Today’s guest post comes fromJesse Michelsen, who is a freelance writer and the creator of Personal Finance Firewall. He’s a married guy with a great wife, couple of baby girls and a passion for life.
Marriage, what a wonderful and joyous occasion! That is what brings me to guest post here. As you all know, Ninja and his honey are on their honeymoon, probably ruffling some sheets in Aruba right about now but there are a few other things that come with getting marriage.
I’m talking about GIFTS! It’s crazy, you get married and if that’s not awesome enough all by itself, people you know and some you probably don’t even know just give you all sorts of stuff! Toaster ovens, blenders, furniture, luggage..it can be just about anything. Not only that, if you aren’t living with your significant other when you get married, you get access to all their great stuff too! They move in with their better than yours TV and their make your friends jealous stereo system. It’s like having a bunch of birthdays all in one…but if you are unprepared to deal with this, you can get pretty wrapped up in the “stuff” and lose track of your financial goals.
What I’m talking about here is lifestyle inflation. Lifestyle inflation is when your situation changes making way for your lifestyle to get bigger and requiring more money to feed. All the wedding gifts, the wedding spending and even the honeymoon can open a floodgate if you aren’t disciplined and can’t get back into your frugal lifestyle after it’s all over.
How do you prepare before hand, and deal with the aftermath once the festivities are over?
Prepare yourself, it’s gonna be great!
Always register for wedding gifts. This is not for the reason you think. Yes, it makes it easy for friends and family to give you exactly what you WANT, but it also helps you take inventory of your stuff and see what you really need. When registering for gifts, don’t just go through the store and scan everything twice that is shiny or makes cool noises. Think about things you really need to get your life started on the right foot. When you get married you have some new needs to take care of, especially if you are moving into a new home together. Make a list of everything you will actually need and register for those things. It doesn’t hurt to register for some fun stuff afterward, but just keep your priorities in mind first.
Inventory his and hers. Before the wedding, make inventory of each others things. (do this together, it doesn’t look right if you are price tagging all your wife’s furniture before you get married…) Appliances, accessories, cars, bikes, things you both need and use all the time. There will always be duplicates. I even know a guy that has a hair straightener that I bet his girlfriend doesn’t know about..so go over everything. Decide on which things you want to keep and move into your new home. I know this is hard, with emotion and sentimentality, but try hard to decide if you will actually use a duplicate or not. Then, you can sell one or the other, before you even move in together so that it doesn’t get forgotten in the move, only to be found years later and thrown away. As a bonus here, the extra money can help pay for some of the wedding expenses.
Dealing with the Aftermath
Even after registering and cleaning out the duplicates from you life, some of your friends and family will get you something you already have. Prepare for this before hand. If you get duplicates of something you did register for, and they are identical, just return one. As for those that are not identical, or if you get something that you already had in your house, you have to make the decision of keeping the better one or profiting from its superiority.
Lifestyle inflation is really tricky to deal with because we all want nice things. As time goes by, you will accumulate so much extra stuff in your life, you will eventually have to upgrade to a bigger house just to accommodate all the junk and the problem will continue to snowball if unaddressed. But if you don’t actually use any of it, what’s the point.
Marriage is the start of the rest of your life; it’s best to start small and keep things under control from that point forward.
P.S. Good luck to you Ninja and the Mrs. You guys are off to a great start. You have had pre-marital counseling (which I wish everyone getting married would take, our countries divorce rate is embarrassing), you have had many discussions about your future with each other and you both have very similar goals. That is a recipe for success!