Should You Get Pet Insurance?

Let’s be real – this post is just an excuse for me to share adorable pics of my parents’ new puppy, Rudy.

Rudy 3

Tired out from 10 minutes of hardcore wrestling that stuffed animal.

Just kidding. Pet insurance is a real thing. And with the vet costs on the rise, it’s something a lot of pet owners consider purchasing. My mom requested that I write this blog because she was wondering if she should get pet insurance for her new puppy. FYI – he’s an eight week old yellow lab in case you’re wondering. He just went home with my parents yesterday! I might have to move back in with them just so he has a sibling . . .

As cuddly and cute as Rudy is, he’s expensive. Your wallet gets hit the first time when you purchase your new pal. Then you have to spend more money on every day expenses like food, training, and accessories (leashes, crates, toys). By the time you get to vet fees for stuff like shots, neutering, and check ups Rudy and his fury friends are running up a pretty high tab.

According to a survey done by the American Pet Products Association, cat owners spend an average of $219 a year on routine vet visits. That’s a per cat cost, too, so if you’re a crazy cat lady then you can multiply it by 12. For dog owners the cost is even higher at an average of $248 per year. And that’s only if your four-legged friend is healthy. Costs go up dramatically if your pet has a health scare. Foreign body ingestion, aka your dog ate something he wasn’t supposed to, costs an average of $1,629 to handle. Our old dog Bode suffered from Inter-vertebral Disc Disease. The average cost to treat that? $3,282. Not cheap! Plus the only repayment you’ll get from your dog for a lot of these medical expenses are the laughs that ensue while watching them live with one of those embarrassing cones on their head.

Our old puppy Bode and his Cone of Shame.

Bode and his Cone of Shame.

All joking aside, most of us want to do whatever we can to keep our pets healthy. They’re members of the family after all. But with the cost of care so high, footing the bill for veterinary visits is no easy feat. A recent survey by the Associated Press showed that 41% of pet owners are somewhat worried that they could not afford medical care for a sick cat or dog. So is pet insurance a good solution?

The answer is yes and no. You see, experts still don’t agree on whether or not the cost of pet insurance premiums is worth the coverage you get. Because even though it’s for pets, it’s still insurance so it has to be complicated.

Consumer Reports did an experiment in 2011 where they compared the cost vs. payout of nine pet policies for Roxy, a healthy beagle. In her ten years of life Roxy’s owners had spent about $7,000 on veterinary costs. For the same period of time, the total price of pet insurance premiums exceeded $7,000 for each of the nine insurance companies they researched. Based on this study, Consumer Reports concluded that the benefits of pet insurance are very rarely worth the cost.

Here's another pic of Rudy in case the insurance talk is boring you.

Here’s another pic of Rudy in case the insurance talk is boring you.

That Consumer Reports study was done four years ago, however, and medical costs for pets have only gone up since then. New treatments for pets are being created all the time. Bode even went to a doggy chiropractor a few times. With more and more options for treatments available, pets are living longer. Which means owners are encountering more medical costs. So the chances that vet costs might exceed those insurance premiums are increasing.

At this point you’re probably thinking, “Kelsey, this doesn’t help me at all! Should I get pet insurance or not?!”

My answer to that questions is yes, you should consider pet insurance IF:

  • You can afford the monthly premium, which is typically anywhere from $20 to $60.
  • Piece of mind is important to you. If you don’t ever want to have to choose between your pet’s health and your wallet’s, then pet insurance might be right for you.
  • You understand the terms of the insurance coverage you pay for. Pet insurance, like other types of insurance, comes with deductibles and co-pays. Make sure you understand what is covered for your pet so there are no surprises.
  • You’re fine with the possibility that you could pay for insurance each month and never use the coverage for a healthy dog or cat.

If you don’t think pet insurance is right for you, then here’s an easy alternative – make a pet savings account! Put $10 or $20 a month into a savings account specifically designated for potential pet-related expenses. At our credit union you could set up a club savings account in minutes, in person or on the phone, to start saving for your pet ASAP. You can even set up an automatic transfer each month into that account so the money gets saved without you having to think about it. The money in that pet savings account will help you pay for vet costs. And unlike with traditional insurance, you won’t be restricted to using the funds for medical expenses, so you could use it to pay for other stuff like going to the groomers or extra treats! Bonus – if your pet lives a long, happy life you might never use the money and this way it would be in your bank account instead of the insurance company’s pocket.

