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Are Wedding Expenses Getting Out Of Control?
Old 05-28-2010, 11:41 AM   #1
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Are Wedding Expenses Getting Out Of Control?

I talked to my cousin who is only a year younger than I. He just came back from his daughter's wedding in London. She recently got an MBA from Oxford, as did her new husband. (I didn't think of Oxford as an MBA type place.) By his first wife he has another daughter who is nearing fifty. She works hard and is a credit to him in every way, in spite of or because of being raised solely by her Dad after her teenage Mom wanted to return to her highschool cheerleading squad. Cuz said that’s cool, here’s a few bucks, and don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya!

Years later he got a new younger wife and a whole new family who have a really different outlook on life. So after putting his “2nd family” daughter through many years of expensive schools, he is now supporting this unemployed daughter and her unemployed new husband, as well as cousin's unemployed son who despite getting a JD has not found a job. God only knows how many people he is supporting.

Do they plan on moving back to Middle America where he could at least support them more cheaply, or maybe put them to work on a used car lot? Nope, swinging London is more to their taste. My cousin worked in the car business from age 18 until he had a severe heart attack and spent a long time in the ICU. His father accumulated a similarly nice stash by selling cars and living cheaply. He only quit when he got hit and killed by lightning. (Incidentally his 2nd hit, but 1st kill.)

I also think it takes quite a bit of gall to plan an elaborate wedding on your father's dime, and not even have it on his home turf. There are relatives who would like to come but not make a trip all the way to London. Cuz could enjoy putting on a big spread for his old friends, his church, his team. But no, his role is mainly to pay, and get there if he can. This wedding fantasy has really gotten out of hand, especially with the trend to expensvie hard to reach destination weddings. This weekend one of my sons is going to a wedding up in BC that can only be reached by a difficult 10 hour drive, or a float plane. They planned to fly, but have been grounded for weather. Are these people from way up there? Hell no, they just think it is romantic.

One ought to be able to raise well educated children in a family with plenty of money without destroying their sense of reality, but I guess it doesn't always work.

My own kids spend money like there is no tomorrow, but they also earn a lot. I keep my mouth shut, as the power balance has definitly shifted to their generation. But I am sure they know that I would like to see a little less extravagance.

The reason for having this rant in this venue is that all my friends are into non-judgmentalism, and they would judge me harshly for having these judgmental thoughts.

Ha
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Old 05-28-2010, 12:14 PM   #2
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The reason for having this rant in this venue is that all my friends are into non-judgmentalism, and they would judge me harshly for having these judgmental thoughts.Ha
Ha, your niece and her DH are selfish, spoiled, fiscally irresponsible, and taking advantage of dear old dad. It's not so much a a generational thing as much as their entitlement mentality. They have a rude awakening coming in the real world.

His financial support needs to leave with him on the plane home, IMO. They are out of college, married and should be on their own now.

Abagail van Buren

PS Send them umbrellas for a wedding gift.
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Old 05-28-2010, 12:16 PM   #3
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I resemble those remarks! Or rather my generation does.

I guess today's generation of youngins (born in the last 30 years) has not had to live with a difficult economy, the Draft or deadly wars (a la WW 1/2, Korea, Vietnam). We are coming off a multi-decade period of general prosperity and technological progress. The sky appears to be the limit.

I do think the current young generation has no clue about certain things. Like the concept of working hard for something and saving for it. Expensive wedding, house down payment, new car, etc. My 30 year old SIL (no, not that one) wants to buy a house. She is as good as an owner she thinks. Except she has zero for a down payment and bad credit with not a lot of income. The idea to save 10% or 20% of the purchase price for a down payment is a completely foreign concept. It is viewed as impossible. We are talking $10,000 to $30,000 in this area. Impossible because why should she have to forgo doing whatever she wants to do when she wants to do it (have more kids, more vacations, newer more expensive cars, motorcycles, name brand clothes and shoes, etc).

I guess I was lucky to grow up in a fiscally conservative household. We never lived like we were rich (we weren't), but I never heard my parents fretting over where to get the money to pay the mortgage this month or worrying how they were going to keep the bill collectors off their backs. We dealt with bad economies and layoffs and being forced to move so my father could find a new job. But there was never a question of food being put on the table. And when I was ready to buy my first house, I knew that it would pay off to save for a down payment. I would honestly feel bad if I had marched up to Mom and Dad and demanded they give me a down payment or pay many tens of thousands for a lavish wedding. We didn't spend lavishly growing up, so why would I expect to live differently as a broke adult?

I keep this in mind when raising my own daughters. I want them to understand money and how to use it and make it work for them. How to get the most out of what amounts of money you can earn. And for them to understand that they weren't lucky enough to be born into the aristocracy, however that should not be a reason to feel unhappy or less successful.
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Old 05-28-2010, 12:25 PM   #4
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(Incidentally his 2nd hit, but 1st kill.)
Good thing he didn't work for the railroad - sounds like he was a poor conductor.

