What simple variable can save you thousands on your wedding? Location, Location, Location.

It isn’t uncommon for couples to have their wedding ceremony in one location and their reception in another.  The venue or venues of your wedding can really contribute to the debt you might acquire before you even start your family!

Here are a few tips to consider when choosing your wedding location:

1. Have your wedding and reception in the same location

This is one of the easiest ways to save money on your venue.  You will eliminate not only the second rental fee, but the transportation cost to get you, your wedding party, and your guests to the second location, as well.

 2. Rule out a wedding in a big city!

Venues in popular cities can be very detrimental to your overall budget.  In 2013, the average amount spent on a wedding was $86,916 in New York City (Manhattan) and $57,343 in Long Island.  Meanwhile, in Idaho the average cost was $16,159.  Along with the huge cost of a big city wedding, these locations also include expensive food, beverages, and lodging.

 3. Eliminate rental fees by having a backyard wedding! 

Whether you have a nice backyard yourself or know someone who wouldn’t mind letting you invite your friends and family members take over their house, backyard weddings can save you thousands.  Also, backyard weddings wipe out problematic over-booking and restrictions reception halls tend to have.  Although the intimate occasion can be cheaper and planned relatively quickly, planning on space, weather and the possibility of disturbing the neighbors must be considered.

 4. Backyard weddings are not the only venues you can save money on. 

Instead of deciding on a wedding reception hall or country club, city-run spaces like zoos, civic gardens, and restaurants are less expensive facilities.  Even university campuses have ballrooms and outdoor scenic locations to rent for large events.  Alternative places can hold sentimental value to you and your partner rather than overpriced wedding halls and popular country clubs.

 5. Weekday weddings are cheaper. 

Wedding venues tend to charge more for Saturday weddings, therefore choose another day, such as Friday or Sunday, to avoid unnecessary, extra costs.

 6. Have your wedding during the off-season. 

Because the most popular time to throw a wedding is Memorial Day to Labor Day, venues may offer discounts to brides and grooms who consider to get married during the off-season.

 7. Have an all-inclusive destination wedding. 

 Although these locations will most likely cost your wedding guests slightly more, your wedding costs will decrease.  All-inclusive resorts might possibly throw in extras based on number of guests and include dinner and drinks.


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The “Hidden Costs” of Parenting

The financial burden associated with completing a college education has generated most of the news headlines of late, but couples starting out on the road of parenthood also need to be prepared for the costs associated with seeing their child through the formidable, and expensive, Pre-K to 12th grade years, as well.  Child care, clothing, dentist appointments, school activities, and Sweet 16 parties all add up.

Here are just a few costs to consider and plan for:


After School and Day Care
The average American family with two working parents will pay $11,666 per year – or $972 a month to make sure their child is taken care of properly in the hours before and after school.

Sports and other Extracurricular Programs
Whether it’s Little League baseball or the Modern Dance Classes, registration for social, skill building programs in your community range in price from $150 to $500 per child – not including the cost of any other required equipment!

Summer Camps/Activities
Camps, vacations, viewing summer blockbuster movies, even recreation permits for using the town parks and pools can add up. These activities can cost a family more than $600 per child, on average.

Being aware of the realities associated with child rearing and having a financial plan for handling them will help you manage the costs from exceeding your family’s budget.  Below are a few tips on keeping these costs in check.

  • Plan ahead: Research programs, community centers, and camps near your home for the best services and cost to send your child.
  • Determine if your child is extremely enthusiastic and ambitious about a certain sport to consider the possibility of spending more on an elite team rather than a less expensive recreational or school sport
  • Look for used or free equipment, possibly passed down from family or friends, to save the multiple expenses on your child’s sport.
  • On milestone events like birthdays, communions, and bar/bat-mitzvah’s, ask your family and friends to contribute to your financial goals for your children. Gift registries, such as Present Value, allow you to share with family and friends what those goals are, along with the number you need to get there. This type of gifting make people feel like they are contributing to the success of your child, rather than just throwing money into an envelope.
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Weddings 101: The Groom Edition

OK, so you’ve just proposed to your fiancée, she accepted (!) and in spite of the overwhelming joy and rapture that has flooded your very being, you stop and think of something you haven’t necessarily considered before. Wedding planning.

