Planning your life with the person you want to spend the rest of it with can be an exciting endeavor. But getting married and buying a home at the same time can be an expensive process that requires a lot of communication and preparation.
Here are five tips to help you balance saving for a wedding and a down payment at the same time.
1. Discuss Your Priorities
Money is often a major source of conflict in a marriage, especially if you're not on the same page. While you don't have to share all the same thoughts and feelings about how to manage your finances, it's crucial that you communicate and come to an agreement about the things that matter the most to you.
Take some time to talk to your partner about your current financial situation and your priorities. For example, one of you may consider the wedding a more pressing matter, while the other puts more value on home ownership. You may also have different opinions about how you want to pay for your wedding.
Talk about your goals and listen with the intent to understand your partner. There's no right or wrong answer to how you should proceed. The important thing is that you do it together.
2. Come Up With Goals
Once you've figured out what's most important to both of you, create some SMART goals based on how you want to move forward.
As you've communicated about your priorities, write out what you want to accomplish. For example, you may decide that you want to get married in a year and rent an apartment for a year or two before buying your first home together. Or, you may decide to buy a home and tie the knot at the same time.
You can then talk about how you want to achieve your goals. For instance, you may decide to open a joint savings account to which each person contributes an equal amount every month.
If there's a significant income gap, you could alternatively agree to contributions proportionate to your individual incomes and expenses.
You can also discuss opportunities to get help with your wedding expenses and down payment. For example, your parents may be willing to help, and you can research down payment assistance programs in your area.
On average, couples spent $30,000 on their wedding ceremony and reception in 2022, according to The Knot. But depending on where you live and what you want, you may end up spending more or less than that.
For a home purchase, you'll want to do some research to understand how much house you can afford. That includes evaluating your income and expenses and using a mortgage calculator to estimate your home budget.
From there, you can estimate what you'd need for a down payment. While it's recommended to put 20% or more down on a home purchase, conventional mortgage loans typically require a minimum of 5%—or even 3% or lower for first-time homebuyers. If you qualify for a VA loan or USDA loan, you may not need a down payment at all.
Putting it all together, come up with a budget based on the wedding experience you want to have and get an estimate of what your down payment would be.
After you spell out the specifics of your goals, take a step back and give your partner and yourself a reality check. There's nothing wrong with a little ambition, but setting your sights too high could lead to failure and, if you're not careful, resentment.
Even if your goals are achievable at the beginning, life doesn't always go as planned. So, as you work toward your goals, continue to communicate and reevaluate your plan regularly. While it may be disappointing to have to make adjustments along the way, it may be more so if you have to do it at the last minute.
As you discuss your goals, make sure you're both looking at the big picture. If you believe your career plans may involve a relocation in the near future, for instance, it may not make sense to buy a home until you make that move.
Additionally, if you want to start a family sooner rather than later, it could make sense to spend less on the wedding and more on a home that gives you room to grow.
In other words, think about your broader life goals together and how the wedding and home fit in.
As you assess how much you need to save for each of your goals and what you can both afford to contribute, determine how long it'll take to reach them. You could even set up benchmarks along the way to ensure you remain on track.
3. Automate Your Savings
One of the best ways to ensure success with your savings goals is to automate your monthly contributions. If the money is coming out of your bank accounts at the beginning of the month or on payday, you don't have to worry about spending it on something else.
Additionally, it can be worth looking at your budgets to see if you can increase your monthly savings contributions. For example, if you both have a Netflix account or an Amazon Prime membership, sharing subscriptions can cut your costs in half.
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4. Avoid Unnecessary Debt
As you work toward your financial goals, you may run into other expenses that impede your progress. Whatever you do, though, avoid taking on unnecessary debt, which can create long-term financial obligations.
For example, you may be tempted to borrow money for your honeymoon, but a personal loan can take several years to pay off. Also, make it a priority to spend within your means and pay off your credit card balance in full every month to avoid costly interest charges.
If you don't already have an emergency fund, it may also make sense to establish one before you start on your wedding and down payment goals. That way, you won't have to borrow money in the event of a financial emergency.
You don't need to have the recommended three to six months' worth of basic expenses before you move on to other goals, but discuss how much you need in a rainy day fund to feel comfortable.
5. Prepare Your Credit for a Mortgage
One of the best ways to save money on a home purchase is to establish a good credit score. You can start by checking your credit scores and credit reports to get an idea of where you both stand. If you notice any inaccuracies, you have the right to file a dispute with the credit reporting agencies.
If your credit needs some work, pinpoint areas in your credit reports that you can address. For example, you may need to pay down credit card balances to reduce your credit utilization rate, or if one of you is delinquent on a loan or credit card, get caught up on payments as quickly as possible to avoid further damage to your credit.
Moving forward, limit your credit applications, maintain low balances on your credit cards and always pay your bills on time.
The Bottom Line
Saving for a wedding and a house at the same time is no walk in the park, but it is possible. As long as you and your partner communicate, set effective and reasonable goals and put in the effort, you can work together to get the wedding and the home you desire.