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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

252

Finance 101: Debit Cards, Weddings, and Peaceful New Careers

The news that Bank of America is now charging $5 a month for debit card usage pisses me off. I really want to close my checking account there and open another one somewhere else that won’t charge me, but I heard that closing a checking account affects your credit score?

The short answer is that closing a checking account won’t really do any harm to your credit report. You won’t get shunned by society at large for leaving Bank of America. Here’s the long answer: What does affect your credit is when you open a new account. When you open up a new bank account, some banks will do an inquiry into your credit, known as a “hard pull." This will affect your FICO score for about 12 months, but marginally. Usually it takes off 5 points on your FICO score on average.

What you really need to look out for is if you can open up a new account. Banks don’t just look at your FICO score, they also dig into something called a ChexSystems report, which looks into your past with previous bank accounts. If you've overdrawn your account, it would be on there. I know, how judgy of them. Luckily, you can look at your own ChexSystems report for free online. As long as it’s decent, you should have no problem finding a new place to stash your cash.

But OK, now I’m going to burst your bubble a bit. As good as it feels to stick it to goliath Bank of America, you may face this problem again at another bank. BofA isn’t the only one planning to end free checking. Due to new laws banning previous fees, banks are coming up with new and creative ways to get revenue, since they're all pretty much in the same boat. I would go so far to say that in a few years, you won’t find a bank that doesn’t charge for a debit card. Sorry to break it to you.

If this is too much to bear, there are some options. First, banks will waive fees if you have a certain amount of money in your account (or a few other factors). So do some research, ideally with a real, live person, and see if you can work something out.  The other option is what I like to call “old-timey banking." Here’s what you do: Get rid of your debit card. Request a card with only ATM usage from the bank.

Hell, if you’re a real masochist, have NO card and go to a teller every time you need cash! (For real, don’t do that last part, I’m JK.) This move would be annoying, but I think financially beneficial to a lot of people. Overusing debit cards have caused many to sort of become numb to how much money they're spending. Using cash for most purchases can help bring folks back to reality that every time you buy something it cost REAL MONEY.

I’m getting married in the spring and the budget is already causing problems among me, my fiancé, and my family. Both of our parents are chipping in for the wedding, we’re paying for the rest, and things just keep ballooning. Both our parents say they won’t give anymore, which is fine. We can cover it, but just barely. There is also some friction about my dress. I found one that's absolutely perfect, and I felt so great when I tried it on, but it's $4,800. I haven’t bought it yet, but my fiancé says it’s ridiculous to pay that much. I know its extravagant, but this is my wedding and I want it to be memorable. I also feel like we’ll make up for a lot of the costs with the gifts from the registry. So my question is, is my fiancé right about the dress? And are there any ways to save money on the wedding?

First, congrats on the nuptials! A few months ago I got a chance to speak with a one of the co-founders of TheKnot. Uh, they know some stuff about weddings! And it must have been fate, because I asked him "what’s the best way to reduce the budget of a wedding?" and he was ADAMANT about his answer. He knew it in his heart of hearts. You ready? He said you have to cut the guest list. That is the quickest and easiest way to save costs. Think about it. Let’s say your wedding is $100 a head, and you’re inviting 140 people. Now let’s cut that number to 115, and beep boop bop, you saved $2,500!

I understand that not inviting some random Great Aunt who lives 1,000 miles away or your roommate from college you don’t really talk to anymore might be tough and cause some fights. But I’m not here to tell you how to solve those battles, I’m here to save you cash.

Now the thing you were saying about the registry making up for the wedding costs. That’s not a really good way of thinking. I would actually say that’s bad! First off, never underestimate the true cost of the wedding when all is said and done. And comparing what you spend at your wedding to gifts you receive after is a serious apples to oranges problem. One hundred bucks you spend toward flowers may be the same amount as a kick-ass coffee maker, but it's not like you're getting that money back. I feel like that sort of thinking gives people the excuse to spend more, because you somehow think it's boomeranging back to you. When really you could have pocketed the money and used it for, oh I don’t know, your gas bill.

While we’re on the subject of the registry though, I encourage you to look into getting a down payment registry. I know mixers and towels rock your world, but most couples have everything they need for the home already. A down payment registry can really give you a head start on owning a home.

Here’s the thing about the dress: I don’t think it’s about the dress. Weddings are stressful, and cause normally rational people to go a bit crazy. I think that your hubby-to-be may be taking out some of his worries/frustrations on your pretty dress because he doesn’t have any control over it. When he sees you that day, looking all gorgeous, I think he’ll forget how much it was and any previous fights over it. However, since you have the time, try checking out sample sales to see if something similar, or even your very dress, grabs your attention. You never know! And at the wedding, when people compliment the gown, you can go “I got it on SALE!” I know that’s kinda tacky, but I would totally do that.

I really, really, really hate my job. I work in an office all day, and hate the people and what I do with my time. It’s totally unsatisfying. The only thing that really picks me up is yoga. I’ve been practicing yoga for years, and lately I’ve been thinking about quitting my job and becoming a yoga instructor. I already have $6,000 saved, which more than covers the training I need for certification. I know it’s a risk, but I really feel like this would make me happy. Is this PROFOUNDLY irresponsible?

Don’t quit your job and become a yoga instructor ... right now. I think it’s great for people who have relatively little obligations to change career paths and find out what they really want to do, but you need to have a PLAN to do it. And, for the record, a plan is more than just Googling how much yoga training costs.  This economy is no joke right now, and job safety is not something to screw around with. So if you really, really, really want to do this, you have to be disciplined and understand you might fail. So let’s walk, not run, to your next career.

First, you need to save up to cover at least three months of expenses. Ideally six months. I would recommend not only saving, but cutting back as well. Since yoga instructors don’t usually make as much as people who work office jobs (or have health insurance), you’ll need to downsize anyway. So get a roommate, turn in your car, do what you have to do.

While you're saving, do some research. Talk to as many yoga instructors as you can. Ask them questions like, “How did you first get hired?” or “How many classes do you teach a week?” Try to find out the ins and out of yoganomics. If I were in your shoes I would also find someone who’s really made a success in this field — the Oprah of yoga, if you will. They may be willing to give insights and advice you wouldn’t have figured out on your own.

It’s also a little scary to change up career paths and teach yoga if you've never taught a class before. Try hosting a little yoga party for your buddies. If you shine like a yoga star, that’s great! If it totally sucks, at least you know! Getting your friends involved will also help spread word of mouth, which you will need when you try to find work.

Namaste!

Erin Dresch is the producer of business news at NY1, a local news station in New York City. Do you have a question for Erin?

Photo by James Steidl, via Shutterstock

252 Comments / Post A Comment

Carrot Cake

It's an imperffect but often suitable rule that the dress should run about 10% of the budget, including alterations and accessories.

I would never tell anyone how much is appropriate to spend on a dress, but if the one you love is slightly more than the magic 10%, think about other ways to save. As Erin said, cutting the guest list is the fastest way to save money.

I skimped on flowers because our wedding was in an outdoor courtyard, so it was already pretty to me. And I hired an up-and-coming photographer who might not have years of experience but tons of natural talent. You just have to pick what is important, together, and compromise.

Carrot Cake

Also: preownedweddingdresses.com

I got my dress at the Filene's Basement Running of the brides for $600.

http://www.filenesbasement.com/running-of-the-brides/

Full disclosure: I used to work in the violently disliked Wedding Industrial Complex. The particular shop I worked at sold dresses to the first website. Because of my experience I was a little better prepared than I would have been otherwise for the running of the brides; keep in mind if you go that it is a crazy, crazy day.

As an aside, we're not all bad in the complex; obviously imperffffect, though.

cc
cc

@Carrot Cake omg i got my gown at filene's too! SALE twinsies!! XD

srsly though the morning of my wedding, my makeup artist was gasping over my dress, she said "you know this is designer right??"
...wait for it...

"Yes, i got it on SALE!"

Carrot Cake

@cc Yay for success at Filene's! It was seriously scary up in there, and I absolutely spent the following two days in the fetal position recovering from the madness.

Congrats on your wedding, and a high-five for sale twinsies!

cc
cc

@Carrot Cake lol we totes earned those "i survived the running of the brides" tshirts ;D
congrats girlie!

cloudmir

@Carrot Cake Regarding flowers, a friend told me that he saved a shitload on his wedding by ordering flowers through Costco (!). He said they got a 'refrigerator-sized' palate of flowers for $600, which would have run thousands of dollars if they'd gone with a florist.

If I do a non-city-hall wedding, I will probably go with lots of the options here:
Posted on October 5, 2011 at 4:57 pm

cloudmir

Ugh, tried to edit my post too many times. Here's the link to Costco wedding stuff.

selasphorus

@Carrot Cake
That's what I did. Gorgeous flowers so cheap, and you can order the ones you want- you don't have to empty out the display case the day of the wedding.

Re dresses: I think spending money on the dress is the worst investment you can make in pretty much anything. $4800 for something you will wear once and that you have a 50% chance of later serving only to remind you of your divorce. It is far more important to have the people you love there than make sure you have the "perfect"dress. I spent $400 on mine and I can't wait to sell it. It's seriously odd to put that much meaning into a piece of fabric! And shame on all the bridal magazines for making women think the perfect dress is so important.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@selasphorus. Word. I tried on a gorgeous peachy-oyster silk dress, I absolutely loved it, but even with 40% off it was still over $2000. Got a dress off the rack that was 1/4 price (and incidentally 10% of budget). You know what? It was great. I looked terrific, had a great time and was completely OK with not having the heartstopping dress. I can have super nice things later, when I am older and Have Things.

Carrot Cake

@selasphorus Absolutely. I asked our wonderful flower vendor what was in season and we went from there.

That's the great thing about planning weddings with your partner. It's a real exercise in setting a budget and planning a party, and negotiating what is important to the two people involved, and the family, if they need to be included. The dress may be really important to one person or couple, and not as important to another. Some people spend a lot on photography, food, or favors. Some people have pot-lucks, go barefoot, and buy a house. Some people elope, and that sounds like fun. I think it's all good.

