Welcome to Dr. Frugal!
Hello and welcome to DrFrugal.com. If you've ever had the unfortunate experience of trying to find information online that has anything to do with money, you know most sites are worthless because they're trying to pawn something. Not here--there's nothing to buy. I've tried my best to only include pragmatic, realistic informtion to help you lead a simpler life by taking care of your personal finances.
Planning your wedding is equal parts balance and budgeting.
On one hand, you want this day to be special, unforgettable and something you'll be talking about for years to come. Finding the perfect centerpieces, piecing together the guest list, deciding on a location and immersing yourself in flowers, food and music sums up a laundry list of preparation that proves both exciting and potentially costly.
The flip side to the hustle and bustle of getting from readying for your wedding and getting to the day itself is trying to pare down and save on costs when you can, without sacrificing on particular aspect or overall theme that could detract from your dazzling day.
You've probably all heard stories from friends, family or chatty coworkers who aren't ashamed to admit they've either planned or attended a wedding that carried a hefty price tag, some even hitting the six figure plateau.
Overspending on a wedding seems like a forgivable course of events, one that can be justified by using phrases like "biggest day of your life," "most special of days" and "one in a lifetime event." Those clichés might be accurate but also easily could blind even the most financially conscious individual or couple into going well beyond their wedding budget.
That is, if they even have one.
One of the biggest missteps moving forward in terms of wedding planning is not going into the planning without knowing what you can afford to spend. As non-romantic as it may be, you and your fiancée really have to think pensively and practically about a number of issues and subsequent question that can abound.
Who is paying for what?
Are parents of either bride or groom chipping in?
What realistically can we afford based on what we have saved or our incomes?
All of those previously touched upon inquiries carry plenty of weight, especially the final one. If you find yourself short on funds, you don't necessarily have to assume that your big day will come up incredibly small by your standards.
A great example as far as saving is finding ways to barter for what you want. Some have suggested if you have a guest on your list that is a DJ, florist or caterer, then ask them if you can exchange a would be gift for their services.
If your wedding is going to include children, talk to the caterer or whoever may be providing the drinks, both alcoholic and non, if there's some leeway as far as cost per person when it comes to food and beverages. Most places will take into consideration children as non-guests.
In addition, the bride and groom might want to pump the breaks when it comes to the guest list as a whole. Make sure you really think through who you're inviting and pair down accordingly. If that means your sister's brother's aunt's cousin can't make the cut, then so be it.
In the end, you can still have that amazing event take place and have it be something you'll always hold near and dear to your heart, without having it extend into years of paying off debt that goes well beyond the honeymoon period.
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A friend of mine sent me a text message a few days ago and said he finally had enough.
He walked out of his job, one he has had for more than a decade, citing that he just "couldn't take it anymore."
He felt great, a sense of relief and couldn't believe how at peace he was with the decision.
And then, the conversation turned from passionate to practical rather quickly.
He realized that he was now a one income family, and that stretching a single paycheck might be a little tougher than having two to draw from every two weeks.
The aforementioned situation happens frequently, whether a person chooses to leave a job or is an unfortunate casualty of cut backs or the dreaded downsizing. In most cases, the person who has opted to either quit or was laid off without any say probably will get down to the business of tracking down a new job rather quickly.
But during the interim, they'll need to make significant changes to their budget, cut back on certain expenses and learn to manage down to the very last penny.
So how does one live on one income comfortably? The key word in that question is "comfortably," as most associate subtracting one paycheck from two equals plain spaghetti dinners and tuna for lunch a reality until a second income floats back to fruition.
But rather than view how you spend money on food as a negative, embrace the idea of eating at home, making dinner and saving money in lieu of restaurant hopping several times per week. In addition to decreasing your food costs, you may want to look into cutting some at home expenses: cable, phone or internet. There's also plenty of people that aren't afraid to broach the subject of negotiating a better interest rate on their credit card bills with their creditors.
Most likely assume that isn't a feasible request, but you'd be surprised how amiable your credit card company can be when it comes to your situation at hand.
Of course, you also realistically have to cut back in places that hurt more than missing your favorite TV show or downgrading that cell phone data plan. That includes curbing your clothing shopping or skipping the idea of overhauling your entire living room set until things ultimately settle down.
The core solution to surviving one a lone paycheck is making pragmatic and prudent decisions with your money, and understanding that things probably will get better sooner than later. But if your money woes tend to linger, you won't languish or find yourself overly frustrated by embracing your situation and implementing changes deemed helpful.
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Who doesn't love to take in a movie on a Friday or Saturday night?
Whether you're watching the latest Hollywood remake or action thriller alone or cuddling up next to someone special for a romantic comedy, the movie is an entertainment staple, something that is easy to do and quite enjoyable as long as you choose a film that isn't a flop.
But beyond achieving cinematic bliss or engrossing yourself in a story you simply can't turn away from, there is one element of the movie experience that is hard to ignore: the cost.
