More Bang For Your Buck

Recently I posted about: All the Money in the World: What the Happiest People Know About Getting and Spending, by Laura Vanderkam. One of the things she mentions is that the average cost of an engagement ring today is: $5,392. Wow. That could be a used car for some folks. Add the engagement ring to the cost of the wedding itself (flowers, dress, reception, food, venue, etc). It adds up quickly. My question is – is it all necessary? Chris and I got married on a beach in Hawaii for basically the cost of a honeymoon. Even doing that, it was expensive, but it was nothing like what the cost could have been if we had a traditional wedding + a honeymoon. I appreciate what Laura says in her book:

“With the same $5,392 the average couple spends on an engagement ring, a set of new parents could pay a babysitter $50 a night for 107 nights so they could have time to themselves or go neck in their car like teenagers. The $12,124 The Knot reports the average couple spends on a reception venue could cover a $100 housecleaning service, twice a month, for the entire five years many two-kid couples spend in that sticky stage when children spill milk just to see what will happen. The average $1,988 florist and decor bill could be doled out, instead, as 198 thinking-of-you $10 bouquets–a once-a-month gesture of love for a solid 16.5 years.” page 22

Laura also talks about what would bring more joy to your marriage. Does the American Dream and picket fence really make you satisfied? Or are you more interested in traveling and learning about other cultures? If so, are you paying more for a car or home then you really need? Are you doing it because it makes you happy, or is it because it is what you think you should be doing? What is more responsible? What causes you less stress? I often think of things pertaining to money in terms of justification. If I do not buy this now, I will have enough money for something else later. Much like what Laura mentions about $1,988 in flowers could give you 198 $10 thinking of you bouquets a month for 16.5 months. What has more bang for your buck?

We have so many different ideas and options  before us. Are we asking the questions of what is best for us and our families, or are we making choices just to keep up with the Jones’? Do we really need the big elaborate wedding, or engagement ring, or are we best prepared if we put that money towards our future? Or towards our emergency funds?

What do you think?