Bottom line: whether you chose to use insurance or not, pets are expensive. Make sure you factor in all potential pet costs when creating your budget, including those pesky unexpected trips to the vet.

8 Halloween Costumes for $5 or Less

I LOVE HALLOWEEN. LOVE IT. I love to dress up. One thing I don’t love, however, is spending a lot of money on a costume. Here’s a scary fact – according to International Business Times the average American spends $80 a year on their Halloween costume. AHH! Why spend that much on a store-bought costume when you could make your own for a lot less?

Here are 10 Halloween costume ideas that all cost less than $5. I even tested them out to be sure I could make them myself and that they would stay on budget.

  1. 3-Hole Punch – “Cause you can have me either way. Plain White Jim, or Three-Hole Punch.” All fans of the Office have considered this costume at least once, I think. And it was super easy. I just cut out three circles from black construction paper, got a little scotch tape, and viola. 3hole Punch Costume
  2. Muggle – FYI for you non-wizards, a muggle is a non-magical person in Harry Potter terms. This is the easiest costume of all time. You just wear you normal clothes. It’s also 100% free, which makes it even better. The only downside is that you have to be “that person” at the party who makes Harry Potter jokes the whole time. I’m always that person though so . . .Muggle Costume
  3. Identity Thief- The only difficult part of this costume was coming up with all the names. Other than that it was super easy. I already had the “Hello, my name is” stickers, but if you didn’t you could pick up a package at Staples or anywhere that sells office supplies for $4.99. You could even print them on regular paper and attach them with tape if you didn’t want to spring for the labels. Then stick ’em all over yourself and you’re ready to go! Identity Thief
  4. Sunny-side Up Egg – I actually hate eggs in real life, but I love this costume. All I did was cut out a big yellow circle of construction paper, tape it to my shirt, and carry around the knife and fork. I’m realizing now that quite a few of these costumes involved construction paper which I already have a lot of because I’m super into arts and crafts. But if you didn’t you could pick some up at the grocery store for about $4.Sunnyside Up Costume
  5. Damien from Mean Girls – Bonus points for shouting out as many quotes from the movie as possible while wearing the costume. Anyone with a sweatshirt and sunglasses can do this one. And everyone loves Means Girls so you’ll probably be super popular. So fetch.Damien Costume
  6. Error 404 – Costume Not Found. Not to get all mathematical on you, but one piece of paper = $0.017 and the ink for one page = $0.035. So total this costume cost me $0.052. Talk about a bargain.Error Costume
  7. Smartie Pants – Something I learned during this whole process is that usually the worst puns make the best costumes. You can buy a bag of Smarties for just $1.99. Plus you get to eat them when you’re done. If other people don’t steal them off your pants and eat them first, that is. Smartie Pants Costume
  8. God’s Gift to Men/Women – I think you need to bring a little more confidence to this costume than I did to really pull it off, but you get the idea. If you don’t have a few ribbons or bows laying around for wrapping gifts you can buy them for $2.99 and then reuse them at Christmas! Gods Gift Costume

Hope your Halloween is both fun and thrifty. Happy Haunting!

What You Actually Need to Know about EMV Chip Cards

You might have seen them in the news. Or maybe you know someone who has one. Or maybe you even heard about the impending “liability shift” . . . dun dun dun . . . Or maybe you haven’t ever heard of EMV Chip Cards until now. Whatever you have or haven’t heard, chip cards are the next big thing in financial technology. And in the next year or so, everyone will have one, including you! So here are the basics you need to know about what they are and how they work.

  • What is an EMV chip card? 

EMV stands for Europay Mastercard Visa. That acronym is pretty unhelpful, though, in terms of figuring out what the card does. What you really need to know is that EMV is a type of chip that will soon be embedded in all debit and credit cards. The chip encrypts your card information, like your card number, cardholder name, CVV2 (that 3 digit number on the back), and expiration date. When you insert a chip card a merchant’s terminal, instead of getting all that info off your card like they do with an old fashioned magstripe card, all the terminal gets is an encrypted code. The terminal never captures your personal info. Plus those encrypted codes are good for one-time use only, so they can’t be stolen and used again. So basically an EMV card is just like the card you have now, except smarter and more secure.

