Simone's Blog: Money Magnet

As the Director of Affiliate Relations at HomeFree-USA, I’ve always been fascinated with how people handle their money. Like everyone else, I’ve had my financial ups and downs. In fact, it took me 32 months to pay off $32,000 in credit card bills and build up a six-month emergency fund. While that was a very difficult period, I am grateful – and wiser -- for the experience.

Through my personal experiences and working at HomeFree-USA, I’ve gained a ton of insight that I feel compelled to share. You’ll find those lessons here. Feel free to take the thoughts and ideas that resonate with you most and put aside the rest for later. I look forward to sharing my journey.

Always a member of the wedding party? Part One

Don’t let that empty your wallet.

My friend Latoya has a litany of girlfriends, and truly enjoys sharing in their major life moments. Unfortunately, those moments seem to always happen at the same time. And all of them are expensive.

Being the great friend that she is, she’s very involved in planning the bachelorette parties, baby showers, birthday parties and weddings, and is now being asked to serve as godparent to some amazing kids. She’s thrilled to be part of the celebration and wouldn’t change it for the world, but the problem is all of this costs time and money, and when you’re planning with/for people who make far more than you, setting the budget can be extraordinarily tough. So what do you do?

Here are a few things Latoya has implemented:

Set the budget early, and don’t deviate. For her friend’s wedding, Latoya and the other members of the bridal party decided to host a bridal brunch. She calculated how much she was prepared to spend and shared that with the group. The smart thing was that she came up with her own guidelines before the discussion turned to money and when she told the party how much that would be, she actually stated less than she was prepared to spend. She built in a buffer in case anything went wrong and costs increased (which, as usual for a party, it did).

Utilize people’s strengths. Having done so many parties, Latoya is clued in on the best places to get trinkets, invitations, etc. So she now always requests to be head of the ‘buying’ committee, and places orders for all party favors.

Communicate early and often. Some brides are on top of their game, and know how they want their wedding day to flow before they’re even engaged. Others are slower in their decision making, which can be brutal on the bridal party’s budget. As soon as you agree to be part of the special day, try to get a sense of the color scheme and start searching for a sensibly priced dress (that ideally also looks good on you and you may be able to wear more than once). Men, go for a rented tux and see if you can buy the ties, pocket squares, etc in bulk for the entire party.

Next week I’ll share a few more tips. Stay tuned.

And so it is.