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Wedding Planner

Putting 20% of your income away each month may sound like a lot, but if you cut out the extra costs you'll be surprised how easy saving can be. For example, over the next year, if you brown-bagged it three days a week, saving about $15, you'd be $860 richer. Another way to save is to set a stringent entertainment budget for your engagement year. Limit yourself to one movie a month - renting movies is a lot cheaper -- and have your friends over instead of going out.

If you already have a couple thousand or more put away to pay for your wedding, don't just leave it in a standard savings account, earning you 3% interest or less.

Instead, try to put your money in Certificates of Deposit that are available at all banks. CDs are short-term investments, normally one-month to one-year, which means you put down a certain sum, usually a minimum of $1,000, and the bank will tell you just how much you'll earn after the CD matures. Shop around because CD interest rates vary widely.

CD rates vary with how long you're investing the money. The longer you leave your funds in, the higher the interest rate. There are two disadvantages with CDs, you can't add funds to them as you save more and you're penalized if you dip into the money before the maturation date. For someone starting off with $3,000 or more though, this may be a good option, since you can lock $2,000 away for the bill-paying month before the wedding and keep $1,000 in your bank account as an emergency fund.

Another option is a money market account. Rates are better than savings accounts and you get to write checks! Shop around as rates vary widely, as do the restrictions. For example, the number of checks you are allowed to write each month and minimum-balance requirements.

When planning your wedding try not to get too carried away. Don't do what Kristeen did and whip out the credit cards to make-up for the difference of what she wanted and what she could afford. "My husband and I decided we wanted a small wedding; a traditional church service followed by a small reception in my parents' backyard. A small wedding was not cheap. I decided, without my husband knowing, to use my credit cards help with the costs." Kristeen explained.

Like anything else, you should only plan to buy what you can afford when it comes to your wedding. If you're working with a $10,000 budget, don't plan a $100,000 affair. "My poor husband had no idea what anything really cost because I didn't want him to say, "Oh we can't do that."

I wish I just listened to him, she sighed. "Then I thought to myself - we will make it all back at the wedding. Well we didn't, and in the end, my wedding cost around $13,000 dollars. We received about $4,000 in gifts. " said Kristeen.

The average wedding cost $19,000 and is based on 125 guests. If you can pare your guest list down to 65, you'll already have shaved a hefty 50% off your reception/catering bill.

As for Kristeen, once she started to think about their future she realized what a mess she had made by charging up her credit cards for a fleeting moment. "All in all, I am almost 30 yrs old and $27,000 dollars in debt, I had no plan and no way to pay-off the debt until I joined Consolidated Credit Counseling." Currently Kristeen and her husband are members of Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc.™ and they are on their way to a debt-free life

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