After the wedding-day euphoria dissipates and couples start seriously thinking about the rest of their lives together, many newlyweds wish they'd spent less cash on their big day. In a survey of 13,000 U.S. brides and grooms married last year, the average wedding cost a staggering $30,000 -- an all-time high. And that isn't even including the honeymoon, which runs about $5,000 on average.
With money problems cited as one of the top reasons marriages fail, draining our piggy banks on our wedding day holds potential for starting our marriage on the wrong foot. Instead of plunking down a whopping $35,000 on average, let's see what financial options we open up by spending far less.
Saving now can buy you lots of options later
Let's assume you and your spouse-to-be spend half the average amount on your big day and save the rest. Regardless of your financial goals, $17,500 is a terrific head start. Consider how this hypothetical savings can make a huge dent in seven common financial goals of newlyweds.
Goal No. 1: "We want to buy a home."
The $17,500 saved secures half of a traditional 20% down payment on a $175,000 home. And with mortgage interest rates near all-time lows, getting in a house now as opposed to in a few years -- when rates may well be higher -- can also save you money in mortgage interest over the life of your loan.
Goal No. 2: "We have student loans to pay off."
The average student loan balance per U.S. household is roughly $33,607, according to Nerd Wallet. Assuming you and your intended hold an average level of student loan debt, that $17,500 savings could eliminate more than half this amount of debt.
Goal No. 3: "We want to pay off our credit card debt."
According to Nerd Wallet, the average credit card debt per indebted household is roughly $15,191, and the average APR on credit cards with balances is 13%. Assuming an average level of credit card debt, a couple could wipe this out completely with the above-mentioned $17,500 savings.
Goal No. 4: "Someday we want to have a child. Ideally, we'd like to pay for our kid's college education."
One of the best ways to help your child with the rising cost of college is to get a head start on savings. By investing in a 529 college savings plan returning an assumed 7% annually for a future child, the $17,500 saved would grow to nearly $68,000 in 20 years.
Goal No. 5: "Our dream is to travel the world."
A couple could use the $17,500 saved to take one $4,375 vacation every other year for the next eight years. A honeymoon on a scaled-back budget doesn't sound so bad now, does it?
Goal No. 6: "We want to start our own business someday."
Since 73% of small businesses are funded with personal savings, the more you've saved, the more likely you'll be able to fund your venture. Invested at 2.25% annually in a five-year certificate of deposit, $17,500 would give the couple nearly $19,600 start their business. This cash could be the difference between chasing a dream and letting it die on the vine.
Goal No. 7: "We'd love to retire early."
For a couple marrying when each spouse is 30 years old, that $17,500 savings could grow in a retirement account, assuming a reasonable 7% annual rate of return, to a remarkable $133,000 nest egg when the couple is 60 years old. If you love what you do for a living and want to delay retirement, your $17,500 savings could grow to $262,000 at age 70.
Before shelling out any money on your walk down the aisle, consider fast-tracking your financial future with a portion of these funds. By doing so, you'll get an enormous head start on your financial goals.
Top dividend stocks for the next decade
The smartest investors know that dividend stocks simply crush their non-dividend paying counterparts over the long term. That’s beyond dispute. They also know that a well-constructed dividend portfolio creates wealth steadily, while still allowing you to sleep like a baby. Knowing how valuable such a portfolio might be, our top analysts put together a report on a group of high-yielding stocks that should be in any income investor’s portfolio. To see our free report on these stocks, just click here now.
Follow Nicole Seghetti on Twitter @NicoleSeghetti. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.