  • What’s the benefit of having a chip card?

It’s safer than your old card! Fraud is greatly decreased by the chip because of how it encrypts your information. So when you have a chip card you are less vulnerable to fraudulent charges on your account. Plus, a lot of other countries have already been using EMV chip technology for years, so chip cards are handy for those who travel abroad frequently.
EMV Better

  • How do I use a chip card? Will I still be able to use my old card if I don’t have a chip card yet?

Using a chip card is super simple. When you’re at a chip terminal, you’ll stick your card into the bottom of it. The card will stay there while you process the transaction as usual. Then you remove your card and you’re on your way. Every chip card will still have a magstripe on it, so if you’re ever at a terminal that’s not chip-friendly, you’ll still be able to swipe your card the old fashioned way. Conversely, if you don’t have a chip card yet you can still swipe your magstripe card at a chip terminal. And best of all, if you have a shiny new chip card but you accidentally swipe it at a chip-enabled terminal, the terminal will remind you that you have a chip card and you need to insert it instead.

  • What’s this “liability shift” on October 1st all about?

This sounds a lot more ominous than it is, I promise. When it comes to debit and credit cards, liability is all about who is responsible for fraudulent transactions. The good news for consumers is that with or without a chip card, you’re never liable for transactions you didn’t do. So really, you can ignore the whole liability shift thing, and continue to use your card knowing you won’t be responsible for any fraudulent charges.

  • What about online transactions?

Chip cards only affect card-present transactions, or transactions where you are there in person to insert your chip card. Online transactions aren’t affected by chip cards, because you’re manually inputting your card info into the computer, not inserting a chip or swiping a magstripe. So you’ll process online transactions the same way you always do.

  • When will I get a chip card?

Probably soon! Again, there’s no rule stating that you have to have a chip card by a certain date. This means that financial institutions and credit card companies are issuing chip cards to their customers at their own pace. Chip cards and chip-enabled terminals are becoming more and more common around the US. You’ll see chip terminals at big chain stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and Hannaford. In response a lot of financial institutions are starting to issue chip cards to their customers. So be on the lookout for your new chip card soon, but in the meantime you can keep on swiping your old card with no worries.

5 Steps to Combining Finances

It’s September so you might have thought that the summer of wedding blogging was over . . . think again! Vows have been said, cakes cut, and dance floors dominated by my awesome moves but I have not run out of financial advice to give. I’m back in wedding mode to talk about one step of wedding preparation that’s not as glamorous as dress shopping or cake tasting, but is equally important – combining your finances.


Money is a very personal subject for most people, which is why beyond determining who pays for dinner, a lot of couples avoid the subject. But your financial history, accounts balances, and spending habits strongly influence decisions you’ll make as a couple. Everything from big questions like where to live or if you want to have kids all the way down to the small stuff like what’s for dinner is impacted by your money habits; the sooner you start talking to your partner about your financial life, the better. So here are 5 steps to take to start combining finances with your spouse-to-be:

