The Invitation Situation

The average wedding in the US costs around $25k, according to online sources.  Well it’s no wonder why, if you break this total down into it’s component costs.  These sources show that foolish people regularly spend $800 on invitation-category expenses alone!  This includes engagement announcements, save-the-date cards, invitations, reply cards, postage, and a guest book.  Now that the Green Pilgrim has covered all of these bases in preparation for his own wedding celebration he feels the urge to share what he has learned so that you are not taken advantage of by an often exploitative industry.

My future wife and I are very close to our friends and family, and we know all 100+ of our anticipated guests quite well.  So we just told them we were engaged, and which day we were planning the wedding for.  Total cost: $0.  (The average for engagement announcements and save-the-date cards combined is about $200)

We also wanted to make it easy for our guests to RSVP, so we decided to create a wedding website.  TheKnot offers a free wedding website builder that we found agreeable (there were plenty of other free options for the website, but we liked the ease of their template approach).  The website has a built-in guest book page on which we have already collected a few well wishes.  We have all the other things you might expect like directions, accommodation information, the proposal story, etc…  Lastly, there is a password protected RSVP page (the password is on our invitations – no reply card necessary).  Total cost: $0.  (Average cost of reply cards and guest book: ~$150)

Finally we have the invitations themselves.  We found a deal online from PartyPOP that offered to print and send free wedding invitations.  After vetting this seemingly too-good-to-be-true deal we realized that what they get in return is exposure.  The envelopes have their company name on them and they encourage you and others to go through them for other wedding-related expenses.  By default they have the address of their personalized wedding website for you on the invitation, but we covered this up on each of the 75 free invitations with free correction fluid from my office supply closet at work, and wrote in the website we preferred.  We did something similar with free folder labels over the PartyPOP logo/website on the envelopes too.  All told, the invitations look quite nice.  We spent a Sunday afternoon addressing the invitations and envelopes ourselves.  Total cost: $0.  (Average cost for invitations: ~$200 and up)

One remaining cost is postage.  I will save a little on this by using my free inter-office mail to send invitations to coworker friends we are inviting, but we will probably come in just under the average of $75 for this (I will be paying for postage and sending them off later today).  I have no qualms supporting the USPS (they do good work!), and this is our ONLY invitation expense.

Looking over the above makes me feel really good about myself and my quest for early financial independence.  For less than a day’s work we saved $550 that can be better spent on our future together (or our honeymoon).  And anybody can take advantage of the same deals (or better ones) for the time cost of a little research.  If you think that $25k is too much for a wedding then you’re not only 100% correct but you’re already on your way to becoming a green pilgrim yourself!  My aim is to make the path easier for you; together we are stronger.  I am pleased to have a partner in life who also abhors waste, strives for efficiency, and values happiness and health above all.  As you can see, our attitude is already paying dividends.

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EOM May 2013

Hello Pilgrims!

Another month gone, another month closer to retirement.  My savings rate for May was a modest 64%.  So far in 2014 my overall savings rate has hovered just around what it was last year (67%).  Putting aside 2/3 of what you earn might sound psychologically difficult at first, but “flexing your frugality muscle” gets easier with practice, and I could not be more happy with the way things are going.  The only thing I’ve needed to cut back on are frivolous expenses like frequent trips to fancy restaurants and bar drinks marked up 300% because somebody hands it to you from behind a counter.  These things alone allow me to indulge in luxuries like travel and live entertainment without compromising my plan to retire by 35.

My major expense this month (besides rent) was a plane ticket to my bachelor party in August.  Nothing crazy folks, just a lake-house weekend in the Catskills.  A few weeks after that I’ll be going to Jamaica for a week with my future wife; that trip is already paid for.  I suppose I could give up these things and retire by 32 instead, but that just doesn’t seem worth it.

So what can I do better?  I bought a lottery ticket this month.  The Powerball craze got to me.  $3 down the drain.  Although we did hit one of the numbers.

I also bought a computer game for $15.  I had torrented it for free, but enjoyed it so much I bought a legitimate copy in order to receive the developer’s frequent updates.  Now the novelty has worn off, and I am not sure the benefit of owning a legitimate copy was really worth it.

On our recent camping trip I got lost on my way to the campsite and had to buy an overpriced map from a gas station for $8.  I really should have bought a more reasonably priced map (or written better directions) when I gave up the data plan for my cell phone, but I’m saving so much money from that switch that I can’t really be upset.

Great stories, eh?  Everything above is small potatoes, but adds up over time in a positive way just as surely as a cigarette smoking habit adds up in a negative way.  By living below my means I was able to pay off the debts my younger, foolish self incurred and build up significant savings that will multiply themselves over time.  Now I don’t need to worry about federal student loan interest rates doubling on July 1st, or making payments on a car.  The benefits of extreme saving will only increase over time, and things are looking pretty good already.