This time of year is always special for me. Not only is it the month of my birthday, Christmas and New Year, but it is also the time of year that I met my husband all those years ago. Our first dates were Christmas shopping, festive coffee breaks and romantic seasonal meals. We spoke on the phone on Christmas day and we officially became girlfriend and boyfriend on New Year’s Eve. So I always start thinking about ‘us’ at this time of year and how far we’ve come since those early days. When we first got together we were both students so we were on a fairly tight budget, and our dates usually involved a thrifty two-for-one offer, a meal deal or matinée cinema showing, but the lack of funds didn’t stop us enjoying each other’s company!
When we decided to get married back in the early 2000s I remember both of us working hard and frantically saving for a year in order to afford our dream wedding. We put a little money aside from our modest ‘first-job’ salaries into a savings account each month and when the big day came round we were able to afford pretty much everything we wanted our wedding to be. It was a small wedding in a marquee in the garden, with a BBQ dinner and a good old knees-up at the village hall. The cake was made by my mother-in-law and my sister bought us personalised bottles of wine from the local vineyard for the meal – and we still have one or two of these bottles left for special occasions! Our wedding day really was a team effort from all our family and friends so it didn’t end up costing a fortune and we were able start our married life debt-free.
Things were rather different a decade ago and the wedding industry wasn’t such a big deal at the time so I don’t think we would be able to afford a wedding these days. I’ve been to a few wedding fairs this year with friends who are getting married next year, and I couldn’t believe the cost of the venues, not to mention the flowers, cake, invitations, entertainment – the list goes on. If I were getting married today I think I would have the exact same garden-and-village-hall wedding that we had back in the early 2000s and save our money for buying our own home instead!
It can be such a struggle for newlyweds to get onto the property ladder as first time buyers, especially if they have splashed out on their wedding, so I know a lot of friends who have bought their homes first before getting married. That said, it’s not impossible to save for a home of your own after spending out on a wedding, it’s just a case of saving hard and thinking thriftily for a couple of years to get a deposit together. I always say that you live to your means – think about it; you were perfectly capable of living on your slightly slower salary a couple of years ago, so why not tell yourself that you only have the same amount that you used to earn to spend each month? Then you can save all the excess ‘pay rises’ that you’ve been given over the past few years and if you set up an automatic direct debit into a savings account, you won’t even notice the money being stashed away! It all adds up and it won’t be long before you can afford a home of your own. Well, that’s my plan anyway!
You could even make it your new years resolution to stash your cash for a special occasion or new home! Thanks to TSB for the saving and home-buying inspiration behind this post and let me know how you get on with your money goals in 2015, I’d love to hear from you!