I cut my wedding dress off, and I'm going to have it dyed purple. I love that dress, it's the nicest frock I've ever owned, and I can keep wearing it! Just not in that Miss Havisham way.

rayray

YESSS I've been wanting a financial advice column on The Hairpin for ages!

nogreeneggs

@rayray I was actually thinking the other day of pitching this idea to Edith, rats! My advice would have been slightly more blunt though.

LastMinuteLulu

Did I write that first question in my sleep? Because I needed that answered! What the what?! THANK YOU, HAIRPIN, for always knowing what's on my mind, sometimes before even I do.

charizard

I'm gonna go ahead and recommend that you avoid any wedding budget advice from someone who works at the Knot.

You're concerned about your budget and that it's threatening your wedding. Don't cut out loved family members so you can spend thousands of dollars on a dress. I'd call the theknot.com advisor nuts if I wasn't convinced that they've consumed an entire gallon of Wedding Industrial Complex Flavor-Aid.

pedgehog

@charizard THANK YOU! I was staring at that answer and wondering how great a dress would have to make me feel to CUT people from my guest list for it! I guess if I get married in an empty room I can have the fanciest dress of all! Forget sharing a special day with people who love you! IT'S ALL ABOUT SPENDING RIDICULOUS AMOUNTS OF MONEY TO LOOK/FEEL PRETTY. That is true love.

katerrific

@charizard YESSSS. Question person, please proceed directly to my favoritest favorite wedding blog, apracticalwedding.com, and seek your answers there, NOT the Knot. God, I'm shuddering even typing the word.

smidge

@katerrific Broke-Ass Bride is a good website, too. I can totally understand that this is a once in a lifetime chance for you to wear your dream dress, but there are cheaper options, and you don't want to start your new life together in debt.

SarahP

@charizard I see where you're coming from, but wedding guests lists can get really bloated really quickly, and if she's trying to save money in general, that's a good place. She doesn't have to hack the list down indiscriminately, but I bet there are a few people (who aren't loved family members) whom they don't have to invite.

ThatWench

@charizard Okay, so while I haven't planned a wedding myself, I've started to deal with the insanity that is friends around me doing it. (And I really, really loathe the Bridal-Industrial Complex.) And I think the important thing to note in the guy's response is that he was speaking generally. As in, looking at weddings generally, venue & especially food and drink wind up being huuuuge cost factors, and yeah, if you have a big guest list including great-aunt myrtle, then that's a place to look for savings. I think anyone in their right mind, looking at the specifics of a $4,800 dollar dress, would be like, "NO! Drop it! Drooopp it....! Now, please!" Which means I put the silliness of that response on this column, rather than website-that-shall-not-be-named guy. (Like, evil website guy might also have been wrong-headed enough to say "cut the guest list for a $4,800 dress," but he didn't actually say that here.)

Olivia2.0

@katerrific Ohhh, thanks for the link!!!

charizard

@ThatWench "Which means I put the silliness of that response on this column"

I'm inclined to agree, if only because the the columnist talked to a Knot person "a few months ago" and is using Knotguy's unrelated (yet valid, in some situations) advice in context of buying an expensive dress. It doesn't flow very well (but it spurred on comments like whoa, so success!)

cloudmir

@charizard I have heard very bad things about The Knot from two different friends who got married/engaged within the last year, both having to do with using/selling/publishing their personal information (wedding date, fiancé's name, etc.). And I cannot even FATHOM spending more than a few hundred bucks on an uncomfortable dress that you'll wear only once, but I seem to be in the minority.

Fig. 1 (formerly myfanwy)

@cloudmir Has nobody recommended Offbeat Bride yet? Offbeat Bride! Terrific book, excellent website, kept me realistic.

brista128

@charizard My engaged friend just signed up for the Knot and even though she specifically checked the "don't give my info to other companies," two days later she started getting calls and e-mails from various wedding companies. MYSTERIOUS.

cloudmir

@brista128 My friend who registered with the Knot said that exactly one year to the day after her wedding, they started sending her emails about baby products.

bocadelperro

@katerrific Thanks for these websites, guys. My SO and I are talking about the whole marriage thing, and every time I look into what it takes to have a wedding, I quake in terror. It's nice to know there's something between "monster wedding" and "driving to Reno" out there.

graffin

$4,800 for a dress? That shit had better light up and have an ipod docking station.

Forget that dress. I bet if you keep looking you will find another "perfect" dress for less than a thousand bucks.

charizard

@graffin Less than a thousand bucks? Fuck that, get a two hundred-dollar dress off the rack. Wait, fuck that, forget the dress and get married in something you already own. You won't feel like Catherine Middleton, but you won't be starting off a marriage by fucking up your entire financial life over an article of clothing. Really now.

karion

@charizard: Or Craigslist or some bridal resale site. Take advantage of women who got sucked into the hype and are now trying to unload a dress that costs as much as a used car, but was only worn for three hours.

SarahP

@karion This is a good idea, especially because it will also show the bride that she will never recoup even close to that $4800 if she bought and tried to resell the dress.

If she's really partial to a pattern or fit or style, should could have a dress custom made for at LEAST half that price.

parallel-lines

@karion The big problem with buying used dresses is a lot of tailors won't take it in for under $500--so you end up eating a lot of money trying to take the cheap way out.

charizard

@karion I like this idea, but couples suckered into spending thousands on a dress often go on to spend thousands on wedding dress preservation services. Because we all know that the marriage won't last if it isn't responsible for a decades-old, mint-condition ugly dress. (Personally, I cut a few silk scraps from the dress I wore on my wedding day and tucked them away into my trinkets box. I gave away the rest of the dress, which had long since ceased to fit.)

synchronia

@parallel-lines But people usually need to get new dresses altered too. (Tailoring might be cheaper with a new one since it's being taken in for the first time... but that's not going to outweigh the cost of a new dress.)

Ophelia

@charizard Or...if you're looking for something simple/classic anyway, go to a place that makes bridesmaid dresses, and have them make it in ivory or white. I got a gorgeous dress, made of actual silk, for $215. Even with some tailoring, it came out to under $300.

charizard

@Ophelia If color is the only issue, I noticed that typical shopping venues such as Nordstrom and others carry perfectly elegant white dresses.

Bittersweet

@charizard: I had my dress custom-made for $800 in 1996, which is $1,100 in today's money. It fit perfectly and was designed by me. And the seamstress was a delight to work with, unlike 95% of the bridal store employees I'd previously dealt with. Score!

fondue with cheddar

@charizard I wore a $400 dress from David's. I loved it and everyone thought I looked fantastic. It was more important to me to have the wedding at a nice venue with great food than have an expensive dress that I would never wear again. It's all about priorities.

jennfizz

@charizard I wore a beautiful $25 dollar dress that I found at a vintage store. I didn't even have to pay to have it altered. On top of that, if your husband's eyes don't light up on your wedding day--he's a fucking losers and DHFA. I would run screaming from the room if some one I knew (much less wanted to marry) thought it was OK to spend beyond thier means for a fucking dress that you only wear once.

Emma K@twitter

@graffin I got my $450 wedding dress on ebay and had it altered for $90. This amount of $ still managed to horrify at least one of my friends.

Posey

In the spirit of helpful advice away from a $4500 dress, I got mine at Nicole Miller, who seems to have as her ethic the design of many COMFORTABLE wedding dresses that run around the $600-$1000 price range. I've never felt more gorgeous, especially given that the dress, while a splurge, didn't break the bank.

KatieWK

@graffin I went with Rent the Runway, because I didn't want/couldn't afford a "real" wedding dress and couldn't bear the thought of going out and buying a random dress that would then sit in my closet forever. (Could I rewear it to a party? Someone else's wedding? Who knows?) I got a beautiful, $1,500 Temperley dress (a label the Middleton sisters ACTUALLY WEAR OMG) in the mail for $150 the day before I got married. Luckily, it fit like a charm, and the morning after I got to drop it in a mailbox and forget about it, which was much easier to do with a hangover than say, boxing up a 25-pound bedazzled monstrosity. Not necessarily for the faint of heart, but for me it was stress-free and fun, and I got to wear a beautiful dress for cheap.

Texian

@Bittersweet I designed my dress and my mom made it. It was a wonderful experience including muslin mock-ups and a dress-makers dummy with my exact measurements. The resulting dress is beautiful. Mom didn't talk cost but I would put it at $500. It is actually priceless!

Kivrin

Kudos to you, Erin, for providing such measured, kind, and intelligent advice in response to these questions. My responses would have been similar in terms of the financial wisdom but WILDLY different (read: incredulous and judgmental) in tone.

Kivrin

@Kivrin: Also, "And are there any ways to save money on the wedding?" ELOPE. It's awesome. Especially if you aren't wild about (or, in my case, are estranged from) your family. ;)

Quick Brown Fox

Seriously? Do not spend that much money on the dress. The dress is not what will make your wedding memorable.

jennfizz

@Quick Brown Fox: I was completely blown away. CREDIT UNIONS, People, do it and do it now.

misskaz

How is it possible that the first question was answered with anything other than *credit unions* (or USAA if you're eligible)?

parallel-lines

@misskaz Are most people eligible for that? I checked into a few and I wasn't...

antarcticastartshere

@misskaz Yes! Also local banks.

Kivrin

@antarcticastartshere: Hmm, yes, all those adorable little local banks—which are rapidly failing and/or being bought out by BofA, Wells Fargo, Citi, etc. :(

backstagebethy

@parallel-lines The requirements for my CU are pretty flexible--a list of businesses and schools, but also if you "live, work, worship, volunteer, attend school" in a range of counties around the area.

backstagebethy

@Kivrin Maybe the middle ground of a regional bank? Mine (BB&T, mainly in the southeast) is fantastic, although they did start charging for checking last year if you don't do direct deposit or meet some other standards. But they've always treated me very well.

queenieliz

@misskaz Exactly what I was going to say! Credit unions pay better interest and charge less and benefit their communities. I loved my credit union, then I moved and switched to Washington Mutual/Chase and need to switch back. (or get an ING free checking account if you can deal with online only banking)

julia

@misskaz Yes, USAA is the very, very best. Customer service, insurance, credit card interest rate, and they refund ATM fees because they don't have a brick-and-mortar bank. And their android app makes depositing checks a snap. And I love them.

misskaz

@parallel-lines As others have said, many cities have local credit unions that have very minimum requirements.

