Jun 01, 2020

Budgeting for a Big Decision

I’ve been dating the same girl for years now, and I think I’m ready to take the plunge: I want to get married. The only thing I’m worried about is whether or not I can afford it! I’m not sure what kind of help I’d have in paying for the wedding, and I’m also not sure what the rules are for buying an engagement ring (I’ve heard three months’ salary–is that right?). I’m also not sure what the deal is with taxes when you’re married, because I know you can file them jointly, right? In short, I’m not sure what to do financially. Experts, can you help?


What an exciting time this must be for you! While it’s true that getting married involves facing some financial realities, it’s important to remember that one should get married for love–and that financial issues should not be allowed to determine your personal future and relationships.


Still, you had questions–and we have answers. How much you spend on an engagement ring is really up to you, say the crafters at Ashley Douglas, a custom jeweler specializing in engagement rings in Brisbane, Australia. It’s true enough that a traditional rule involves calculating a ring’s price based on your salary. However, the history of this rule is a bit dubious–it was invented by the companies trying to sell you pricey engagement rings–and experts say it’s outdated anyway. Besides, it may not be practical in your case. As you go off into the working world, it may not be feasible for you to begin your career by immediately spending a huge chunk of cash–it might be better, in the long run, to save that money toward retirement or future expenses, helping to ensure a stable financial future for you and your beloved.


On the flip side, this rule should not necessarily encourage you to get engaged while still in college, when your income may be low or nonexistent; while it might seem like a nice loophole, others may not be amused!


Jokes aside, your love–not your ring–is the important thing in this equation. Low-cost options may include a family ring: does anyone in your family have a meaningful one to pass down to you? You could also discuss this matter frankly with your girlfriend, if you feel that would be the right way to approach the subject given your personal preferences, attitudes, and ideas of tradition.


As for the wedding itself, there’s no denying that it can be a pricey endeavor. You shouldn’t assume you’ll get help in footing the bill, but you may be surprised by how much assistance you get from your parents and your future in-laws. This is another thing you can discuss with your girlfriend directly. And there’s no law that says you must get married immediately after getting engaged, so you’ll have time to figure this sort of thing out.


You will indeed have some new financial realities when you get married. You’ll have the opportunity to file a joint tax return, a Long Island tax attorney told us. And you’ll have to consider how to handle income and expenses. It would be wise to talk to a financial advisor and a lawyer before getting married, so that you can decide how you want to handle things like prenuptial agreements and taxes.


But remember: all of these financial concerns are the byproduct of a huge decision that should be made, as much as possible, without money in mind. Your future happiness will depend on a lot of things, but perhaps no single decision will change things for you as much as this one. Consider it carefully, make the best decision for your future, and then go for it–everything else will fall into place, and any tough moments that follow–be they financial or otherwise–will be worth it.


“Oh, Lizzy! Do anything rather than marry without affection.” — Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


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