Getting married is a big investment. Not just the wedding but the time that comes after that. Instead of building up your life you are building one up for two. It is a team project.
We have practiced mindfulness from the beginning. We attempt to be conscientious about how much happiness things bring me, and how I can get equivalent happiness from cheaper things. I become intimately aware of the joy the following give me: biking and hiking and spending time in my basement with friends playing board games and reading library books (this I do not do with my friends).
When I hear people talk about getting married, and wanting to do things small so that they can save money it is more than cheap wedding invitations and more than just saying that you will start off on the right foot. Newly wed life is a unique stage in your married life unlike any other. It can feel like it is the time to splurge on things that you wanted. When in fact it is the opposite. You don't have to avoid the things you want. You just have to plan for and save up for them in advance. It's not about living a reasonable lifestyle, it's about planning ahead.
For example I also put myself in the mindset buy looking at the action. If one year after I buy a luxury car will looking over at the crumbs in the passenger seat be rewarding? Will they damper the experience? Thinking about walking out of work to that nice car which is now just the "new normal", realizing that the marginal happiness it gives me has probably gone down to a pretty low amount by this time.
This can come with maturity or not at all. It really takes an active effort to be able to put your comfort into the background and think if it will make you happy down the road.
It is really a matter of perspective. When I used to have these thoughts years ago I would remind myself of a few things.
- Apartment complexes are filled full of Cadillacs and European vehicles.
- Most intelligent people know when you are living outside of your means. A low income individual driving a Mercedes screams bad decision maker.
- Most importantly you have nothing to prove. If you do feel the need to compete then compete with networth.
The time value of money is important.
Compound interest is important. Living in comfort now may come at the cost of living in comfort later. The decisions a young person makes today are arguably more important than the decisions they make at 55.
Hundreds of dollars wasted today could be tens of thousands of dollars lost when you are playing on the back nine of the golf course called life. And this is a time when many young coulpes are forming. So it is important to practice mindfulness now rather than later.
I like to avoid spending excessive money on things.
If you want a vehicle that costs more, you'll have less money for other stuff. If your vehicle is a bigger gas hog, you'll have less money for other things. Since I'm a home owner, I know most of my money will go into the house and that's okay.
Spending more on your car means less money for other stuff. But using my resources to buy better biking equipment means that I have better health than sitting in a car, it means that I don't have the expense of gas outside of food. And it means that I will own the equpiment outright in less than half a year of normal car payments and insurance.
A lot of people value convenience over making do with what's available. Having a car is easier than looking up bus routes and schedules and planning and the inconvenience of having to wait for anything. A lot of people justify having a car by saying well it's convenient, so there! Which is fine.. but it's not frugal. And even frugal people like convenience. Personally, I think a car is too much responsibility/liability, not just a wallet drain. But most people aren't going to give up their cars by choice.
So what does that mean? It is all fine and good that we can live comfortably, but also within our means.
- No car payment, credit card debt, cable, or memberships to gyms or clubs.
- We buy reduced meats and fresh produce from the cheaper grocery stores.
- We've rented out a spare bedroom and split our utilities 3 ways(extra ~$200 a week).
- We don't drink too much out at bars or the likes, opting instead for beers and bbq at home.
- We've paid off ~$25,000 in student loans in the last 8 months and we are saving for a down payment on a house.
- We've both received promotions and have increased our income dramatically.
- We also have maxed out our retirement options through our employers and are considering investing in company stock options.
This has all taken place within the last five years. This is being mindful of our money and living within our means. Our marraige was importat. The wedding was nice but not over the top. We are more important to one another than spending lare amount of money on a day that most of the guests have forgotten by now. We much rather invest in our future together.
A wedding is a big moment, but it is the first step into a much bigger scope of responsability. And this is the part that I think a lot of people neglect or forget about. And that is a shame.