Cash Wedding Gifts: The Great Spending Debacle

posted 2 years ago in The Lounge
Post # 2
42135 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

WeddingBells2014:  I don’t think it is fair of your FMIL to state that you should save the money. If the guests hadn’t chosen cash gifts, they would have given you physical gifts which you would be using, not saving.

On the other hand, do you have 6 months of expenses in your emergency savings account? If you don’t, it might be wise to leave this money as is until you can replace it. That will give you the cushion you need in case of an emergency.

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Post # 3
2501 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

WeddingBells2014:  Its $2,000? I would put some in savings then maybe put the rest towards your student loan debt. If you can’t afford to fix or buy a new TV right now just cancel you cable. Then put the savings from that to buy a new computer or save for your trip.

Post # 4
8680 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2014

I might be biased, but if your tv doesn’t work a lot of the time – dump the cable. If you really enjoy tv, pick up netflix – at least you can still watch that on your laptops/phones if need be.

I don’t think you need to save the money for retirement, while I do feel retirement is important, and that you can never start saving too early.. you have plenty of time to save for that in the future.

If you have plenty of emergency savings, I would put it towards your student loan debt – you’ll end up paying it anyway and you’ll save a little bit on interest.

Post # 5
1500 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: Disneyland - January 2016

I definitely don’t think it’s too early to start saving for retirement, and I’m 25. I opened an Edward Jones account for retirement a little over a year ago and I wish I had started sooner. That being said, I don’t think it’s fair to feel pressured to put ALL of your wedding money retirement, and they were meant as gifts and you’re right, you should be allowed to live comfortably now if you have the funds for it. Do you have a savings plan set in place? It need not be a huge one, especially since you’re still paying off loans and such. When I first opened my account it automatically deducted only $20 from each paycheck. It’s not a huge amount, but it got me rolling and now that I’m in a more comfortable place I’ve upped the amount so it takes out more. I think if you started a plan now, even if it’s only taking the minimum amount like I did, your mother would just feel more secure in your ability to plan in the future, and you can spend your $2k (or however much you choose) without feeling like you’re disappointing her.

Post # 6
4402 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

If $2000 is the difference between a bleak financial future and being ok, then I would say that you are not yet fully ok financially. I would save as much of the $2000 as you can. Here’s my opinion on your upcoming expenses, for what it’s worth — in general I think that a lot of things people think they need are really just desires. I’m not saying you have to live like ascetic monks, but if money is an issue, I’d save up a bit more (8-12 months of living expenses at your current level of consumption) before spending a lot on non-necessities :

Right now we need a new television, we are wasting our cable bills as we can’t always get the screen working — don’t buy a new tv if money is tight. Instead, consider getting rid of cable. You won’t miss it.

my computer is on its last leg and I will need a new one learly next year at the latest — if you NEED a computer for schoolwork or something, then yes, get a new one. If you don’t NEED one, I’d wait.

we desperately need a few pieces of furniture for our living room and kitchen — this is a desire, not a need. 

our phones are obsolete and need upgrading next year — again, how obsolete are they? Can they make calls? send and receive texts? Don’t spend too much money on fancy phones (and the accompanying bills) if money is tight. 

I want to take a class at the community college — probably worth it if it will further your career, etc. Will your current employer help pay for it?

we need to take a trip next year for medical reasons — sounds like a non-negotiable; I’d focus on saving up for this.

and we want to start saving for when we start our family and purchase a home — good idea. 

<br />.<br /><br /><br />

Post # 7
681 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

I think paying off your student loans by 2016, and then switching to retirement savings (at 24 years old) is a smart plan, so I wouldn’t worry too much about what your mother says. If anything, I would take a little bit of the $2,000 and put it down as an extra payment on the student loan.  Yay for debt going down!  

Based on your list, saving money for medically-required travel would be my highest priority.  And then I agree with PP, perhaps cancel your cable, buy a new computer, and just get a netflix subscription? Then you’re saving even more on cable and can save up for a new TV that way. 

Post # 8
5081 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: January 2050

Super-frugal queen of budgeting here. 🙂 If your bills are paid every month and you’ve got a good savings cushion, then I’m all for buying some fun stuff like a new TV. Look carefully at that savings though, before deciding how much to spend and how much (if any) to save. You should have at least 3 months of expenses socked away, preferably 6. Not saying don’t spend anything if you don’t have that much saved, but maybe spend some and add some to your emergency fund.

But this part: “Since I am only 22 I feel that there is no rush to start investing.”

NOOOOoooooooo!!!! Now is the best time to start, because with time and compounding interest, $10 put away today could end up worth more than $500 put away in ten or twenty years! If your jobs offer a 401k, USE IT NOW! Seriously, you will not miss 10 or 20 bucks per check, but it will grow over time into a nice nest egg. Especially if your employer matches your contributions, if you don’t take advantage, that’s basically saying “No thanks, you go ahead and keep that $5000 this year. I’m good.”