Also, anyone can open a USAA checking account, although you have to be eligible for membership (military or family of military) to get some of the cool features like depositing checks via phone or scan. In any case, no fees including ATM fees and they even reimburse you for the ATM fees charged by the bank that owns the ATM. I love USAA.

charizard

@misskaz Seconded! Also, check out online-only banks. I use ING Direct - while it is Citibank owned now, and while it might decide to introduce fees down the line, it's simpler to wrangle the simplicity of an online bank than the hard sell from brick and mortar institutions. I have a few friends who use Charles Schwab as well.

Kivrin

@backstagebethy Yes, a regional bank like BB&T is not a bad idea: More stable than a local bank, maybe less likely to be evil than one of the Big Banks...

candybeans

@antarcticastartshere @parallel-lines There are usually county- or city-based credit unions that anyone who lives within certain geographic borders are eligible for, which is what I use and quite like. The downside is ATM access for no fee is a bit more limited once you leave that geographic area. I have to go through quite a bit to deposit checks these days. Still will stick with credit unions, however.

PistolPackinMama

@misskaz HELL YES to USAA. They are so, so good.

Emma Peel

@misskaz My concern about credit unions is I'm pretty transient and not even close to settling in one city for the foreseeable future. I like having a bank that's super-convenient (ATM check deposit, ATMs everywhere, branches everywhere) and where I'm pretty certain I won't have to close my account if I move. Plus, my mom can put $25 of mad money in my account as a surprise once in awhile. :) I hear so many great things about credit unions that I consider switching, but I'm not sure I can give up B of A's convenience.

alabee

@misskaz SRSLY. I was irrationally irritated by that glaring omission! Credit union! Stick it to the banks.

pointy

@misskaz Thanks for that re USAA; I keep seeing paeans to them all over the internet tied to assertions that you don't have to be military-connected to bank with them, but when I dug a little on their website it did seem like some of the appealing features are only available if you are eligible for membership.

On credit unions, the thing I worry about is stability of their IT systems. It seems like bigger banks have more money to pour into their online billpay systems. Also my impression is that finding an eligible credit union in NYC is a bit tougher than in some other places.

charizard

@julieta ING Direct is great for the mom donations. They offer a Person to Person instant transfer if you both use ING. Having an online-only bank is awesome because I'm super transient the last few years.

antarcticastartshere

@julieta I just opened an account with Ally (another online-only bank) so I can leave BofA--you might want to check them out. They reimburse ATM fees from other banks every month since they don't have an ATM network and they have an online money transfer system that even transfers between accounts at other banks (this was a must-have for me). Other online banks do the same things.

empathicalist

@charizard I thought it was owned by Capital One now? I bank with INGDirect as well, and love being able to have multiple savings accounts. Plus, the ATM networks they use are huge - it's much easier for me to find a free ATM than anyone with a traditional bank. They just added the ability to write paper checks, and it looks like they are on the final stages of offering check deposit via photo.

antarcticastartshere

@pointy Ehhh considering I've had on-and-off access to online banking at BofA since the day after they announced the new debit card fees....

backstagebethy

@julieta Many CU's do shared branching so location is less of an issue. Not guaranteed to help you but it's something to consider! http://www.cuservicecenter.com/AboutSharedBranching.aspx

SarcasticFringehead

@backstagebethy Exactly! My credit union is part of that, and there are ATMs everywhere. Any branch that is part of that network will let you do basic stuff - deposits, withdrawals, payments, etc. - even if it's not technically the same credit union.

dotcommie

@minijen it's not owned by Capital One yet--the acquisition has been proposed, and it's pending approval by the Fed.

quixotic

@julieta I left a comment below, but I've been using a local CU for the last ten years and have traveled all over the US and to two other continents without a glitch. Many CUs link to other CUs and my bank has even formed a partnership with 7-Eleven to be able to use their ATMs without incurring fees.

madge

guys, check out checkingfinder.com ... i found an account on there that is paying me 2% interest as long as i do 12 debit transactions a month (which i do on coffee alone) and at least 1 ACH transfer. it's nice to get extra $ each month for doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. they refund my ATM fees, too!

ejcsanfran

@misskaz: I have to confess, the lack of any shout out to credit unions in the first answer makes me question the writer's suitability for offering financial advice.

Non-anonymous

@candybeans My work-related credit union allows you to sponsor family members for membership. "Family" here includes not only spouse and children, but siblings, parents, and even grandparents and grandchildren. So if you're looking for a credit union, ask around among your relatives. Worth a shot.

Emma Peel

@antarcticastartshere Oooh, I have an Ally savings account (which I don't use much due to being a deliquent saver) so that's intriguing to me. I looked into credit unions but ended up guessing I'd pay more in ATM fees per month than B of A will charge me for debit usage. I'd switch to Ally in a second if I can convince my roommates to use PayPal for bill reimbursements. :) Thanks!

parallel-lines

You can buy used wedding dresses (there are TONS of sites) but be careful--tailoring can almost make up for the difference. There are also places that do custom tailoring (you send them a picture and they reproduce it) based out of Asia but I can't vouch for their product.

I actually did some hard math last night about my own wedding budget and realized I could buy a sailboat and pay yacht club fees for four years with what it would cost to feed and entertain people for five hours. Put things into perspective.

parallel-lines

@parallel-lines Also, if you do buy THE DRESS, there are websites like http://www.preownedweddingdresses.com where you can sell it -- most people seem to knock 20-50% off the cost of their dress, so you'd at least be able to recover part of your investment. Just don't count on an immediate return since you have no promise that it'll sell...

Maria

@parallel-lines A friend recently did the custom dress from China thing. She did it because she was making her own dress, tried the one she made on, and realized it was see through with not enough time to start over.
I think she was pretty happy with what she got.

backstagebethy

LW1, I would look into a credit union. They tend to be much more user-friendly because they are not-for-profit, the customers are the owners, etc. Many are linked across the country so you can access your money from anywhere. I'm $400 away from paying of a BOA credit card, and then I'm cutting ties with them for good.

LW2, it's also your fiance's wedding. Not saying let him pick your dress, but you both have to pay for this, you know? His input should be considered.

Sapphireblue

Dear lady who wants to pay $4,800 for a dress: I am judging you so hard. Sincerely, for real, Sapphireblue.

parallel-lines

Also, please do not become a yoga instructor and expect to make a liveable wage: http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/welfare-yoga-2011-10/ I know, this sucks and it's not what anyone wants to hear! I've had several of my friends quit the rat race and become yogis - one of which works in a very senior position at a very famous studio-and all of them are barely getting by/have second non-yoga jobs.

mysterygirl

@parallel-lines : Yes, you beat me to some of these points! LW3, I'd add that the cool thing about yoga classes (which I'm sure you already know) is that a lot of them are offered at night or on the weekends, so you can go to teacher training and then start teaching yoga without having to quit your job first. I'm going to training this year, and it meets for a long weekend per month for seven months, so I'll only have to take seven days off of work. I have a number of friends who are yoga teachers and all but one work a second job (and the one who doesn't seems to have family money). So I encourage you to follow your dream but not ONLY follow your dream. If you want to revisit that decision later, you'll be more informed about how you could do so in a way that's emotionally, physically, and financially feasible.

KDubb

For the love of little golden apples, do not spend almost FIVE THOUSAND dollars for a dress you'll wear for one day (added alterations will push that over the $5k mark quickly). The cost of that dress is HALF of what my ENTIRE wedding cost. 15 years from now, you wont' be dreaming about your dress you wore that day, you'll be dreaming of the day itself, happy you were, and the look on your man's face as you walked down the aisle.

empathicalist

For the aspiring yoga instructor, I agree with the above suggestions, but would encourage you to get certified on weekends, evenings, vacation/breaks. Then, start teaching on evenings and weekends at the local Y, gym or studio. Build up your experience, clientele and savings account, for the day you finally ditch the cubicle hell.

graffin

@minijen Not to mention, figure out if you actually like doing it before quiting your job.

werewolfbarmitzvah

Want to save big money on a wedding? The answer is...(drumroooooooll)...elope! Elope elope elope ELOPE! Naysay all you want, but I did it and BOY do I feel smug about it! Wore my favorite Anthropologie dress, had our witness take a bunch of photos, went out for breakfast afterward, and then went to work! The one down side is that people don't give you a bunch of gifts the way they do at weddings, but the ultimate great part (besides the saving of da moneys) is that you get to feel like the badass of a lifetime. And if later on, on some halcyon day when you're less broke, you start to regret not having a big party situation for your wedding with all of your friends and family around, renew your vows and have your big partytime then. (Note: I know elopement is not for everyone, but I'm just sayin', if you've ever had a hankering to bag it all and just head down to City Hall, you will probably not regret it.)

Kivrin

@werewolfbarmitzvah: Word. We eloped to Hawaii, and it was AWESOME. But hey, I get that it's not for everyone: Some people *want* the party.

SarahP

@Kivrin Some of us don't want the party as much as want our family members to be happy. Weddings mean a lot to the family involved. (Otherwise I'd be trying to convince the fiance to head to City Hall STAT.)

charizard

@SarahP "Some of us don't want the party as much as want our family members to be happy."

Which would you rather have: a happy family, or a healthy financial start for your marriage? I know it can be a cultural thing, but I'm inclined to let my family seethe so my husband and I don't have to be go into debt.

SarahP

@charizard I see where you're coming from, but for some people eliminating family from the equation is simply not an option. A family-only wedding isn't that much more expensive than an elopement.