  1. Start Talking –  Set up a time and place to have the first money conversation. Give yourself at least an hour of uninterrupted time so you can talk in depth. It’s like a date but with bank statements instead of flowers. If you think it might be helpful, invite a third party like a counselor or a financial planner to help mediate. Money can be emotional, so there’s no shame in asking for some outside help. If things get heated, take a break and come back to it another day. The important thing is that you open lines of communication with each other so you can start approaching your finances as a team. You might be surprised by what you didn’t know about your partner’s financial life.
  2. Ask These Questions – There’s a lot to cover when it comes to money. Maybe you’re a financial guru who comes to the table with a laundry list of things to talk to your partner about. Or maybe you’re sitting there with no idea what to ask or how to start sharing. Never fear, Kelsey’s here . . . with a list of questions you’ll want to you ask each other during that first conversation:
    1. How much do you make?
    2. What debts do you have?
    3. What investments do you have?
    4. What financial institution(s) do you use? How many accounts do you have?
    5. Where does your money go each month? What bills, payments, etc. do you have?
    6. What are your financial priorities?
    7. What financial goals do you have? Short term and long term? As individuals and as a couple?
    8. What is your money style? Are you a saver or a spender? Do you have any money hang ups?
  3. Pick Your Style – You had your own money-style as a single person, but now you’ll have to determine what your style is as a couple. There’s no single best way to combine finances with your partner. It’s about figuring out what will work best for the two of you. Just remember that whatever money-management system you agree upon, your decisions will now affect not just you but your partner, as well. Here are some different ways couples commonly combine finances:
    1. What’s Mine Is Yours – Where you have one joint account and share everything.
    2. Yours, Mine, and Ours – Where you have a joint account for joint expenses (like rent, insurance, Netflix, etc.) but each maintain your own personal accounts for individual expenses. The trick to making this work is determining how much each partner will contribute to the joint account each month.
    3. A la Carte – Where you keep your finances separate but each partner picks certain joint bills and expenses to pay for.
    4. In Love as Individuals – Where you keep your finances completely separate.
  4. Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes – Getting married changes more than just your last name, although if you are changing your name you’ll want to be sure you do so on all important documents, credit cards, and accounts. You also might want to change the beneficiary on things like your retirement accounts or insurance policies to your spouse. Most married couples also chose to file their taxes jointly, which means you might also want to make some changes to your payroll with holdings. Additionally, once you open a joint account you might need to change things like your direct deposit, automatic withdrawals, or payments that are set up on your debit card. Be on the lookout for things that might need updating as you go along.
  5. Keep the Conversation Going – Now that you’ve got the ball rolling, don’t let it stop. Continue talking openly and frequently with your partner about your finances. Set up a time to meet once a month to go over your accounts. Look at where your money went last month, if you met your goals, and what’s coming up this month for bills. Make these dates fun by ordering takeout or making drinks. As you start a new life together, new money questions are bound to pop up. If you have an established system for talking about those new challenges, they’ll be so much easier to tackle together.

Europe on a Budget – Tips for Traveling on the Cheap

This August Casco FCU teller-to-the-stars Paige went on the adventure of a lifetime. She and a group of friends went on a trip to visit her German exchange student from high school. While abroad Paige got to travel all around Europe – to Iceland, Germany, Italy, France, and Austria. It was a month-long trip jam-packed with fun. Trust me, I’ve seen the photos.

Paige & Friends at Eiffel Tower

Paige & Friends at the Eiffel Tower.

Because she works at a credit union, Paige was very well prepared financially for her vacation. She might have been gallivanting around Europe, but that doesn’t mean her bank account was left hurting. And now Paige has returned from her trip with more than just fancy German chocolates to share – she sat down with me to give me her 7 best tips for saving money while traveling. Here they are:

  1. Get your home finances in order – Step number one when you travel (even within the U.S.) is to let your financial institution know where you’re going and the dates. Your credit union or bank has fraud prevention systems that track your debit card use for unusual transactions. If out of the blue you start using your card in Switzerland when you’ve never made a purchase outside of Maine before, those systems might think someone has stolen your card. Your debit card might get frozen and you might not be able to access your money right away, which isn’t a problem you”l want to have while traveling overseas. If you notify your FI beforehand, however, they can often modify settings on your card to make sure it works correctly while you travel. Step two of financial prep for your trip is to make sure all of your bills will get paid while you’re gone. Set up auto payments to insure things like car payments, credit cards, student loans, and your rent are taken care of while you’re gone. Then you won’t have to deal with late fees or other hassles when you get back.
  2. Save more than you need – Paige estimated that she would need between $1,000 to $1,500 for her trip. This was based on the fact that she would be gone for 4 weeks and some research she did into accommodations, transportation, and activities. She began putting money into a savings account for her trip over a year before she left and aimed to save $3,000. Knowing she had more money than she would necessarily need to spend meant she was ready for any unexpected expenses that popped up along the way (like a $25, 5 minute cab drive when it started raining in Paris). Plus it meant that she knew she had wiggle room in her budget for splurges like one fancy hotel room in France or some clothes shopping at Michael Kors. Lastly, saving money beforehand meant that even if she charged things on her credit card while she was there, she would have the funds to payoff that card when she returned. You want to enjoy your trip, not be worried about how much money you’re spending. The more you can save beforehand, the more enjoyable your trip will be.
  3. Get creative with lodging – Hotels can often be a traveler’s biggest expense. You gotta sleep somewhere, right? Paige saved money on lodging by exploring other options. She stayed with a friend from Germany for a lot of the trip. She also stayed in hostels, which are usually much cheaper than hotels because the accommodations are less fancy and you often share a room with other travelers. Paige recommends using websites like to check out a hostel before you book, just to make sure it’s safe and clean. Another option that can save travelers money is AirBnB, a site which lets you stay in someone’s apartment or home while they are gone.
  4. Buy tickets early – Most people know that often the earlier you can book a plane ticket, the cheaper it is. But the same goes for other traveling tickets, like trains, subways, museums, tourist attractions, and more. Paige, for example, got a $10 ticket to visit the Vatican online in advance. Tickets on site the day of are $42. That’s a big difference! The only downside to buying in advance is that if you don’t end up making it to that city or site, it can end up being a waste. So just make sure you don’t overbook.