Back on topic: yep, these dang kids these days do not appreciate what they have and how we struggled to make ends meet...

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Old 05-28-2010, 01:03 PM   #5
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How much of it do you think is due to easy credit and buy-it-now plans? Why save if I can just charge it?

Or how much of it do you think is what you see your parents do? My parents were huge savers. My mom used to make me save 75% of my take home when I had my high school job.

I run into a lot of people my age (low 40s) who say "why save for retirement, I'll never be able to retire anyways."
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Old 05-28-2010, 01:08 PM   #6
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I run into a lot of people my age (low 40s) who say "why save for retirement, I'll never be able to retire anyways."
That doesn't make sense to me. "For retirement" is just a phrase. Why not just save and, if you can't retire, you might be able to work less or something. Is this more an excuse than a reality?
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Old 05-28-2010, 01:22 PM   #7
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I remarried into a family that has a few parasites and it has given me an eye opening perspective on giving. In order for this relationship to go on you need a willing host and a willing parasite. The parasite part is easy, but the revelation for me is that a lot of the hosts really get a lot of enjoyment from their side of the deal. They can control the lives of the parasite(s) somewhat, they get to be the big shot who has the extra money to spare and the status that goes with that, and they feel good about themselves because they have "helped" someone out.

Me - I'm the cheap b@st@rd that "has all his money invested", unavailable for "loans".
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Old 05-28-2010, 01:48 PM   #8
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The parasite part is easy, but the revelation for me is that a lot of the hosts really get a lot of enjoyment from their side of the deal.
Shrewd observation. I think in my cousin's case it is more that he knows he will run out of life long before he runs out of money, and he doesn't want to offend his (relatively) YoungKittyKat.

Ha
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:04 PM   #9
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Shrewd observation. I think in my cousin's case it is more that he knows he will run out of life long before he runs out of money, and he doesn't want to offend his (relatively) YoungKittyKat.

Ha
Watch kittykat's claws come out if dear old dad tells her he is leaving all of his estate to the Salvation Army or the Sierrra Club...

Unfortunately, through his largesse, he is doing nothing to teach her how to be independent and make her way in the world. Sad, really...
But, maybe that's just me...
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:20 PM   #10
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Is it generational? Then how do you explain all the baby boomers who haven't saved a dime?

These are individuals. Some get it, some don't. And some parents enable them and others don't. Though you have every right to be judgmental about anything you want - especially here.

I know people in their 40s & 50s who have a good balance between saving for the future and living in the present, and others who don't have a clue. Same with the few people I know in their 30s and mid/late 20s.
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:34 PM   #11
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Have a neice who was given the option of cash for a down payment on a house or spend $100,000 on a wedding. Guess which she chose...
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:35 PM   #12
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As someone at 31, most of the people that I know professionally in my day job save reasonable well. I'm sure that it's influenced by working in civil engineering and construction for my day job, where there is both decent money as well as a lot of conservative people who plan far ahead. In my othre job sailing, there is next to no saving happening, but it's more an artifact of the wages. Go figure - playing on tallships doesn't pay as well as 40 in an office chair designing infrastructure. In a lot of ways, I think that many people my age aren't saving for retirement so much as having rainy day funds with an eye towards being able to afford to work in what/how they would like. It's the people living cheap on the boats and doing endless summers, it's my friend who was a rock climing instructor road-tripping for 3 years (of course, he has mech engineering degree, got bored, quit climbing when his car died, picked up a masters in architecture, and now makes 3 times what I do), and it's the young people living cheaply that I met in the Obama campaign online volunteer group - that group networks still, finding people interesting job opportunities, cheap living spaces, spots to travel to. I think that my generation has less focus on a career and more on experience while still working. We don't really expect to get our social security, so it's more about making enough while doing things that are interesting along the way.
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:41 PM   #13
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IMO, anyone under the age of 40 (maybe 50) who assumes that most of their retirement needs will be met by employers and/or government is setting themselves up for massive failure. For the real young'uns, even though it makes a crappy job market for those just starting out, at least they can see all the budgets hemorrhaging red ink and read the writing on the wall.

I was very fortunate to have "seen the light" very early on, saving aggressively for retirement since my early 20s. As I've said before, if I hadn't done that -- especially in hindsight after Megacorp scrapped its pension plan and retiree health insurance -- I'd be lucky to be able to retire at 67 when full SS kicks in (assuming).....
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:43 PM   #14
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Have a neice who was given the option of cash for a down payment on a house or spend $100,000 on a wedding. Guess which she chose...
I have a niece who got just about the opposite for her wedding -- a $10K gift from her dad to be used as part of a down payment fund.

