I’m Never Getting MarriedJune 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.