    Paige Venice

    Paige took this herself in Venice. Look how cool the reflection on the boat is!

  5. Travel like the natives – Whichever mode of transportation is most popular with the natives of that city is probably also the cheapest. Instead of renting a car or flying, try alternative modes of transportation like trains, boats, and subway systems. Paige traveled from city to city in Europe mostly by train, because it was the cheapest. What was the most common way she got around once she was in a city? By foot! Walking not only saves on cab fares, but it lets you see more of the city up close and personal. Plus it’s free. Can’t beat that.
  6. Bring snacks – Food is expensive, but you gotta eat. Especially after a long day of sight-seeing. Obviously eating out can be a huge part of travel experience, but if you only eat out for your whole trip it can also be expensive. Try having at least one meal a day be “homemade” or rather something you buy at a grocery store and prepare on your own. If you’re going to be out for a long time sightseeing, bring snacks so you’re not tempted to buy food while you’re out. Plus bringing snacks means you get to check out foreign grocery stores, which will look a lot different than your local one. Who knows what yummy treats you’ll find for less.
  7. Keep track – This last one might seem obvious, but as she was climbing the Eiffel Tower I’m sure Paige was not thinking about her current checking account balance. It’s easy to lose track of how much you spend when you’re busy and having fun. But it’s also integral to making sure you stay within your budget. Use your mobile app to check your balance and recent transactions. Compare receipts to your app to make sure you got charged the correct amounts. Keep a list of what you’ve bought for gifts and souvenirs so you don’t overspend. Lastly, if you use a debit or credit card even once while abroad, checking your account online will help you prevent fraud on your account. If you see a transaction on your account that you didn’t do, let your financial institution know ASAP.

Although it sounds like if she had been able to Paige would have stayed in Europe forever, her return to reality has been a little easier because she’s in such great financial shape. She came back with money to spare, rather than being over budget or worried about how she was going to make credit card payments. That sounds like the right way to pay for Europe if you ask me!

6 Tips for Spending Less as a Bridesmaid


“What’s that the price of?” you might be wondering. A fabulous vacation to an exotic island? A down-payment on a new car? The price of heating your home for the winter?

Think again! That’s the amount, according to a 2010 study done by, that the average American woman spends on being a bridesmaid. And that’s per wedding. So if you’re a really good friend or have a lot of sisters, you’re in big trouble.

help me i'm poor

A couple of weeks ago I blogged some tips on how the bride and groom can save a few bucks on their big day. I realized after writing it, however, that those tips didn’t really help me out much because I personally have never been a bride. What I have been a lot recently is a bridesmaid. And while I am genuinely always flattered and excited to be one, I am starting to feel the strain it puts on my wallet a little bit. So here are 6 tips for how you can shine in your chiffon and nude heels without breaking the bank.