Post # 9
3667 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I remember a previous post where you were again upset that your mother was making comments on your finances. The way it came across to me was that you had experiences some really hard times financially and your mother was trying to look out for you. Is it possible that her comments are really coming from a good place? If $2000 is make it or break it money, it’s probably not wise to be spending it on electronics or furniture.

Post # 10
988 posts
Busy bee


WeddingBells2014:  While on one hand I truly believe that how you spend the money you received for your wedding is up to you and that you should be able to do so without judgement from your mother (or the bees. ), I also truly believe in saving money whenever you can.

Even before I got to the point about your mother telling you to save it all, I was questioning the use of the word “need” in your list. You need a TV? You need a new computer? You need a phone? I honestly believe the more appropriate verb there would be want. But that’s OK! We all want things to make our lives easier/better/more fun, and how you prioritize electronics is entierly up to you.

However, as someone with a degree in finance, there are a couple little pieces of advice I want to make sure you hear before you make whatever decision you choose:

  • Money that is invested compounds, meaning that the earlier you start putting money in a retirement account, the more it will grow. So, let’s assume that you’ll retire 43 years from now at the age of 65 and can earn 8% interest (it seems high, but is a fairly standard rate to use when talking about long-term investments) and want $400,000 when you retire. If you start investing today, you’d have to put aside $100/month to achieve this goal. If you wait 10 years, you’ll have to put aside $225/month.
  • More than a third of adults have NO retirement savings. They have the same attitude you do about living your life for now rather than saving for later and end up not being able to afford to stop working.
  • If you don’t have an emergency savings account, nothing else should take precedence. If anything were to happen (job loss, accident, illness, etc.) and you don’t have a cushion to fall back on, that new TV/computer/phone isn’t going to be any help

My advice: If you’ve got a comfortabe emergency savings account and have a plan for starting a retirement savings account (with an actual timeline. Be able to say, “I will start putting 10% of my paycheck or $100/month” – or whatever your goal is- by a certain date), then you should feel free to spend a portion on something you want/need for your home. But use at least some to pay down student loans…The sooner those are paid off, the sooner you can move on to things that are important to you, like starting a family.

Post # 11
1927 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

“Since I am only 22 I feel that there is no rush to start investing”<br />

NOOOOO… If you invest in low-fee US market index fund in tax-deffered account and earn the average market historical return (~7%), that $2k will be over $35k when you are 65!  However, if you wait 5 years and then invest that same $2k,  it will only be $25k when you are 65.  Compounding works WONDERS on retirement savings!!

Post # 12
2642 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

WeddingBells2014:  Since I am only 22 I feel that there is no rush to start investing.<br /><br />What?  No!  22 is the PERFECT time to start saving and investing!  The sooner you start investing money the longer it has to accure interest and the more money you will have when you retire.

Having said that, life is all about balance.  You need to plan for the future, but you don’t want to forget to live in the now.  I don’t know what your current financial situation is like, but assuming you have a 3 month contingency fund, then  I’d recommend saving $1000, putting $500 towards student lands, and then $500 to spend now.

If, however, you don’t have much in savings, then I’d put all of it in savings.  You don’t NEED a new TV, or updated phones, or a laptop.  You’d be much better off stashing the extra money away and making sacrifices elsewhere in order to purchase those things.  It sucks, but welcome to adulthood! =(

Post # 13
327 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2014 - The Celebration Farm

I think you should spend the money you received as gifts the way you and your new partner want to. Don’t feel pressured into saving it just because your mother suggested it. If you’re worried about retirement already, maybe put some into a savings account and split the rest among the purchases you’ll be needing. I would start a 401k as soon as you’re able to though. Many employers offer a 3% match on contributions. Take advantage of that while youth is on your side…you’d be amazed at how much of a difference it makes to starting investing at 25 rather than 35…I was anyways!

Post # 14
6450 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

Just wanted to jump in and say that 22 is NOT too early to start saving. I’m not saying that you need to put all $2000 into savings but you really should start saving ASAP. If you do a little research you’ll see how much of a difference even a few years can make.

You don’t ‘need’ a new TV, computer or cellphone so I would put the money towards the medical trip and the class (if it’s necessary). Not sure what furniture is ‘needed’ but I would carefully think about whether you actually need to purchase it now.

FWIW, DH and I had a very strict budget so we could pay off my student loans in one year and any time we got a bonus or cash gift we put it towards the loans, those interest rates are killer! Right now we live below our means so we can hopefully retire early. It’s really all about what your priorities are.

Post # 15
3280 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

If 2,000 is really going to make a difference I’d definitely save it. I’m 21 and we invest several hundred a month so that we can retire and send our kids to college. Pay off your student loans so you’re not wasting even more money with interest. Those are things should be way far down on the list. 

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