Dear Mrs. Riches:
My fiancee and I live together and share expenses. Due to be married in the spring, we are saving up for a honeymoon that will rival all honeymoons. The trouble? This type of expense is well beyond what each of us can afford to pay on our starter salaries. My answer is to budget and save. Hers is that we'll get money for wedding gifts and we can use that to pay off our honeymoon charges on the credit card -- no sweat. I have tried to point out that counting on money from our guests isn't really a great strategy, but she says I am being a stick-in-the-mud (in less nice terms). Got any ideas to make budgeting look more appealing to my bride-to-be?
-- Begging to Budget
Dear Begging to Budget:
Your honeymoon plans hint at being fabulous, so there's a very big carrot dangling out there already. The trouble is that your beloved is certain she can get the carrot without doing any hard work (unless you count selecting bridesmaids' dresses). It's this attitude that would make me very afraid.
Here's the deal: Giving in now may well seal your fate with your future wife. Today, blithely charging a honeymoon you can't afford; tomorrow, buying a house that's a financial stretch "because we deserve it." High-priced baby items, furniture for the new house, and a fancy new car -- all of those can be charged with the idea of paying them off later. The trouble with living beyond your means is that it's addictive. Before you know it, you'll have enslaved yourselves to some credit card behemoth that would like its money back (plus fees and megainterest charges, please).
I'd go to the mat for this one -- not only because doing otherwise imperils your future, but because this is setting up a precedent of sorts for how the two of you will handle big money issues throughout your marriage. Allowing one partner to steamroll the other into a stupid idea isn't a great template for marital or financial harmony. (And what's up with the name-calling? Cry foul right away. There's no room in a happy, healthy relationship for a bully -- even one in yards and yards of tulle.)
Talk to your honey again. Pass on articles about the perils of credit card debt. Map out your plan for saving for the honeymoon. Should she continue to give you a hard time, show her the honeymoon you can truly afford at this point: a tent in the living room and a box of wine from the grocery store, perhaps? If she's still not convinced, you'll have to be willing to bet the farm (and the marriage) on this one. Hopefully, she'll give budgeting a try when she sees how important it is to you. If she doesn't care, however, you'll need to see the writing on the wall. Problems like these don't go away.
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