Pixley

@werewolfbarmitzvah Also, you can get married at city hall and then later when maybe you're a little steadier on your feet, have a party about how awesome it is to be married. Your family will be at the party, and you will still get presents, but it will be a low-key thing, if that's what you're into.

jennfizz

@Kivrin Hell, I had the party and the whole thing cost less than the dress she wants to buy.

Yankee Peach

Two words: Credit Unions. One link: lovemycreditunion.org

Marylou

@Yankee Peach I keep looking for something I'm eligible for...I'm a student and a temp worker. Everything I find seems to be for teachers, people in unions, etc...how do people find credit unions?

meaux

@Marylou. You never know what simple requirements your local CU has until you dig a little. My CU is ostensibly only for University of Texas students/employees, but has a long list of exceptions under the banner of "belong to an association that is in our field of membership." So I joined a local grocery co-op to qualify, enjoyed shopping at the co-op, and signed up for the CU. The CUs want customers so they will often find a way for folks to qualify.

smidge

thank you, thank you, thank you! i love financial advice.
And I totally agree about the debit cards helping you spend more. It's super nerdy, but I use the envelope system, and it really helps me get control on my spending.

Bebe

@smidge What is this envelope system? I have an, er, friend who would like to keep better track of her money.

smidge

@Bebe it's great! You have to have a budget in mind first, but tell your friend (cough) that you basically get a bunch of envelopes, label one for each category,and stick your budgeted amount of cash in each one. Once the cash from each envelope is gone, it's gone and you can't use any more money for that thing. I use it for things like coffee or drinks with friends or eating out; once I've spent all the cash in my eating out envelope, I'm required to bring my own lunch to work for the rest of the month. Does that make sense?

noodge

@smidge I use a modified envelope system with my beau and I, and it's awesome. I actually am in the process of training him on it. The concept of "ohhp! you spent all your cash this week, no more until next week!" is actually a really hard one for his debit-card-trained brain to handle, so he's actually given me all his cards and asked me to get all tough love on his ass. Kinda scary (the POWWWWEERRRR muahahah) but it seems to be working, slowly but surely.
Do the envelope system. It works.

Bebe

@smidge That totally makes sense! It's that whole "budget" thing that really doesn't compute.... I really do live within my means, but honestly it's on accident. I just don't keep track and I really should.

smidge

@Bebe Yeah, I hated the idea of budgeting at first. It's been tough for me to stick to it, but it really seems to be helping.

noodge

@Bebe I had no clue how to budget until after I separated from my hubby 3 years ago. I just got a list of EVERYTHING I spent money on in a month, starting with bills and rent (which are easy to know the dollar amounts of) then going to variables, like groceries, gas, and spending. Try to make an estimated guess on how much you need for these things, and make sure your paychecks cover it. If they don't you need to cut back in your discretionary spending. Revisit the budget every month to see how you were able to stick to it. Recalculate as needed. I used an excel spreadsheet for mine, but you could just as easily get a notebook and use that as your "budget center". I've made HUGE strides in my financial management, and have saved enough to take a huge vacation, and other awesome things.

franceschances

@smidge I'm a big fan of using Mint.com since it does all those calculations for me, and yells at me when I spend too much on booze (it's always on booze)

smidge

@franceschances mint.com is the best (and free!) and ditto. it's always the booze.

DianaPrince

To LW1 and anyone else in the same situation, you might want to look into a checking account with Schwab Bank. I've had one for years and they've never charged me a single fee, plus they reimburse all my ATM fees at the end of the month. The only weird thing is that they have no branches, but I have never found that to be an inconvenience (their phone customer service is great, and you can deposit checks by taking a picture of them with your phone!). And they make their money by charging investors fees for things like making trades, so they probably won't be instituting a bunch of fees anytime soon.

likethestore

I feel bad for LW2. When you're in the middle of wedding planning your brain cuts ties with reality and suddenly paying $5000 for a dress seems perfectly reasonable. I've seen it happen to my otherwise smart, capable friends. There are so many beautiful dresses out there for a lot less money. Keep looking.

lobsterhug

@likethestore Yes! All the magazines and websites program you to want the best possible dress even if it costs as much as your venue.

Wedding planning is the worst.

charizard

Not to turn this into a pissing match, but I got married at a courthouse and fed my family tasty deli sandwiches for less than three hundred bucks. Years later, we're still happily married. It would behoove some couples to return to Earth and take the same pragmatic approach, since a lack of common sense is often what gets people into dire financial straits in the first place. "Wedding brain" is not an excuse. Don't spend what you don't have on shit you don't need. Simple.

alpelican

@charizard and if I did that, my mother would hang me up a flagpole by my pinky toe. Sometimes it's a balancing act.

The Lou 83

I am someone who spent a huge amount of money on my wedding dress. (This was before the recession) While I still LOVE the dress, in hindsight I am sure I could have found some else that I loved & cost less. It may not have been as fabulous but there are a lot of pretty dresses out there. Seriously, you wear it for one day. It makes me kind of sad that it is now in a box never to be worn again.

acookieaday

I think it's a bit ridiculous to say the fiance's going crazy when she's the one who wants to spend $4800 on a dress. I was sure you were going to say that stress was making HER go crazy! Yes, I'd love to live in a villa on the Medierranean, drive an Italian, vintage sports car and wear ballgowns all day. I'm sure the ballgowns would look great, but I can't afford them.

acookieaday

@acookieaday Although I do have a question for the Hairpin women. Has anyone ever managed to dye their wedding dress, so it could be used for other (theoretical) formal occasions? Or altered it?

synchronia

@acookieaday Not married yet, but I'm definitely planning to shorten my wedding dress and wear it again. Of course, this should be easier since I picked a blue "bridesmaid's" dress.

WaityKatie

@acookieaday My mom wore a white suit to her wedding (I think it was silk or something, it was nice), then dyed it green and wore it again. When I was growing up I thought this was really depressing and unromantic, but now I think it was pretty awesome.

SarahP

@acookieaday The lady who blogs at YoungHouseLove dyed her short wedding dress and it came out really well. I want to try dying mine when the wedding's over, but the fiance pointed out that our building's shared washing machine is not the most considerate place to dye a dress bright red. If I ever convince him I'll be neat about it, I'll let you know how it goes!

Ophelia

@acookieaday Ooh, I'm about to do this! Am going to have mine sliced off at the knee, and dyed, maybe peacock blue?

mirror_father_mirror

@acookieaday I'm not planning on getting married anytime soon, but I've already planned a great vintage-inspired dress to sew *and* what color I will dye it afterward.

(I swear, I'm not the type to plan out Her Wedding Dress years in advance...it'd just be an excuse to make a lovely pattern I discovered!)

Carrot Cake

@acookieaday There's a nice person on Etsy who will do it. That is what I'm going to do - I've already cut it off, I just need to put the dress in the mail!

http://etsy.me/nBVabU

It always thrills me a little when I hear about someone else dying their dresses. Most people give me quizzical looks, but that's par for the course.

Laura@twitter

LW3, do you have to quit your job to get the certification? I would start by getting certified, and teaching part-time in the evenings. I know someone who still has an office job and is a co-owner of a Yoga studio. I think it is possible to make this a slow transition, instead of all-out quitting your job and being without a steady paycheck for months. Self-employment is scary and it's a lot of work, and it may be better to test the waters in the evenings or weekends while still keeping your day job if it's possible.

Valerista

$4,800 is too much for a dress...if you have a tight budget. If you're a Kardashian, go nuts!

You will wear it for ONE DAY and there will be pictures, but still, ONE DAY. I wouldn't go over $1,000, or you're going to feel like Sucker McSpent-TooMuch when you're nomming Tuna Helper.

I spent $600 for my dress and it was a great dress (and I thought THAT was a lot in1995). But there it sits wrapped in magical paper in a trunk and I am not getting any further enjoyment from it.

WaityKatie

@Valerista I wonder why there isn't the same opportunity to rent wedding dresses that there is to rent tuxedos? It seems along the same lines as different prices for men's and women's haircuts.

Carrot Cake

@WaityKatie They do that in Japan! I used to have a few clients that would come over and buy 5-10 gowns and bring them back to Japan, where they would rent them out for a few hours at a time.

I'm guessing they made bank.

MsChilePepper

@WaityKatie Indeed you can rent wedding/special occasion dresses! My friend who lives in Los Angeles rented her wedding dress; don't know exactly how much it cost, but pretty sure it was only a few hundred $ and that included alterations. Since she had no desire to keep a dress, and since her man was also renting his attire, why not?

Me, I spent $165 on a lovely cream cocktail dress that was COMFY and perfect for me and the type of not-at-all formal wedding we had. Man, would I have kicked myself SO HARD if I'd spent a metric fuckton of cashola on a dress only to split up less than two years later! It's one day, it's a piece of clothing. Don't buy into the Wedding Machine© hype!

dottie chang

@WaityKatie It is actually a very popular option now. There's a place in LA called Shin Bu (Korean dress maker) that I am using that will even make a dress for you, custom, to fit and offer you a lower price if you choose to rent it. So after your wedding, it goes back to their shop and becomes part of their rental stock.

I ended up buying a custom dress from them instead of renting because of Mom Pearl Clutching but I really could care less about keeping the dress. I will never alter it and wear it again. Who are we kidding?! It is going to sit in a box in my closet, taking up valuable Halloween decorations space until my kids toss it after I have passed away. BUT it has made my mom happier than I've ever seen and she is paying for it so it is an easy compromise to me. I would be fine getting married in a hula skirt and a bikini top, but it would be a cruel thing to do to a sweet person like my mom who is old fashioned in a good, cute way.

But, like many other things, we aren't dealing with objects as much as the emotions passed on to them. WEDDING DRAMA, whatever magic pixie dust it is that makes you justify spending $4000 on an uncomfortable dress you will wear once, is a lot about expectations and emotions and not the actual thing. If the dress is that important to you, find a way to get it, but really think about how much you want it if it is making you fight with your future husband.

