By Erin Steiner a freelance writer from Portland, Oregon, and an expert on frugality.
Not many couples are waiting until after they get married to move in together. In fact, most couples are already living together by the time they get engaged, or they move in together not long after the proposal (and acceptance). Even if you are very traditional and prefer to wait until after the ceremony, moving in together now is a better plan.
This is how every moving day should feel!
For one thing, research showing that cohabitation pre-wedding vows was more likely to lead to divorce has been debunked. A recent study (reported on by both The Atlantic and Time) shows that it is a person’s age at the time of their marriage ceremonies and initial cohabitation that plays the largest role in the success of the commitment, not the cohabitation itself.
For another, moving in together before your marriage ceremonies can help you save money for what will likely be an expensive wedding. That’s not a judgment on your taste – it’s just a simple fact that most weddings, even those one as inexpensively as possible, are expensive.
If you’re thinking of moving in together pre-wedding vows, here are some of the things you can do to save money so you’ll have more to spend on your wedding.
1. Move Yourselves Instead of Hiring Movers
Yes, moving sucks. It’s hard work and there’s heavy lifting and it puts you deeply into your friends’ debts, but seriously – buying everybody pizza and beer as a thank you is much cheaper than hiring professional movers. Professional movers tend to have a minimum time and rate requirement, so even if you only have half a truck load of stuff, you can spend hundreds of dollars. Plus, if you approach it correctly, packing up your stuff and moving it yourself doesn’t have to be such a huge disruption to your routine. Mint.com’s blog post “5 Tips to Avoid Hiring Movers” lists some great tips on making the process much easier.
2. Sell off Doubles of Possessions
Go through the possessions in both your and your betrothed’s homes. My money is on your finding a bunch of duplicates that you aren’t going to need. You won’t, for example, need two (or more) couches! You won’t need two blenders. While college logic dictated that you could never have too many towels, cohabitation logic says you actually can. Go through things together and decide what you’re keeping and what you can get rid of. It’s important that you both get rid of some things and keep some things – otherwise you run the risk of one of you feeling like they are still a guest in someone else’s home.
Once you’ve figured out what you’re keeping and what you’re not, it’s time to have a sale. Put your duplicates and extras up for sale online through sites like Craigslist and eBay or have a giant yard sale. You can use the cash to help pay for your wedding. Alternatively, you can donate the whole lot and write off the amount of the donation on your taxes (which will likely go up when you get married – they only really drop once kids enter the picture).
Unpacking is tomorrow’s problem!
3. Smaller Is Typically Cheaper
You might have dreams of growing old in a giant house with room for the many kids and pets you hope to have. It’s a great goal, but you don’t need to have that set-up right now. In fact, it’s better to start small. Smaller homes cost less to buy and rent and are easier to sell and give up when your family grows enough to require more space. Moreover, smaller homes cost less to heat and cool. Their property taxes are cheaper. They cost less to insure. You get the idea.
4. Don’t Buy Moving and Packing Materials
Almost every article I found on cutting moving costs (like this one on Kiplinger’s and this one in US News) insists that buying boxes and other packing materials is a waste of money. You can get boxes for free (or super cheap) at your local grocery store or at any of the department stores you have in your town.
Start at the bookstore (middle of the month is best). Bookstore boxes are hardier and able to handle more weight than a lot of other types of shipping boxes because they’re built to handle extremely heavy loads of books!
While you’re at it, instead of spending a bunch of money on bubble wrap, save your newspapers and free alternative news weeklies to use as padding. The really fragile items can be wrapped in clothes – that helps cushion the items and reduces the amount of space you’ll have to use up on packing your clothes.
5. Reduce Wedding Costs
Obviously, moving in together now will help you save money for later – only one water bill to pay instead of two, etc. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that part of having more money for your wedding is finding ways to do parts of your wedding less expensively. For example, you can make your own favors and print your own invitations. You can even make your own decorations. There are lots of ways to DiY your wedding – a quick Google search will turn up dozens of ideas.
These are just five ways that moving in together will help you find more money for your wedding. Can you think of others I’ve missed? Share them with the rest of the class! Let’s help each other out!