plonkee money an english-er's thoughts on personal finance

April 6, 2009

…and when the luck begins

Filed under: philosophical — plonkee @ 2:26 pm

and when the luck begins, it’s like a wedding,
which is like love, which is like everything.

Alice Oswald

Sometimes I think that for a single person, I find the process of planning a wedding a bit too fascinating. It’s just that they always seem to be like real life, but on a more confined scale with lots and lots of emotional baggage.

If you ever write a post on weddngs that attracts a significant number of comments you will probably hear the following:

  • get an amateur or student to do the photography
  • don’t skimp on photography – the photographs are the only thing that will remain
  • use an iPod for the music
  • don’t skimp on a DJ – the music is what will get people dancing
  • cut back on the guest list
  • save money anywhere but the guest list – it’s more important to celebrate with the people you love
  • ask your friends and family to help with tasks
  • don’t ask your friends and family to help – they want to be guests not working
  • don’t serve alcohol
  • no one admits this, but at least one person is silently thinking an alcohol free wedding is the last thing they’d want (it’s probably me)

It should be clear, that if you listen to everyone you can’t win. Different people have different priorities. Should anyone ask me what I think is important in celebrating a wedding, I’d go for food, drink, clothes (in that order), those are the things that I remember most. Photographs and music are reasonably important to me but I could be as happy with cheap or free as with expensive, and if there were no flowers I wouldn’t care one little bit. And maybe you do only do it once, that doesn’t mean that you want to be paying ofor it for years to come.

Weddings are like everything else. There are a few things that are fundamentally essential- a happy couple, a marriage licence, witnesses / officiant as per legal requirements. Everything else is just for frills. In real life, what couples should do is:

  • work out a budget
  • sort out the essentials
  • work out what wedding features are most important to them
  • put more money/time/effort into the important things
  • cut back on the things they don’t care about

And they should do these things based on their own values, opinions and circumstances, not the word of an internet commentator.

But, as I said, weddings are like everything else. What we should be doing in our normal day to day lives is:

  • set a budget – or at least know our incomes
  • work out what things in life are essential and allocate money for those
  • work out what things are important, and allocate money for those,
  • put any money left over to the less important things.

The things that I think are most important for celebrating a wedding are probably not the things that you think are important (people rarely think that the clothes are more important than the photographer). But that’s ok because when it’s your wedding, you don’t have to do what I want.

Similarly, and fortunately with less stress and emotion, the things that you think are important in your life are probably different to the things that I think are important in mine. Not everyone is going to spend £2250 on a second-hand oboe, when they also need a new bathroom. (Since the shower in my bathroom is amazing, the oboe will actually make me happier.) For some of us, clothes are important and for others it’s eating out at fancy restaurants.

There are some things that we all need – things like food, and shelter, and a healthy savings account – but for most people they actually need only take up a very small proportion of our budgets. I could probably spend less than half the amount I actually do on housing if I hadn’t prioritised having my own house above other things.

Life is a balancing (or juggling) act. There’s never enough money to do absolutely everything. So you may as well prioritise the things that are most important to you, and spend your money, time and effort on those, rather than things that other people tell you that you’ll value.

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