WaityKatie

@dottie chang The more I think about it, the more I think spending 5000 bucks on a dress is actually morally wrong, whether or not you can afford it. Yep, I'm pretty sure that someone who spends that on a dress she is going to wear one time is a bad person, given that that sum could pay someone's bills for several months. Nope, that is just not cool with me.

vim876

@WaityKatie
It IS going to pay someone's bills for several months. The dressmaker's.

taffs

re: #1
research one of your local credit unions!
end the fed!

WaityKatie

I guess I'm gonna have to chime in here to be the one to complain about the "down payment registry" suggestion. Is this a thing now? Am I the only one who finds this gross? If any of my friends did this, they would not be getting a present from me, I would probably just donate to charity in their name or something. Unless I can start requesting "cash" for my birthday present, from anyone other than my grandmother, people are not getting cash from me for their weddings.

charizard

@WaityKatie It would get a donation to Habitat for Humanity from me.

Kivrin

@WaityKatie: I think it's incredibly gross. Of course I'm a big humbug who thinks that *any* kind of registry is pretty gross nowadays. Back in the day, when many people went straight from living-with-parents to "setting up house"—okay, maybe a registry made sense. But most people now get married after living on their own for years, so registries are just about upgrading their cheap silverware and getting a fancy mixer. Gross.

beanie

@WaityKatie I just feel like it's awkward unless you are swimming in money. Like my parent's friends giving money to the bride? Sure, whatever. Me slipping them a twenty? Just seems weird. And yes, my etiquette deems it gross too. My etiquette also says you should not put where you are registered at on your invitations either, but that seems to be cool with people now too.

PS. Also I am editing to say it's okay if you are in Goodfellas, or any mob movie.

Lily Rowan

@WaityKatie Cash for weddings is totally a cultural thing -- some people think it's the only way to go, others think it is terminally tacky.

backstagebethy

@WaityKatie I feel like people are getting married later and the traditional registry isn't as useful--I certainly don't need any more dishes, towels, etc. However, a honeymoon or down payment registry would be useful.

WaityKatie

@Kivrin Exactly! I also think it's a blatant transfer of wealth from single people to couples, and given that I am already taxed at a higher rate, that doesn't seem quite fair. Sure, I will give someone a gift, of my choosing, to celebrate a happy event, the same way I would give them a birthday or housewarming gift, but why does it have to be extravagant cookware that I can't even afford for myself, or a lavish vacation that I can't afford from myself, or, god, now a damn house?? That I also cannot afford for myself.

nogreeneggs

@WaityKatie Um people can and do request cash for their birthdays.

I really don't think it's tacky at all, I think it's foolish and wasteful to force stuff on the couple that they don't really want or need because you think it's gross to actually give them something they do need. Think of a house as one enormous present that you're going in with other people on.

I really just don't understand people who are upset by giving cash gifts. Most couples these days co-habitate before getting married and unless they are living in squalor while they wait for their wedding day to get all the good stuff, they probably already have most of what's on a traditional registry.

SlapHappyPappy

@Kivrin I'm so with you. I love giving gifts! It makes me so happy to make people happy. But I really don't think they're something that should be expected...? Isn't that the whole point of gifts?

cloudburst

@WaityKatie that's actually what I was going to comment on, I definitely thought that was a huge no-no. I have no problem with giving cash as a gift for birthdays or something but for a wedding I'd rather spend $30 on a punch bowl than put it towards someone else's house

WaityKatie

@nogreeneggs I'm anti-registry, actually, and I think wedding gifts should be treated like any other gifts. I will buy you what I want to buy you - if you want to give me a hint, fine, but I'm not accepting an itemized list of demands. There's nothing special about a wedding in today's day and age that merits me buying someone a house. I don't buy my friends houses for their birthdays, so...

ThatWench

@WaityKatie This is the one thing about weddings that I think is a "Cannot win" situation. No matter what sort of registry you have - down payment, honeymoon, "experiences" registry, traditional housewares, other - someone will think it's "tacky." But also, having no registry means risking a lot of money wasted on unnwanted/unneeded/duplicate things, especially if you're, say, inviting the whole extended family. (I didn't know what to get my cousin for her wedding, so I bought off the registry; now I wish I'd just gone with the gift card to Home Depot, even if it was for only $20 or whatever. I think she'd have appreciated that more.) I don't think it's possible to pull off "get me this" without sounding somewhat tacky, and staying mum's a quick ticket to hoping everything comes with a (local) gift receipt.

ThatWench

@ThatWench Ugh. Work-mandated IE7 & "Edit comment" are not BFFs. But, the more I think about, the more I see myself as the shining example of the purpose for a registry - I'm the cousin who speaks to you once a year or so and lives across the country. If you don't tell me, I have *no idea* what to get you. And I've spoken to friends who have things like fine china place settings on their registry, and they tell me that mom or grandma told them to include that, so that side of the family could buy them. In short, the registry isn't for anyone who knows the couple well enough to pick out something on their own.

WaityKatie

@ThatWench But that is more of an argument for not hitting up random distant relatives you don't know for wedding gifts, no? I remember thinking it was weird to send out graduation announcements to all these relatives I had met maybe once in my life, too. Although then they all sent money, so that was awesome. But if I ever get married, being a self-supporting adult with a job, I will not be doing that. Like someone said above, the registry thing made sense when people got married at 18 and moved out of their parents' houses into their Marital Home, but if you've got two 30 year olds who have been on their own for 10 years and probably already live together, it somehow doesn't seem as appropriate.

Bebe

@WaityKatie I was going to skip the registry, since I got married at 34 and most of our guests had to travel for the wedding. Plus, in my culture(s) and region where I grew up, everyone older than the bride and groom (parents, aunts and uncles, etc) give money. HOWEVER. That was the most controversial wedding decision we ever made. We were both bombarded by angry southern ladies (his side) demanding to know why we hadn't registered. And when we said, really, we don't need or want anything, just your best wishes, they told us we were inconsiderate. So, off to Crate and Barrel we went...which STILL wasn't good enough, but it appeased most of them.

So what I'm saying is, some people think the registry is a courtesy to the guests and some couples get bullied into having one.

Also wanted to add - a wedding invitation is not "hitting up the relatives for gifts." It's supposed to be just an invite, and giving a gift is optional. Which is why you aren't supposed to include registry information in the invitation. Now, wedding SHOWERS on the other hand....

r to the r

@WaityKatie I get that you (and many others) would prefer to choose your own wedding gifts for a couple, but for some of us, a registry is really convenient and appreciated. There are people who have a talent for choosing just the right gift for every person, but sadly, I am not one of them. It's a relief when I can choose an item from a registry so that there's a better chance I'm getting something the couple will actually use. I don't mind giving cash either if that's what the couple prefers.

sevanetta

@WaityKatie and Kivrin. YES. EXACTLY. 'The transfer of wealth from singles to couples', yes!!! I can't afford a house or a holiday or any of those things for myself. I'm 30 in three months and wondering why I am not allowed to set up a registry to celebrate ME, WONDERFUL ME like couples essentially do. I actually could also use some extra furniture/kitchen stuff since it has just been me for a while...

Don't get me wrong, I love to give gifts and I'm happy for everyone else, but there's such a GIMME I'M SO AWESOME I'M A COUPLE aspect to weddings.

WaityKatie

@sevanetta Also the fact that the wedding hysteria isn't even confined to just the one day of the event, but usually goes on for months beforehand, with showers and parties and planning and sometimes traveling, and multiple gifts. I don't think any of that would fly for the "I'm 40 and fabulously alone and I would like cash please" party I'm intending to have, assuming I don't get bride-napped in the next 5 years.

JuiceBox

@Kivrin I sort of get housing funds. Sort of, but I'd want a cornerstone or something with the names of people supporting the savings. When I go to a wedding, I'm getting the couple a gift. Heck if you invite me over to dinner, I'm bringing over at least some beer. For a wedding I want to send a physical gift I'm hoping you will love and use as a reminder that I support your life-long partnership. So if I give a couple money for a house I want some sort of remembrance in the house. That way it brings the love of the gift to a rather unfuzzy yet totally helpful/practical gift.

sevanetta

@WaityKatie Oh man you just reminded me of it all. Yes. Not only that, there is the bad attitude that surrounds everything and how you are a horrible person if you don't participate in it... and then the family feuds that drag on for 6 months after...

LB
LB

@WaityKatie Beyond the general registry grossness, something in this letter troubled me a lot. It is rude and a sure-fire way to be disappointed if you justify wedding costs by assuming how much you'll recoup via gifts. Your dress, how many people you invite, what food you select, etc. should all be based on what you can afford now, not what you believe you'll get. What if someone falls short of the expectation? Are you going to be disappointed? Angry? Think they are a bad friend because they didn't pay their "fair" share? Wouldn't it be much nicer to have a nice wedding that you can afford, and then enjoy whatever gifts you receive knowing they were given out of love and generosity, and not as a trade for attending your wedding?

alpelican

@WaityKatie You should throw that party and invite all the Hairpinners. I'd totally go.

WaityKatie

@alpelican You are all totally invited. I'm going to encourage people to dress as famous spinsters from history. I got dibs on Emily Dickinson.

MrsLlama

@WaityKatie @Bebe My husband wanted to do a Honeymoon registry (the kids are all doing it these days!) and I struggled with it a lot. We did it, my (very southern, very proper) mother was HORRIFIED. But his California family/friends all loved it. I came to terms with it. Giving cash is not something I grew up around. In general I do think that the registry is a courtesy to guests. And I do believe that yes, you have to give a wedding gift if you attend the wedding, so why make it hard on people? You don't have to register for like, all 1,000$ crystal cake stands or something. myregistry360.com, dudes.