Though I should point out the wedding was hardly spartan; she did marry into money.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 05-28-2010, 02:48 PM   #15
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As someone at 31, most of the people that I know professionally in my day job save reasonable well. I'm sure that it's influenced by working in civil engineering and construction for my day job, where there is both decent money as well as a lot of conservative people who plan far ahead.
I'm in the same general line of work, and I see generally responsible people working with me. But like you say, higher than average incomes. Add that to good spreadsheeting ability generally and good math skills, and it becomes a no brainer to save some. Of course civil engineering itself is a stable mundane profession that pays reasonably well and isn't too full of financial job risks. You will likely never strike it crazy rich either.

But taking a look past my immediate colleagues, I know a lot of people who are more entitlement mentality or fail to understand the relationship between earning a limited amount of money and being able to spend a limited amount of money. The classic ""why save for X, I'll never be able to obtain X anyways." X being retirement, cash for a new(er) car, a house down payment, a wedding, a vacation, a big tv, etc. It is easier to charge it on the card or tap the HELOC. Or it is easier to have a monthly payment on that new house or new car that is "just" a couple hundred higher per month, "because I can afford it and I deserve it". Yet they can't figure out why they are always broke.

I do think the recent economic downturn has brought the concepts of "saving", budgeting, and "not wasting every penny you get paid and then some" back to the forefront of consciousness.
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Old 05-28-2010, 02:56 PM   #16
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I do think the recent economic downturn has brought the concepts of "saving", budgeting, and "not wasting every penny you get paid and then some" back to the forefront of consciousness.
I think so. Overconsumption, "affluenza" and debt is falling more and more out of fashion, though there are many folks who won't give it up without a fight (or until they go broke completely).

As far as depriving yourself of instant gratification until you can actually have the cash to buy it, this is what Dave Ramsey calls "living like no one else so you can live like no one else." Though I think a few more people are catching on to "living like no one else," whether by absolute financial urgency or by fear of what lies ahead.

Sometimes I want to get a bumpersticker that reads, "I was a cheapskate before it was cool." Of course, then I'd have to go and buy it.
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"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)

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Old 05-28-2010, 03:02 PM   #17
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Thinking about it a bit more, one reason that I may have a biased view about my generation is that the people I see tend to be either the engineers or the people conciously living hand-to-mouth or a bit more. I think that the great masses that seem to get into so much trouble are the ones who assume income stability that really isn't there. The people I know who travel and busk or odd-job KNOW that the income is fleeting. The engineers are in a stable field with high entry costs, so stable income expections are realistic. Its the people with regular paychecks who take financial risks (buying a house, spending up credit cards) who end up out on a limb. I do think that my perspective is being biased by the people that I interact with.
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Old 05-28-2010, 03:05 PM   #18
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As someone at 31, most of the people that I know professionally in my day job save reasonable well. I'm sure that it's influenced by working in civil engineering and construction for my day job, where there is both decent money as well as a lot of conservative people who plan far ahead. In my othre job sailing, there is next to no saving happening, but it's more an artifact of the wages. Go figure - playing on tallships doesn't pay as well as 40 in an office chair designing infrastructure. In a lot of ways, I think that many people my age aren't saving for retirement so much as having rainy day funds with an eye towards being able to afford to work in what/how they would like. It's the people living cheap on the boats and doing endless summers, it's my friend who was a rock climing instructor road-tripping for 3 years (of course, he has mech engineering degree, got bored, quit climbing when his car died, picked up a masters in architecture, and now makes 3 times what I do), and it's the young people living cheaply that I met in the Obama campaign online volunteer group - that group networks still, finding people interesting job opportunities, cheap living spaces, spots to travel to. I think that my generation has less focus on a career and more on experience while still working. We don't really expect to get our social security, so it's more about making enough while doing things that are interesting along the way.
I could never disagree with this attitude. It is the insane expenditures that seem, well insane.
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Have a neice who was given the option of cash for a down payment on a house or spend $100,000 on a wedding. Guess which she chose...
God, I hope she didn't choose the wedding.

Ha
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Old 05-28-2010, 03:05 PM   #19
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God, I hope she didn't choose the wedding.

Ha
She did!
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Old 05-28-2010, 03:24 PM   #20
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I think so. Overconsumption, "affluenza" and debt is falling more and more out of fashion, though there are many folks who won't give it up without a fight (or until they go broke completely).
I think today if I went up to a random friend or associate and said "I don't own a cell phone because they are too darn expensive and we just can't afford it anymore", most people would not blink an eye. If I would have tried that 3 years ago, the response probably would have been "what you can't afford $100 a month? I thought you were doing well."
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