  1. It’s okay to say no. You might feel guilty declining, but $1,695 is a hefty price tag. As much as you want to be there for the bride on her big day, sometimes it’s not economically feasible. And no one wants to be that party-pooper bridesmaid who complains about how expensive everything is all the time. Before you say yes, be sure you can commit financially to your duties. If not, tell the the bride you’re flattered she wants to include you in her special day, but you’ll need to do it as a regular guest instead of as a member of the wedding party.
  2. Rent a dress. You’re not going to wear it again. Just accept that before you buy it. I’m not sure whether it’s the chiffon or the color or what, but bridesmaid dresses just have a distinct look that makes them unwearable at any event where you will not be standing next to a girl in white while holding a bouquet. Before you start shopping, recommend that the bride check out sites that let you rent dresses for cheaper than you purchase them. There are quite a few out there like Rent the Dress, Vow to be Chic, and Union Station that let you rent a dress for the day for a fraction of the cost of purchasing one. And they have the same designer, styles, and color options of a traditional bridal shop. Plus once you wear it you can return it, so it doesn’t take up space in your closet.
  3. Reign in the pre-wedding celebrations. We all want to be remembered as the bridesmaid that threw the bachelorette of the century, but it’s also important to keep money in mind when planning these pre-wedding events. You don’t have to travel somewhere far away for the bachelorette to be exciting. A girls night out in your hometown or an old-fashioned slumber party could be just as fun, but more budget-friendly. Likewise the bridal shower venue and decorations don’t have to be extravagant. Go on Pinterest, DIY some personalized decorations, and make an at-home shower look spectacular. If some bridesmaids or important guests are coming from far away, consider having both events on the same day or weekend to limit travel costs. And last but not least, keep the bridal “do-dads” to a minimum. You don’t need “Team Bride” t-shirts, buttons, hats, sashes, and shot glasses. Pick one item and wear it proudly.

    My mom and I threw a Downton Abbey themed tea for my sister's bridal shower in our front yard. Lots of DIY savings involved.

    My mom and I threw a Downton Abbey themed tea for my sister’s bridal shower in our front yard. Lots of DIY savings involved.

  4. Be gift savvy. Before you start shopping determine a realistic amount to spend on gifts that fits your budget. Remember that you’ll probably have to get more than one (shower, wedding, maybe even engagement part and bachelorette). Then, hit the registry early. If you wait too long, your options are more limited and there might not be anything left in your price range. Or if you’re crafty, consider DIYing something for the happy couple. Another way to combat cost is to give a group gift from all the bridesmaids. If everyone chips in, you might be able to purchase something nice and meaningful without breaking the bank. Or you can do something creative like a wedding day survival kit for the bride from all her girls.
  5. The more the merrier. Travel and accommodations are another wedding expense that can start to burst your budget. Keep the cost down by sharing it with friends. Driving to the wedding? Carpool and have everyone pitch in for gas. Staying in a hotel room? Cram as many people in there as you can! You can even ask if the hotel has a cot or bring sleeping bags. And remember, the earlier you book flights, hotel rooms, rental cars, etc., the lower the price is. So as soon as you know the details of the wedding, start the hunt for the best travel prices.
  6. DIY hair and make-up. If possible, do your own hair and make up on the day. Or have all the bridesmaids do hair and make-up for each other. You want to look good in the pictures, but professional hair and make-up can cost anywhere from $50 to $200. Not cheap! YouTube has no shortage of tutorials to help you out if, like me, your beauty regime normally consists of putting on mascara and (maybe) brushing your hair. If the bride is hesitant about DIY beauty, do a test-run at the bridal shower or bachelorette to make sure she likes your look.

Hope these tips help you walk down the aisle confident that you are on your A-game, both as a bridesmaid and a financial wizard. Happy Wedding Season!

8 Wedding Things You Don’t Need

Summer 2015 is the summer of weddings for me. And as a frequent wedding-goer, there are really only three things I care about as a guest. They are, in order from least to most important: a good dance floor, an open bar, and a few minutes with the happy couple. That’s it. And I think most wedding guests are on the same page. Unless you are one of the women on the TLC show “Four Weddings.” Those girls are leaving the reception all, “The center pieces were tacky and the cupcakes didn’t have the exact icing I prefer. I give it a 4 out of 10.” But everyone else is is just happy to be there with you, enjoying your special day.

Weddings are expensive. That’s just a fact. You need food, booze, a venue . . . the list goes on. But what can increase the price of your wedding even more is all of the extra details that go into it that your guests don’t even notice. Cutting out just a few things can really help keep your budget smaller. So in the name of saving money, I have compiled this list of wedding things you shouldn’t spend money on.