In addition, spending 5k on your dress is madness. MADNESS!

dottie chang

@WaityKatie at Korean weddings, most guests bring gifts of cash, so marry a Korean person if you want cash gifts. BUT they also expect a fancy wedding with good food. I think an economist did a study of weddings like this and found that folks break even.

glitterary

@WaityKatie I went to an amazing wedding a couple of weeks ago--it was steampunk-themed so my friends and I got to dress up, the bride and groom and their families put so much effort in. There was a ceilidh and so much cake. While it was a celebration of their love, I enjoyed it so much, and knowing they're financially sensible but the venue etc would still have put a dent in their wallet, I was quite happy to give money. I know what they like--fantasy books and cooking--but don't see them often enough to check what they have on their bookshelf or in their kitchen. They'd done an "experience" registry fund, but I (and several others) were way too disorganised to contribute beforehand, so just shoved some money in an envelope. Given what an awesome time I had at their expense, it seemed the right thing to do.

WaityKatie

@glitterary Don't get me wrong, I'm all for shoving money in an envelope rather than having to go to the trouble of picking out a gift, but I kind of just associate that with, I don't know, giving a christmas present to my nephew, rather than giving a present to a friend who is my age and on an equal footing with me. Maybe I would feel differently if I had ever been to a wedding that was remotely fun or interesting, but I don't really think so.

glitterary

@WaityKatie *shrug* For me, giving money was a way of being sure I picked the right gift for a couple I care about, by letting them pick it instead. The wedding was for a couple I met online (one half--the bride--a decade ago), and have only met in person about four or five times. So while I speak to them regularly and know what they like, I'm not casually around them often enough to hear them say "man, I'd really like a Le Creuset baking dish!" and hence know what they need. I've received enough rubbish presents from people who tried really hard but misjudged to not want to do the same.

Emma Peel

Actual question on the debit card thing (although YES switching to a cash diet + online bill pay probably would be the best thing ever for my wallet). If you run your debit card as a credit card (no PIN), will the fee still apply?

charizard

@julieta I think the fee is simply deducted monthly if you elect to have a debit card, regardless of whether you use it. Think of it like a $60 annual fee (for free banking, naturally) spread out over 12 months.

antarcticastartshere

@julieta The fee will be applied monthly if you use your card for anything other than ATM transactions; it doesn't matter if you swipe it as credit or debit.

Emma Peel

@antarcticastartshere @charizard Damn. I was hoping since it was ostensibly a reaction to swipe fee regulation (which applies only to debit, not credit, transactions) it would have that loophole. SILLY ME. Ugh.

Lily Rowan

Best new column!!

Just for the record, I got a note from Citibank about how they would never charge me for using the debit card.... and got another note about how I'd have to keep $6K in the bank with them or they would start charging me $15/month flat. SO.

Kivrin

@Lily Rowan: HA. Nice, Citibank. Nice.

Lily Rowan

@Kivrin I hate Citibank. But am so lazy!!

JuiceBox

@Lily Rowan You can do it!

Bebe

@Lily Rowan I got one from them saying I had to keep $15,000 in my combined accounts (savings and checking) or they are going to charge me $20 a month!!!! I AM UNEMPLOYED I DO NOT HAVE $15K, CITIBANK!

My husband's account and our joint account are at Chase, and they are all linked so I am probably just going to switch, but I have had this account since I was 16 and so very many bills are paid automatically out of it (another reason why I never have $15k in it), plus I have the account numbers memorized and I am a total pro at their online banking..... Will my hatred of Citibank defeat my laziness?

Lily Rowan

@Bebe Maybe we should make a pact to move? Change is so haaaaaard.

dotcommie

@Bebe i got that same letter from citibank and called to bitch. it turns out you probably have the mid-tier checking account--you can switch to a basic checking account with no discernible loss in functionality, and the requirements for waiving fees are much lower. i.e., you can avoid it by making one direct deposit and one bill pay a month, or by keeping an average of $1500 in savings and checking combined per month.

Ophelia

@Bebe See if you can switch the others? Also, if you work for a big firm, see whether they have a deal with Citibank. We got some deal with them that gives us the no-fee thing you need to have $15k for, even if we don't, because my husband works for a big company in NY. Worth asking...

Lily Rowan

@dotcommie Oh, good to know -- I need to make that call.

Bebe

@Lily Rowan I'm trying to figure out how I can turn closing one account, and walking 3 blocks to open a new account into like an awesome girls' night out, a little tapas, some sangria...wear that sparkly party top that still has the tags on it. Want in?

Bittersweet

@Lily Rowan: We get free checking at Citizens...but only because we have a money market fun with them as well. Try a local bank, I know they still exist, even in Boston!

Lily Rowan

@Bittersweet I would like some money market fun!

Lily Rowan

@dotcommie Yay! I am on hold getting this account that will be free for me (for now) as we speak!

I should still leave Citibank, but at least they won't be charging me until I get around to it.

christonacracker

unnnh yes to having a financial advice column but questions about $5k pieces of clothing and quitting jobs to become yoga instructors makes me feel like I'm trapped inside the finances issue of Real Fucking Simple. Let's consider the audience next time -- aka drunk librarians.

JoanTition

@christonacracker iloveyou

werewolfbarmitzvah

@christonacracker Drunk librarians? But...but...*looks over shoulder*...HOW DID YOU KNOW?

Maven

@christonacracker Haaaaaa oh mah gah seriously for real.

noodge

@christonacracker yeeeah, I think a lot of the reader responses are reflecting our awe at these questions, and their relevancy....

charizard

@christonacracker "Dear Hairpin. What is the cheapest box wine, and which should I give up to afford it: food, a roof over my head, or breathing?"

becky@twitter

@christonacracker i'm not a librarian, but thanks to jane marie, i saved money on a librarian pin so i can pretend that i am while drunk at the bar.

Non-anonymous

@christonacracker This librarian is certainly not drunk. Since I am, of course, posting from work.

JuiceBox

LW#1 - I have ally and they reimburse me for my ATM fees and they have check scanning for deposits and competitive rates. It is easier to move banks when you have some savings to ease into the transition. Once a bank has you and you're living paycheck to paycheck, it is hard to switch. I know that all too well. I totally agree with the other commenters that local banks & Credit Unions have great deals and keep the money circulating in your community. They are more dependable in so many ways. I just didn't find one near where I live in Chicago plus I'm pretty mobile too. I can see myself moving across country. Anyhoosie I left citibank after years and it feels great to know I'm not supporting their business practices. Good Luck!

PistolPackinMama

In the end you have to make your own dress decision, dress-wearing girl.

But I feel like... if you have to agonize over whether or not nearly 5-grand is too much for a dress... it is probably too much. A dress that expensive shouldn't cause you to agonize, because you should have the money, know it won't be too much of a stressor, and probably not even be your biggest expense.

Five grand is a lot of money.

But, if it is reallllllly what you want, I think you should be prepared to do an awful lot of compromising on how the rest of your wedding will go. If it's dress-or-honeymoon, you should be prepared for that. Dress-or-BFF-from-Summer-Camp... be prepared for that. If it's dress-or-open-bar...

Also... I pretty much never actually get close enough to a bride to see her gown. So, you know, it is an asset of limited utility. You are going to the only person who will get to see it who will really care. Your husband doesn't care about the dress, probably. He cares about you. Your friends and family who do get close are intellectually interested in the dress, but aren't invested in it like you are.

And dress nut wedding guests will get all of forty seconds to admire the 3-dollars-per-bead decor on it before you have to move on.

cc
cc

@AnthroK8 this goes to other areas of wedding spending too...
i originally wanted a small, inexpensive ring; then i tried it on and decided i'd rather have the hugely sparkly expensive one instead. my finacee-at-the-time said ok, but we have to trim down on our honeymoon- and i was cool with that. we still had a lovely trip and i'm pleased with the tradeoff :)

also, after being married for 3 months.... i love my dress but i'm glad i stayed on budget. it is literally taking up closet space now. 4 months ago it was the HOLIEST GARMENT AND MOST GORGE AND MEANINGFUL THING EVARRRR and now i'm jockeying for shoe storage space. something to keep in mind, although you probably don't want to and i don't blame you ;)

meatcute

@cc YES. THIS. It's so so hard to explain to my engaged friends — who are flipping out over dresses and table linens — that this stuff CEASES TO MATTER in the space of about three weeks following a wedding. I really liked wearing my dress (Elizabeth Dye! The dress was more expensive ($1,250) than I wanted, but I got to support a small designer). I had a blast at our relatively inexpensive and ridiculously fun wedding. But when I think about how much brain space I wasted worrying about shoes and veils and wedding makeup and how to wear my hair and adorable vintage napkins... I'm completely embarrassed.

Bottom line: DON'T SPEND $5k ON A DRESS YOU'LL WEAR ONCE. Money is not going to make your wedding meaningful.

WaityKatie

@meatcute But don't you want to be a PRINCESS on THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR LIFE???? Princess! Most important!!! Guess feminism hasn't really caught on so much after all.

Megasus

Guess what? All of my banking is free. Suck it Americans! Also shame on Congress or whoever who banned previous fees but didn't think to limit new ones. That is BAD LEGAL WORDING GUYS.

ejcsanfran

@Megan Patterson@facebook: Bad legal wording, perhaps - but I certainly doubt it was unintentional.

Megasus

@Megan Patterson@facebook I know :( It's probably the only reason the banks let it pass.

fleurdelivre

"And at the wedding, when people compliment the gown, you can go “I got it on SALE!” I know that’s kinda tacky, but I would totally do that." <--- I would totally do that too. Also, this segment is better than Suze Orman.

DorothyMantooth

@fleurdelivre I've been picturing Erin in a series of really fabulous jackets, though.

BlushAndBashful

Wedding Dress Lady: TRUTH is that cheaper dresses (with a greater % of non-natural fibers) sometimes actually look BETTER at your wedding than more $$$ versions, because Pure Silk etc. wrinkles like whoa, when someone merely breathes on it or looks at it funny. It's a win-win!

