Rock Bottom / Frugal Wedding Followup

Thursday, May 8, 2008

I posted about our frugal wedding recently, and I thought I would follow up with the massive financial mistakes that we made while paying for our wedding.

The first mistake we made was not properly saving, even though we were engaged for over 2 years. Since we are the fiscally irresponsible types that nickel and dime ourselves to debt, I can only remember a few of the items that we actually bought. We bought an entertainment center for $300. We still have that, and it does look nice, but I don't think it was necessary. Another thing we bought was my $200 mp3 player. While this turned out to be a good investment (I've gotten 3 mp3 players with that same $200, which isn't that bad, but my $40 mp3 player would have lasted and done a good enough job until after the wedding. We also moved and since we were renting a house, this meant a security deposit worth about ~$1800. This amount alone was worth ~1/3 of our overall wedding expense. Now we were paying $400 less per month, which turned out to save us money in the long run, but if we hadn't had the extra $400 a month, we would have not spent it either, especially if we had socked away the security deposit.

By far though the stupidest mistake we made was charging some of our wedding to my company credit card. I work for a fairly large company that did not check the card purchases until you didn't make the payments. This happened shortly after our wedding.

We also bought a house a month before we got married. While this also turned out to be a good investment, it would have reduced a lot of stress. It turned out to be a good investment in the short term because without any out of pocket expenses, and having a craptacular credit score, we walked away with $1200, which was just under 1/6 of our total wedding expenses. We got an FHA loan, and my now wife filed the paperwork to get another company to pay the 3% downpayment, and the seller agreed to pay the closing.

Since we didn't save for our wedding and were living check to check, the final expenses of our wedding took us by surprise. Way too many little tic-i-tac stuff that added up quickly. We went overdraft on the day of our wedding. Luckily, our bank allows overdraft to a certain amount, so we had enough juice to get gas and get back home from the wedding. We were not able to go on a honeymoon because we were broke. Throughout the course of the following week, all the checks we wrote on our wedding day continued to clear, sending us deeper and deeper into overdraft. I'm talking finance charges out the ying yang. So during that week I got a check advance so that we could buy groceries. Checks continued to clear, sending us back into overdraft.

By the end of this week we were out of money. I could not get another check advance, and we had reached our overdraft limit at our bank. I felt like a failure because here I was not married for a week, and I could not provide for my family, even making $65K a year.

So payday comes around a week later, and we can once again afford groceries, and luckily we had just bought a house so we didn't have to make a mortgage payment, but with the overdraft charges and the payday advance due, we could not pay all of our bills, including the final charges of over $2000 that was put on the company card. So, I got another payday advance. I paid a portion of the credit card bill, but I couldn't pay it all. Another month went by, and we had pared down our nickel and diming expenses. But we still couldn't make all of our bills, including the corporate card. So, I missed making the very first mortgage payment. Another month went by, and I got a notice from the human resource department. So did my manager. I had to come clean, and I had to pay the balance, which was $1400 by this time. So, I missed another mortgage payment. Talk about feeling like a loser.   Out of 3 mortgage payments I could have made in my life, I made 1. It was not that I overbought the house. The payments, everything included, was only $1414 a month, less than $200 a month more than what we had been paying for rent for the least year and a half.

We are just now coming out of paying for our wedding. This should be the first month that we don't go overdraft, or don't get a payday advance. I am very proud of this, but I wish that we hadn't had to go through all that other crap to get to where we are.