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Struggling to Pay for the Wedding

By Dave Ramsey
Author, The Total Money Makeover – These days it pays to be smart about money. That's why it's important to take this wise counsel from financial expert Dave Ramsey.

Can’t pay for her wedding

Dear Dave,

Our daughter is 24, engaged to be married, and we can’t afford to pay for the kind of wedding she wants. My husband and I have had some financial difficulty over the last few years, and we are finally beginning to slowly dig our way out. On top of this, we’re still paying on her student loan from college. Should we let her know the situation up front, and how can we keep from feeling guilty about things?

– Gina

Dear Gina,

The big thing is that first you and your husband should be on the same page. You need to come to a decision about exactly what you’re willing and able to do. It doesn’t sound like it will be much, though. Especially if you’re trying to get your own finances in order and still paying on her student loan.

Now, how do you not feel guilty about all this? I think that’s a personal journey you’ll both have to take. A wedding is a wonderful thing, but it’s not any less wonderful when it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. It also doesn’t make you child abusers or bad parents just because you’re not willing to go $20,000 into debt to throw a fancy wedding!

I think, too, that you owe this kid some straightforward and honest communication. Most 24-year-olds don’t have a firm grasp on reality. Even at that age, they don’t think about where the money’s coming from. They’re just bopping along and assuming Mom and Dad will pull thousands of dollars out of the air for a big Barbie and Ken wedding. She needs to know that things just aren’t like that in the real world.

Let her know that you love her and want to help, but you’re going to be very limited on what you can do financially. Besides, you can have a great wedding without throwing around lots of cash. A marriage is about love, not dollar signs. And when it comes to the money, a wedding is like anything else you’d buy. My rule of thumb is pay cash or don’t do it!


Drop coverage?

Dear Dave,

I recently heard someone on television say it was a good idea to cancel the collision and comprehensive portions of your auto insurance coverage if you want to save money. What do you think about this? My husband and I are trying to follow your plan. We have $1,000 in our emergency fund, and we drive a couple of old, used cars. Would this idea work for us?


Dear Anonymous,

Obviously you’ll save money if you’re not paying out as much to the insurance company. But I don’t think dropping that coverage is a good idea. Let’s say you don’t have much money saved up, and then you total your car. How’re you going to get to work or to the grocery store? It would leave you in a bad situation, wouldn’t it?

If you’re driving a couple of beaters, the insurance doesn’t cost that much. Cheap cars mean cheap insurance. Self-insuring is a good idea sometimes with some things, but I don’t believe in it when you’re talking about your cars and you're broke! In my case, I’ve got enough money to just write a check and buy another car if something happens to mine. But when I added up what the car costs versus what they charge me for insurance, it looks like a decent deal to me. I’m just not willing to take the risk with that much money.

The purpose of insurance is to protect you from risks that you are unwilling or unable to take yourself. That’s why I still have full coverage on my car. The cost benefit analysis told me it was a good idea. I suggest you keep it, too!



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Dave SaysDave Ramsey is a nationally-syndicated radio talk show host and author of the New York Times bestselling books, Financial Peace Revisited and The Total Money Makeover. His life-changing advice in the area of personal finance helps people get out of debt, stay out of debt and build wealth that will last a lifetime and beyond.

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