Jessica Poynter@facebook

@BlushAndBashful I threw my $300 polyester dress in the washing machine afterwards, and it came out great. And during the reception I was able to run around in the grass, stumble into people, eat, and get hugged by children and drunks, all without caring about stains or tears.

karion

Also? Here is a pretty surefire way to cull your guest list:

1. People who will be in any way disappointed by it - who will dislike the food, the venue, the dress, the bar selection, etc. If you are paying for even one person who isn't over the moon thrilled for you, you didn't cull enough.

2. People who aren't in your life anymore. It is understandable to want to invite your college roommate for whom you were a bridesmaid six years ago, but haven't spoken to in the past three. But girl, that is what personalized, crafty announcements are for.

3. Don't invite people you don't like. Just don't. You won't believe what this rule will do for the length of the guest list, let alone the intimacy and genuineness of the evening.

SarahP

@karion I read somewhere that if the guest is a stranger to one half of the couple (that is, if either the bride or groom has never met them before), they don't need to be on the invite list. This was really useful for us when planning our wedding!

charizard

@SarahP Oh god, then my husband's entire family beyond his parents and siblings would be excluded.

Oh wait, we did that and IT WAS AWESOME. As a result, his great aunts made it a point to cut him off, but they didn't really talk to him anyway so it's not like anything has changed, hahaha. But yeah. You don't want to be introduced to people on your wedding day. Imagine - trying to keep track of everything else and a bunch of random names on top of that. Yeesh. Not to mention all the potential wedding-guest-turned-freeloaders eating a delicious meal on your dime (I speak from the experience of being one).

karion

@SarahP: I like that rule, with a caveat: if the guest lives locally (in your town) and is a stranger to one half of the couple, then novite.

Also, weddings are the absolute worst time to introduce your significant other to someone. And often a terrible time for the bride and/or groom to "catch up" with old friends and family.

I don't know. I just want a room full of the people I am nuts about, who are nuts about me, and who want to celebrate as much as I do.

SarahP

@charizard HA, I think maybe family didn't count in the original article, though in your case it seems to have worked out.

alpelican

@SarahP man, I'm glad my friend didn't follow this rule or I would not have went to her awesome wedding and also probably wouldn't be going backpacking with her and her husband next spring! what what!

 
pedgehog

@julia I dunno, I'm trying to sympathize, but in the end it is just the biggest white person problem I've ever heard. Also I don't think she gets to get out of being judged just because she is sincerely looking for advice for her own special-snowflake situation. Shit is real, economically. People are living in boxes. Let's please not waste our tears on this kind of nonsense. LW2: here's a ten-year plan for you. 1. Give your head a shake. 2. Buy a cheaper dress. 3. (10 years from now) look back on this and laugh.

There. Solved.

Laura@twitter

Also I am going to sound like a biatch here and say that if you are wondering if $5k is too much to spend on a dress, you probably can't afford it.

SlapHappyPappy

@Laura@twitter True life, though--the only people who should be dropping that kind of change are the ones it won't make a difference for.

Megasus

@Laura@twitter 5k is too much to spend on a dress, PERIOD. Unless you are wearing said dress every day for like, 10 years. WHICH YOU ARE NOT. But don't get me started on how much I dislike wedding culture.

quixotic

At first, I saw this post and I was like OMGYAY! A financial column for the young ladies! But then after reading the answer to the first question and there was no mention of switching to a credit union, I was taken aback. I've been a proud member of a credit union for 10 years and I have never been charged a penny for using their services. Credit unions are where it's at, yo. Look around for a local CU - that's probably your best in. You can also look for a CU based on your occupation or student status. One awesome things about CUs is that they link to other CUs so you have the same mega-network that large banks provide, without all the douchiness. My credit union also partners with 7-Eleven so I can get cash without incurring ATM fees just about anywhere.

so what?

@quixotic YES to credit unions! my parents opened up CU accounts for my brother and i when we were but wee ones and we've both had them ever since and they're GREAT! also, my CU also partners with 7-Elevens for ATMs. the best!

and to the wedding lady. you are bonkers. $5000 on a dress?! i just -- i can't even. so much money. that is my rent for AN ENTIRE YEAR.

mouthalmighty

Super stoked for this column! Yay!

SarcasticFringehead

I just got married, and I was in LW#1's position, where the perfect dress was three or four times what I was planning to spend. I went back and forth, but I finally went to a different boutique that only stocked dresses in my range, and found a great one that I also loved.

And then, I spent four hours in it (sweating like crazy, btws, and barely able to sit down) and now it's in my closet and I'm going to get rid of it as soon as I remember to post it on Craigslist (Seattle-area brides: size 14, minimally altered). I probably could have gone with something much cheaper, as long as it was still flattering, and been emotionally totally OK with it, because at the end of the day the point (of the dress, for me) was to look good in pictures, and a cheaper dress would have done that just fine.

I think the biggest thing is to make a list of things you're really invested in (for me, open bar, good food, nice venue) and things you're not really invested in (flowers, dress) and cut costs really aggressively for the things you're not invested in.

karion

@SarcasticFringehead: Oh HAI. Am getting married in Seattle in about two months! Would love to see your dress - I have just started hunting for mine.

And you and I have the same priorities - I would have listed the very same things as my top concerns, and I get really prickly when someone tries to talk flowers with me. Our space is amazing and needs no nutty flower nonsense.

SarcasticFringehead

@karion Excellent! Email me at SeattlePinners at gmail and I'll send you some info.

Ophelia

Wedding tip: whenever you're getting price quotes for anything, tell them you're hosting an "event" NOT a wedding. If you're getting things like invitations and favors printed, go through corporate marketing websites/firms rather than ones that are specifically for weddings/baby showers/etc. You'll save a bundle. I got 75 canvas tote bags printed up by the marketing company I often use for work, for about $1.75/bag. To do it via a wedding website was about $4/bag.

Four Horsemeals of the Eggporkalypse

@Ophelia Yes, this!! And this applies to the dress question as well. Even a nice formalwear gown will cost less than a "wedding"-branded dress of similar fanciness.

Maven

Came over here to be 100% also in favor of credit unions. I drank the koolaid when I had an extended job working at one, and I never looked back. Plus, they have a "once a member, always a member" philosophy, if I'm not mistaken--it's not like you have to qualify continuously in order to join. My CU has this points rewards program that I have actually used to remove overdraft fees in the past. I am super happy with the place. They also have an agreement with BofA to use their ATMS with no fee.

ALSO. Would just like to say that I spent $70 on my wedding dress and it was dope. It was also a very light pewter color, so I can wear it again. I highly, highly recommend this course of action.

noodge

I agree with pretty much everyone here who is saying NO to the dress. For reals. I've started peeking at dresses to get ideas for myself, and am shocked that some places even charge that much when there are amazing vendors who sell custom stuff for so much less, like bridalblissdesigns on etsy. ALSO, bhldn has adorbs dresses - again, more pricey than I want to pay, but MUCH MUCH less than your 4k+ dress.

redheaded&crazy

good, sad advice about how this is a terrible climate to be in if you don't enjoy your job and want to move on.

Must stick it out! Also start cutting back. Definitely that one, yes yes yes.

mlle.gateau

Wedding dress lady, I feel your pain. I have been dress shopping (though not for myself), and I understand the lure of a dress that isn't polyester. It's just so much nicer, isn't it? And you know what, you can find dresses like that for really, really good prices. Here are some options:

1. Running of the brides shit. It's crazy, but people do it and find great dresses. Filene's, Kleinfeld... most fancy places have these sales.

2. Send pictures and measurements to Asia. Two friends of mine did this, and go GORGEOUS dresses at low prices.

3. The YWCA's Church Street Bridal Shop in Lynchburg, Virginia. http://www.churchstreetbridal.com/index2.php?v=v1#/home/ The store takes donated (usually sample) dresses from places like Kleinfeld and sells them for around $300-400 (more for couture gowns). They are usually a couple of seasons old, and of course selection is better in smaller sizes, but they have beautiful well-made dresses that will be good as new once you take them to a tailor (which you'd have to do anyway). And seriously, maybe the dress isn't brand new, but at least you won't flip shit because someone stepped on something. My bestie is getting married in May and got a GORGEOUS dress there. And you know what the best part is? All of the money goes to the YWCA, which operates shelters for domestic abuse survivors and works to combat racism. If you live nowhere near that place, visit their website, they post pictures of dresses and keep detailed records of sizes and will work with you to find a dress.

I understand wanting That Dress, but look around and see if there aren't other options that would make you just as happy.

parallel-lines

@mlle.gateau I know a lot of people are like, ack, are you for fucking real with the dress thing but I understand how easy it is to get carried away--you're already spending a ton of money--no, make that a metric shit ton of money--and you've already cut corners and compromised on what feels like fifty billion things and god damn it, can you have just this one thing be nice? It sucks, I understand. The dress I fell in love with (Reem Acra) is twice as much, but yeah..at the end of the day there are a lot of things I can do with $10,000 that will last me more than a day.

There's also one place in Manhattan - The Bridal Garden - that also does used dresses and donates to charity http://www.bridalgarden.org/

mlle.gateau

@parallel-lines Exactly, it's easy to get carried away, but there are ways to get nice dresses for a lot less. Also, and people don't think about this much, but if you are a dress-oriented person, while you'll only wear it for a day, you'll be looking at pictures of it for the rest of your life. You need a dress you can look at, still like, and not feel bad about because either a) you still feel guilty for overspending or b) remember how much you didn't really want that dress and felt roped into getting it.

Weddings are ridiculous, and wedding dresses can be, but there are ways of doing it that won't break the budget and will still make you happy when you look back at your pictures.

kariface

Ugh, I feel like you guys need to do an entire wedding column .... seriously!

Jane Marie

This.. And more importantly, This.

becktar

I think that is waaaay to much to spend on a dress no matter how pretty you feel in it! I am starting to plan my wedding and am totally going to rock a Jcrew bridesmaid dress in grey as my wedding dress. 375 bucks....yes please!

major disaster

My advice to the wedding dress lady would be to read "One Perfect Day" by Rebecca Mead.

