I’m Never Getting Married

June 24, 2008

I’m 26, so for the past few years, I’ve spent A LOT of time at weddings. I’ve been to three so far this summer, and I’m invited to another in October. I like weddings, mostly because I love free food and dancing, but I’m not really in a hurry to get married myself for a few reasons.

For starters, at my own wedding, the food will most definitely not be free. In fact, it’ll be expensive. And while I love my family and my friends and my longtime partner and would love to feed them all at $150 a head, I’m also a big fan of personal financial solvency.

According to The Wedding Report, the average wedding costs about $28,000, though that number is expected to fall in 2008 as the economy continues to struggle. (Lucky for California, there’s a whole new demographic to prop up any sagging wedding spending.)

But let’s do the math. As a woman, who is on average paid less than my male counterparts, my retirement income will correspondingly be less than the average man’s. If, instead of spending $28,000 on a wedding, I put that money in a retirement account today and earned 8 percent interest for 40 years — and didn’t contribute another cent between now and then — I would have $608,286.60 when I hit 66.

Now, believe it or not, my generous AAUW salary does not afford me the ability to drop $28,000 in cash on my wedding. But that’s ok, because I could always borrow the money! So if I took out a five-year loan at 8.99 percent interest, I could have the wedding of my dreams for the low, low monthly payment of $581.10.

While that is significantly more than what I pay per month for my student loans (and I have two degrees), you really can’t put a price on happiness. But I can put a price on lost retirement savings. At 60 payments of $581.10, the total cost of my loan would be $34,866, not $28,000. If I had, however, put that monthly $581.10 in an IRA with an 8.5 percent return, after five years I’d have $43,258.50.

Seriously though, to all my newly married and soon-to-be married friends, I’m happy for you. Here’s that waffle iron you wanted. I’ll have the vegetarian option and several glasses of chardonnay.

By:   |   June 24, 2008

7 Comments

  1. Veronica says:

    *snort* Beautiful post!! And honestly, so very very valid points.

    – said the married woman (9 years this past May!) who did it in Vegas!

  2. Jackie says:

    So nice to know that some of the “younger generation” is looking ahead. My husband and I are delighted that we married in the “mints and punch” era (we’re coming up on 46 years in August). Consequently, we never had to pay off an enormous credit card debt and were able to start savings accounts right off the bat. With both of us working throughout our married life at jobs we loved (even though my teachers’ salary never was much), we are now able to live comfortably and can afford to travel and support EF!

  3. Tell you friends to save their money and schedule their wedding ceremony in my office for $120. Or do the Tie the Knot Valentine’s Day wedding package of KirklandWeddings.com for $350, complete with beautiful venue, flowers, officiant and music.
    Carolyn Hayek, Retired Judge and Wedding Officiant
    35-year member of AAUW

  4. Nancy says:

    Let me chime in… A simple wedding is not the only reason my husband and I are enjoying financial freedom at about age 60, but it started us down that road.

    It was a celebration with 30 close friends and family, snapshots that are hanging in a multi-picture frame on the wall (next to Mother’s formal portrait), and bill we could pay off with our current (small) income. I recommend it.

  5. Mary says:

    Liz will miss out on some expensive wedding presents, like the $60 sheet set (only 2 sheets), I foolishly purchased at Macy’sfor a wedding I am going to next month. Then there was the $12.99 delivery fee. The costs for weddings may be out of sight, but so are the items the bride selects for her bridal registry.

  6. lizbolton says:

    Don’t get me started on wedding registries. It’s like “here’s an approved list of gifts to thank me for including you in my special day.” My loss.

  7. Amy says:

    I have decided I am NEVER getting married. I have seen too many marriages that are way too unhappy. My parents for one never do anything together, and when they are together they are always arguing about something. They are still together in the sense that they are married and live in the same house. After work one goes upstairs, and one goes downstairs. Way too many couples never communicate they just end up exploding at each other.

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