When it comes to planning a wedding, I always advise people to start with a budget. The budget is the framework that tells you how much wedding you can accurately afford. I’m sure lots of folks sit down and write up a planned budget, but I often wonder how many couples actually track their spending during the wedding planning process. It’s easy to write some loose figures down on a piece of paper, it’s another thing to accurately track your wedding costs.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of tools to help you track how much you’re actually spending.
Without a reliable system for tracking your expenses, your budget is just a guess about what your spending will be if all goes according to plan. News flash!… it never goes exactly according to plan. It is far too easy to round numbers, forget to include taxes, or remember where exactly your money went. Whether you write things down on paper, a worksheet, or use accounting software, you must keep track of every single cost related to your wedding, no matter how small. You’d be astonished how the little things add up when nobody’s looking, and then you’re left wondering how you blew your budget by thousands of pesos. I highly endorse a free money management service like mint.com. With this service, you link bank accounts, credit cards, assets and liabilities to your account, and mint tracks every transaction that takes place. While this service will track all of your trades, you can set specific budgets or goals for things like—you guessed it—weddings! Then as you go down the list of transactions from the week, just designate each one that was a wedding expense. Mint does the heavy lifting and make it easy to track how much you’ve spent.
Having correct data will also allow you to make adjustments along the way. Let’s say you’ve been doing a pretty good job of sticking to your budget, but halfway through the preparation process you’ve actually spent several hundred pesos more than you had planned to. If you have no way of tracking your expenses you might not know that you’re over budget. But with accurate records, you can go through your data to see where you overspent. You’ll also know the amount of savings you need to find in other areas in order to stay on target.
Bonus, using a service like mint will not just help your wedding plans, but your funds in general. It’s a great way to see where your money goes, and it presents the info in easy to digest charts and graphs. You can set savings goals, budgets toward specific items, and even track your net worth. If you and your spouse both track your finances, you’ll have a much better indulgent of your spending and savings habits, and you can use the data to frame a discussion about how you will handle moneys once you’re married.
Hopefully you see the importance and advantage of tracking your wedding expenses. There’s nothing worse than spending money you don’t have and realizing it after it’s too late. But with a good budget and accurate spending records, you won’t have any worries on your big day.