Days of movies costing only a few dollars have been supplanted by $10 per person tickets and a snack bar that is close to having investment bankers stationed nearby, given the rising costs of popcorn, candy and drinks.
So how exactly can you still enjoy your favorite movie, minus the cost?
For starters, maybe you should try to wake up a little early and turn your nighttime movie binge into an afternoon of action, comedy or romance for about half the cost. Plenty of movie theaters also offer weekday specials with discounted rates on food, drinks and tickets.
Who says movies only can be enjoyed on Friday night? Wednesday is looking pretty good at the moment, given your double digit ticket price is cut by 50% or more. If you're still interested in going to the movies once the sun sets, do a little research and reserve a seat in a discount theater or one that maybe doesn't have five screen playing the same movie, and instead still sports a fantastic, remarkable big screen and superior sound, only without the additional charge squarely placed on you.
One huge mistake to make en route to the movies is heading there hungry. Try your best to eat before you go, otherwise your stomach will growl, grumble and turn on your fairly quickly in the midst of act number two.
That will have you rushing for the refreshment stand and emptying your wallet in one fell swoop. Not even your pal Superman can stop this diabolical plot to plow through every last dollar you have to your name.
What Superman might suggest is finding a nearby restaurant or other establishments that might offer discounted movie tickets when you eat there. Dinner and a movie is a classic one, two punch, so why not find a restaurant that not only serves the purpose of eating but also cuts you a break on the price of a ticket.
Hitting the theater is a sure fire way to kill two or three hours but also enjoy the favorite movie of your choice. What it shouldn't be is a $50 or $60 endeavor that leaves you broke for the weekend, and wondering if you would have been better off waiting for it on DVD.
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You spent your entire career working hard and planning for retirement, stashing away cash and investing in a 401K or IRA so that you're golden years have a silver lining.
But as you're calling it quits and embarking on your post work wonderland, you have to be quick to realize that your yearly salary is no more, and hope that what you have saved is more than enough to live on for the foreseeable future.
But ironically, those who believe they have more than enough money to spend once they retire are the ones who find themselves in a little bit of trouble along the way. The biggest mistake most retirees make is assuming they have enough money to last years, and begin spending haphazardly almost as soon as 5'o clock hits on their final day.
Foolish spending on luxury items like a brand new car, a boat or the ever popular youth inducing motorcycle might sound like quite the goodbye to work gift for yourself but would your savings account, retirement plan or pension think the same thing?
This isn't to suggest that buying yourself something special for 20 or 30 years as part of the workforce isn't recommended, but it wouldn't be wise to take a huge chunk out of everything you have saved.
The money you've worked so hard to save for all those years would be better served to invest. If you're not the right person for the job, that's certainly understandable. You'd be wise to find a financial planner or professional to take your money and make it grow, even after you're done working.
A misconception about retirement is that its a time in your life to spend money and that the saving part is done. That is a terribly flawed thought process; you should still continue to amass assets and steer clear of listening to anyone who doesn't do investments for a living.
That includes to friends and family members, the ones who honestly have your best budgeting interests in mind but also may tell you to spend your cash on one vacation after another or swear by a stock they simply can't live without.
Retirees might feel like they have a little extra in the bank to "play" with, but that could get that same group into some serious hot water if one failed investment or loan turns into one after another.
The safe and simple solution is to stick to what got you to retirement in the first place: a propensity for prudent decisions and spending safely, devoid of recklessness.
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Regardless of whether it is on your list of things to change in the New Year or if you've thinking about ways to save, spend smartly or get your financial misgivings in order, money makes the world go round and your head spin constantly.
When it comes to saving money or allotting cash in the right places, you'll undoubtedly hear plenty of the same advice, all of which is pertinent but not always treated as gospel.
The favorite is paying off your credit card debt, which sounds fantastic unless of course you're not in the position to put aside extra money on a weekly or monthly basis.
If you have a little expendable income, you should resist the urge to spend it on new clothes, video games or that expensive television you want but don't necessarily need at the moment.
The key to combating your propensity for spending your cash in all the wrong places is to simply sit down and make a list of all the right ones. Throwing money at credit card debt shouldn't be in lieu of building a savings account and putting aside money in case of an emergency. You need to consciously look at your leftover money and determine an appropriate split between debt and savings, otherwise you'll find yourself in a vicious money circle you simply can't break.
If you take your money and put it all toward credit card debt and your roof needs repaired, you'll most likely turn to that same credit card to fix it. So, the money you think is working for you by lowering your credit balances is quickly replaced by another charge on the card.
Right back to the starting point. The trick is budgeting accordingly and knowing to the penny what you're spending and what you can save.
All of that hard work and pencil pushing will be for naught, however, if you continue to make silly, inaccurate decisions like using a credit card to buy coffee at Starbucks or taking what little savings you have and spending it on a cruise you can't afford.
Those might sound like remarkably inane decisions and you'll likely tell yourself that would never happen to you, but even the most ardent financial planner slips up from time to time. No one is suggesting you shouldn't spend your hard earned money on something fun or exciting but only if you're in the position to do so.
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