The Lady of Shalott

@major disaster I encourage everyone to read this book even if they are not getting married in the immediate future, because it is a very enjoyable read!

ejcsanfran

Sorry that all of my comments in this thread have been uncharacteristically complainy. But it's very, very difficult for me to hear folks complaining about their expensive weddings or talking about "making up costs" via the registry or shilling for cash for a down-payment or a honeymoon or whatever when I'm legally proscribed from marrying another dude.

I think most same-sex couples would be overjoyed to be able to head down to City Hall in jeans and a t-shirt if it meant that their marriage (in the few states that allow them) bestowed upon them the same rights and responsibilities as opposite-sex couples.

Not that I'm suggesting that no one should have a big wedding - but it's actually supposed to be a celebration of love and commitment that you share with your friends and family.

Kristin M Bonelli

When I got married, I got a gorgeous, unique vintage wedding gown that set me back about $250. Try vintage! Not for everyone, I know, but it was great. I even ordered it online (I got it from vintageous.com) and yeah, it had to be altered a little but STILL. The alterations were maybe another...$50?

DandelionTacy

@Kristin M Bonelli. Thank you for that link, I immediately found 87 wedding dress I want RIGHTNOW!

cabot_cove_syndrome

@Kristin M Bonelli Sweet Baby Jesus on a tricycle. Just spent the past hour browsing vintageous.com - I'm not even in the market for a wedding dress or close but WOW! Couldn't stop clicking on the dresses and imagining who wore them and for what events and having ridiculously romantic Great-Gatsby-Fred-Astaire-and-Ginger-Katherine-Hepburn like fantasies.

knittinator

Woah to that dress! Mine was a lovely vintage find that cost about $80.00 WITH alterations. I still get compliments from people years later.
The truth? NO ONE will remember what your dress looked like 6 months after your wedding except you and possibly your mother. I hate to sound terrible here, but most people will remember very little about your wedding at all no matter how "memorable" you try to make it. People only remember if the food was bad or the wedding was long and sometimes they recall that you looked nice. The most memorable things will have nothing to do with what you are wearing. Memories will come from all the fun (or maybe not so fun) unexpected things you never saw coming. They will come from hanging out with your girls the night before and getting ready in the bridal room in the morning. They will come when someone unexpected cries because they are so happy for you, or when someone gives a hilarious wedding toast. So lay off the dress, spend your money on good food instead.

jennfizz

@knittinator THIS! I, too went second hand on my dress (under $100). It's one night for pete's sake. Put it in your nest egg, people, have you seen the economy?

bonnbee

@knittinator THIS THIS THIS! When I think of every wedding I've been to, I remember a few random, nice moments from each one (not just because I was drunk). No one cares about your twee Etsy cake topper, what color your bridesmaids' shoes were, or the envelope liner on your save-the-date. NO ONE. Food + drinks + music + love = all that matters.

fondue with cheddar

I wasn't aware of the new ATM fee, so I checked the BofA web site. I have an eBanking account, which apparently still has no monthly fees, BUT here's the catch: you can make transactions online or though BofA ATMs, but if you use a teller during a statement period they will charge you $8.95. So you need to have direct deposit or deposit checks through one of their ATMs (which is super easy and awesome). Oh, and electronic statements only.

wharrgarbl

I feel like if you're going to spend that much on a dress you wear once or twice and that's it, it really ought to come with a mannequin and a plexiglas case so that you can set it up in your living room and stare at it instead of the complete top-flight home entertainment system you could have purchased with the money.

cc
cc

@wharrgarbl i would buy one of those if i could afford it. so pretty <3

WaityKatie

@wharrgarbl Or you could just keep wearing it forever, a la Miss Havisham.

dottie chang

@WaityKatie Yes. And keep your wedding cake forever too. I never understood--how did the cake last for that long?

WaityKatie

@dottie chang Then you could run into some Elaine Benes-style intestinal distress if you try to eat it later, though.

bonnbee

UGHH cutting the guest list. Sounds easy, yet it actually sucks because everyone has a fucking opinion. My manfriend cut out his whole family except for his siblings and Dad. It kind of makes him sound like an asshole to some people, but his family members are racist rednecks and would sit at the reception loudly judging all our choices. CUT.
Random friends from high school who I've seen once a year? Sorry ladies. CUT.
94 year old grandpa who lives across the country, and who it would cost thousands of dollars to fly out and get a home health aide for the whole visit? Sorry grandpa. I love you and will send you a courtesy invitation, but CUT.
My new stepmother's extremely large extended family, who I've known for a little over a year? Yup, all thirty of them have to come.

Also in response to LW1: credit union! Credit union! Credit union!

glitterary

@bonnbee My ex's dad got remarried, and clearly didn't want to make a big deal of it (while his new wife did). Her side of the registry office contained about 30-40 people; his side contained my bf, me, and my bf's brother other son. It was kind of awkward, for a bit. But they're lovely people and seemed so happy together--the two of them were clearly all that mattered (and arguably, rightly so).

Non-anonymous

Regarding all the national outrage over this new debit card fee, people should realize that there are tons of semi-hidden fees you don't usually hear about. Banks have been piling them on in recent years, and BofA is the worst offender. The new fee is just consistent and publicized, instead of capricious and hidden. In my opinion that's actually an improvement.

Jane Minty 

I'll add to the USAA raves. I could swear a few of my friends were recently unable to obtain even their basic checking account because of new restrictions, but I managed to open one last year and I'm completely happy.

I love credit unions, but sadly many of us in NYC aren't eligible for most of them. I'm neither a member of a "real" union, nor Slavic enough (not to mention other random prerequisites). I've tried to join my fellow NYU Alumni in their CU a few times over the years, but they always seem to ask for your first born "for the protection of their members."

If any NYCers have recommendations for reputable local banks to accompany my USAA account, I'd love to hear them! I want to ditch Chase ASAP.

herebullet

I don't live in a world in which spending $4,800 on a wedding dress is even an option. My wedding cost about that—total—and I regret that I spent even that much. Looking back, it's hard to remember details (but my one splurge was a good photographer, so a lot of those details were captured) but what I remember had nothing to do with what I bought. I got married in a simple strapless $200 gown. I thought that was fairly pricey, especially considering my mom got married in a white floral dress she borrowed from my sister. But when it comes down to it, perfection isn't in a $4,800 dress. It's in the imperfections—the nervous laughter and the broken zipper and all the moments that make it real, not untouched or fake.

cutselvage

I've been reading the Hairpin for a couple of months and this is the first time I've dived into comments - the bank fee thing is fascinating to me, since I live in Australia. Our big banks have fees as well, but I think because we don't have the cheque culture that the USA does (seriously, actually writing a paper cheque here is something not even my grandmother does anymore), the fee structures are different? Apart from my $3/month account-keeping fee, the only thing I get charged for is occasionally using an ATM that's not part of my bank's network.

It blows my mind that you could get charged just for paying for goods with your debit card. I do EVERYTHING on my debit card. D:

brista128

@cutselvage We don't really use checks that often either! I think it's mostly that banks are evil and/or want to make $$$ so they'll charge for anything.

Unaccompanied Lady

Sorry to be a buzzkill, but imagine how I felt spending the $1200 dress to goodwill after the divorce 15 years later. Hope someone else enjoyed it -- it would have still looked good -- but I regretted spending that much on something that took up a lot of space well before the marriage ended.

lobsterhug

I feel for you LW2! Sisters in wedding hell! I can totally understand getting fixated on the one thing that belongs just to you. Wedding planning is so stressful. You're trying to please everyone. Most of the details for a wedding are about the guests' enjoyment, so the only thing that feels personal is the dress. And it has to be the perfect dress. It's hard. You can't always cut the guest list. You can't just run away. You not only have to contend with you expectations, but that of your families. God, I get it!

mczz

As much as it pains me to say, I am unsatisfied with this new column. I think it's a fantastic idea, but I'm not so pleased with the execution. The first question was not answered very well (not even using the words "credit union?"), with options that don't make much sense. It's hard to imagine "working something out" with a giant corporate bank that has a reputation for being duplicitous in its fee application. (I was told that I could avoid paying low account balance fees if I set up an automatic transfer to savings, turns out it wasn't true and I was charged anyway.) This NPR story really addressed this question well: http://www.npr.org/2011/10/07/141144766/banks-to-raise-debit-card-fees. Secondly, the last two questions seem less financial and more life-choice-y, and the advice felt kind of muddling and unclear.

This column reads to me most like an Ask A Lady/Dude column, whereas I would like it to read like Ask A Clean person. Jolie blows me away every time with the breadth and depth of her knowledge, and her comprehensive research. Ask A Lady/Dude writers feel more like people who have some experiences and can offer perspective on emotional and social situations, but really can only do that, because the questions they're given don't have clear answers. Like cleaning, financial advice can be a lot more hard and fast. I like my advice on those kind of subjects to be all-encompassing and well-researched, and I don't necessarily want to go on what worked for one person, in a specific situation.

Sarah Beckley@facebook

There's a great book on how we made decisions that I can't remember the title of right now (clearly I need to read a "improve your memory" book next). Anyway, I remember the advice for making decisions, which is this: Ask 5 people who were in your situation what they did and whether their choice made them happy.

This applies to the job and the dress. The job, you touch on this, but it should absolutely be part of anyone's career changes plans: ask 5 people IN that job or who HAD that job and find if it made them happy and if they would do it again.

For the dress, ask five married women if they wish they had spent more or less on their dress and what they would spend their money on if they'd do it again.

And thinking that your wedding gifts will offset anything is seriously wrong. You may get some cash, but you will get a lot of off-registry gifts like ugly candle sticks and mantle clocks. Trust me.

dinacoc

I closed my checking account before applying for unsecured business loans and this did not affect my credit score. My son works at a bank and he explained me the procedure I need to make, it was very easy and an afternoon I managed to close my checking account.

Pandadress On Sale@facebook

I just find out a very cheap wedding dresses website-pandadress.com, the dress is perfect, although it is very cheap, if you want to cut your wedding budget down, you can consider this website!

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