of people have come to rely very heavily on a bank overdraft in order to finance their current lifestyle. The problem with such a situation is that it is more expensive, and a considerable amount of money has to be paid in interest to the institution with whom that overdraft has been arranged.

The simple fact of the matter is that it is far better to manage your finances responsibly in order to avoid additional costs which are ultimately only limiting the benefits which could be derived from that income. It is not easy to be in business today because there are millions of businesses that are vigorously competing for the support of the consumer and they will use absolutely every trick in the book such as clever marketing strategies in order to brainwash the consumer into supporting them.

This is why it is so important for the consumer to carefully analyze their own needs and to make wise decisions about the things which are purchased in order to ensure that their money goes as far as possible.

Cultivate a Habit of Saving

Most young people have only one objective, and that is to enjoy their lives as much as they can and to spend all of their income on various kinds of fun activities and inexpensive goods, thinking that they have a lot of time to cultivate the habit of saving. The problem is once someone has conditioned themselves to spend everything they earn, it becomes very difficult to break that habit and therefore, these people will find saving very difficult.

This is exactly why it is so vitally important to cultivate that habit as early as possible in your career. The same thing applies to a comfortable retirement, and so many people think that there is a very long time ahead of them and therefore concerns about retirement are totally unnecessary.

However, it is exactly these kind of people who are very rudely awakened and who suddenly realize that their safety buffer has been wiped out and they still have not made sufficient provision for their retirement. These people are then forced to consider other more radical options to finance their way of living in retirement.

The Safe Haven of Real Estate

Millions of people have this notion that an investment in real estate is a wise and a safe option in order to ensure that most future needs could be sufficiently met. That notion has been comprehensively disproved by the recession of 2008.

In only three years, over 4 million homes have been repossessed, leaving those homeowners with very large financial debts. What does a person do when he has several creditors contacting him frequently in an attempt to collect payment on outstanding debts?

An increasing number of debtors are turning to debt consolidation as a viable option to deal with the many pressures associated with large debts. The one ultimate benefit of debt consolidation is that you are no longer required to deal with 5 or 6 creditors simultaneously, instead, you now have only one creditor who will contact you in order to request payment of your debt.