The following is a staff writer post from Libby Balke. She’s an amazing writer, work-at-home mother of two, and has been married almost 8 years. Please leave any questions or comments below for either Libby or Crystal.
We’d been married for exactly eight hours when we left the reception hall and headed to the honeymoon suite a few floors above the ballroom where we’d just finished dancing the night away with our families and closest friends. My new husband helped me slip out of my ridiculously large wedding gown and we climbed into bed.
But what you probably think happened next didn’t happen. At least not then. We had more important things to do first.
In the corner of the suite was a luggage trolley with all our wedding gifts piled on top of it. Like kids on Christmas morning, my husband and I dove headfirst into those cards and packages. 60 minutes later, we were the proud owners of eight place settings of Fiesta Ware, more wine and beer glasses than I cared to count, and enough towels of various sizes to furnish a dozen bathrooms. We were also $5,400 richer.
Starting an Emergency Fund Was Our Priority
At the time, my husband and I were both finishing up school; my husband was in his last year of undergrad, where he was on football scholarship, while I was two months away from earning my master’s degree. Neither one of us was bringing any liquid assets into our marriage – we were literally starting from broke.
We decided to use our wedding registry to combat this. Instead of registering for everything Bed, Bath, & Beyond had to offer, we kept our wish list to a minimum. We only asked for what we needed, keeping our registry intentionally small. Whenever someone asked us what we wanted for our wedding, we were honest: we wanted quick cash. We also let our closest family and friends know this, and encouraged them to spread the word. Maybe it was tactless, but we were young, naive, and poor; we figured our guests would rather help us build our financial future than buy a cut-glass trifle dish we’d never use.
Putting Our Wedding Gifts to Good Use
That’s how we came to be in the possession of $5,400 in cash and checks on the night of our wedding. We were like actors in a movie, throwing the cash around the room and laughing with all the giddiness of drunk newlyweds.
To be honest, the amount of money we received as wedding gifts blew us away; we were anticipating a fraction of that and far more unwanted picture frames and serving dishes. So we faced the first financial quandary of our young marriage: what would we do with the surplus?
We both immediately thought about our honeymoon. Instead of going on a real trip, we’d planned to stay a single night at an upscale hotel with a legendary restaurant in the New York Finger Lakes. It was all we could afford at the time; we’d budgeted $300 for the room and dinner. My husband proposed we use some of that $5,400 to go on a more luxurious, exotic honeymoon. Constraints on our time, however, prevented us from taking such a trip; it would be our fifth anniversary before we finally took a “real” honeymoon.
I suggested we use some of the money to buy furniture. We’d just moved into a second floor, two-bedroom walk-up, which we’d furnished with my double bed – the same one I’d grown up sleeping in in my parents house – and a 5-piece dining set. Other than that, we had next to nothing in terms of furniture. I was hoping to buy a couch, loveseat, a coffee table, and a few things to decorate the place. The day we returned to our apartment after our one-night honeymoon, though, a friend who’d just graduated offered to give us all her old furniture if we’d simply come pick it up. We agreed.
In the end, we couldn’t agree on what to buy with that money, so we did nothing at all. In addition to our brand new joint checking account, we opened a new saving account, too; the entire $5,400 was our first deposit. It became our nest egg and our emergency fund. It has kept us from needing a short term loan. And at least a portion of that initial $5,400 has remained in that account ever since.
What did you do with the money you received at your wedding? How did you start your nest egg?