Here are 8 Things You Do NOT Need for Your Wedding:

  • An Engagement Party – I love a good party, but often there are so many that lead up to the wedding that it sort of makes the actual event seem less special. An engagement party, a bachelor/bachelorette party, a bridal shower, a rehearsal dinner, a brunch the day after . . . the list goes on and on. Be selective and only have a few pre/post-wedding events. Cutting down on all these extra celebrations will not only save you money but it will also make your ceremony and reception more memorable.

    Unless you are the girl from "Revenge" and it's the setting for one of your dramatic schemes, Engagement Parties are not necessary.

    Unless you are the girl from “Revenge” and it’s the setting for one of your dramatic schemes, Engagement Parties are not necessary.

  • Save-the-Dates – If you send out your invitations on time (6 to 8 weeks before the wedding), then you don’t really need Save-the-Dates. They’re just extra paper and postage that jack up your budget. If your wedding is during peak season or at a far-away destination for many of your guests, consider sending invitations on the earlier side (maybe 10 to 12 weeks in advance) to give people more time to plan. Or send Save-the-Dates via e-mail – it’s free and environmentally friendly.
  • Guests You Don’t Know – Creating a guest list is often the most difficult wedding prep task. It can quickly grow from 75 to 150 to 300 once you start adding in coworkers, plus-ones, and second cousins once removed. You don’t want to leave anyone out, but it’s also important to remember that the wedding is about the bride and groom, not their extended social circle. Try sticking to guests that are in your life now. My friend had a great rule-of-thumb for deciding which friends made her guest list – if she didn’t text you to tell you she got engaged, she didn’t invite you. It was an easy way to eliminate friends she still cared about but didn’t really talk to or see any more. You can also try putting your guests into categories such as: young children, coworkers, family friends. Then see if you can agree to eliminate an entire category. Exceptions might pop up to any of these rules, but they’ll help keep the numbers down.
  • Ceremony Programs and Menus – More paper! Most of your guests have been to a wedding before and they know the drill. All of those thoughtfully created programs tend to end up crumpled up on reception tables by the end of the night. Plus your guests don’t need to see a menu because already picked chicken or fish back when they sent their RSVP card and they’re stuck with whatever they chose back then. So save a few bucks by not printing these extra items. Instead, try writing the same info out on chalkboards. They’re inexpensive, fun to personalize, and an easy way to add decoration to your venue.
  • DIY Pinterest Crafts – Pinterest can be a great resource for ideas on DIY decorations, favors, centerpieces, etc. But it can also be very dangerous, because there are so many ideas out there that it can be hard to narrow them down to ones that are within your budget, time constraints, and abilities. You don’t need a cake, and cupcakes, and a candy bar. You don’t need a butterfly release, a balloon arch, and personalized napkins with your initials (all things I legit found on Pinterest). The point is, it’s easy to get caught up in the little details of the wedding and go overboard. It’s not good for your budget or your stress-level. Pick a few wedding details that are important to you, like centerpieces and the guestbook, and focus on those.

    Where would one even get that many old cowboy boots?

    Where would one even get that many old cowboy boots?

  • A Minister – If you’re not particularly religious, cut the cost of hiring an officiant and have a family member or friend marry you instead. Becoming an officiant online is easy and inexpensive. And having someone who knows you both well will make the ceremony more personal.
  • A DJ or Band – Entertainment can be one of the most costly expenses for a wedding reception. Cut it out completely by bringing your own music! Everyone has an iPod or phone that can be hooked up to the sound system. You can create a custom playlist beforehand so you get exactly the songs you want. You can even ask for song requests from guests on the RSVP cards. Or ask a friend to DJ for you.
  • Favors – Your guests came to your wedding to see you get married, not for the party favor. Similar to the programs, favors are an item that often gets left behind at a wedding. Favors are a gesture intended to thank your guests for coming to the event. Scrap them altogether and instead be sure to spend a few minutes talking to each guest during the reception. Or have an old-fashioned receiving line. Follow up by acknowledging your guest’s presence on your special day in their thank you card. Both of those steps are more personal than a party favor and much cheaper!

Do you have any tips for saving money on your wedding? Feel free to share!