What this means is that the foreseeable future is going to be dedicated to wedding cake taste-testings, the choosing of linen colors, and a whole lot of “Do you like this?” “What do you think of this?” “Are you listening?”

Take into account that your bride to be has been looking forward to this day her entire life. And it’s in your best interest to make her the happiest bride there is, even if you don’t necessarily know the difference between lavender and lilac.

You also have to consider that because she has been looking forward to this day her entire life, and also because Pinterest exists, she’ll most likely want to throw a lavish, unforgettable night and it’s a good idea to keep her and yourself grounded and keep the expenses in check.  

“In 2013, couples spent a record high average of nearly $30,000,” said Carley Roney, cofounder of The Knot. “Couples are more focused than ever on creating a unique, personalized and once-in-a-lifetime experience for their guests.”

Are you ready to lay out $30k on your wedding? That’s what we thought.  Here are some ways you can save:

The Registry

As much as your soon-to-be wife, and possibly you, wants to scan everything in the department store for your registry, it’s time to focus on your future rather than that olive dish that will get buried in the back of the cupboard. If you have student loan debt or if you’re trying to save up for a new home, why not let your loved ones contribute to these financial goals? Create a cash gift registry (*cough* Present Value) and make sure that whatever it is you ask for helps set up the rest of your lives together. And just in case your fiancée says that it takes the fun out of opening gifts at her shower, just explain how much more fun house hunting will be!

The Guest List

As much as your future wife is more than likely going to want everyone and their mother’s uncle’s cousin to be there on your special day, it’s important to keep in mind that every person who comes, comes with a price tag on their head. Guests are expensive and you have got to think about your budget, which is hopefully set and capped off at something that won’t give you nightmares. This means you’re going to have to make some of those manly executive decisions; this means you have to formulate a priority list. Who’s important and who’s, well, less than important? The kicker here is you want to save money…you don’t want this special day to be migraine-inducing. Less guests = less debt.

Choosing a Date

Everyone always thinks Saturday night is the greatest night to ever happen to wedding nights. What about Tuesday nights? Ever think about the money you can hold on to if you marry on a good ole Thursday night? And ‘wedding season’ which drives everyone insane during the month of June – these nights and seasons are costly! Try booking your wedding on a Thursday night, off season and settle back as you hear the gentle sounds of coins returning to your pockets. This isn’t a Kardashian wedding, you only need to impress the people you love and hold dear to you. And, they will still love the both of you even if you marry on a Thursday night, sometime during the month of September.

The Food

OK, there’s a bit of ka-ching here. While it would be nice to have Gordon Ramsay cater the entire wedding for you – it may not be feasible. However, you can easily find a mom and pop restaurant to cater for you (hopefully with a mom and pop discount). As far as alcohol is concerned, you can cut that out of the catering and ask for B.Y.O.B. A little tacky yes, but in the long run you’ll be happy with all those saved dollars. It all depends on how much you really have to spend, as opposed how much you’re dreaming you have to spend.

So – who needs debt? Not us grooms. Not us husbands to be! By taking advantage of these helpful hints, you’ll be able to relax and actually enjoy this wondrous day without that underlying fear of going broke all in one fabulous moment of ill-planned marital bliss creating. And it’ll make you a much less sweaty dance partner, which is truly what it’s all about. Looking good, feeling good – being good.



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7 Tips for Planning a Successful Baby Shower

1. Keep the interests of your guests in mind!
Although the shower is centered around the soon-to-be mother, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone will have a better time if you find activities that everyone can enjoy and don’t alienate anybody.

2. Set up a baby registry!
Guests will feel much more at ease at the party knowing that they’ve gotten you something you really want and need. In addition to setting up a standard registry, a cash registry like Present Value is a great way to start planning for your child’s financial future. Letting friends and family contribute towards something like a 529 plan as a great way to have them impact the baby’s long term wellbeing.

3. Do your best to keep a level head when planning the event!
Even though you’re hormonal and under a great deal of stress, there is no excuse for treating your guests poorly leading up to (and during) the shower. Even if guests say they don’t mind your attitude, keep in mind that excessive rude behavior or order giving will not reflect well on your future self.

4. Do your best to find a date and time that works for a majority of your guests!
Don’t panic because a few people can’t make it – you’ll never find a time that works for everyone. However, exceptions can be made, of course, to make sure close family and best friends can attend.

5. Don’t forget to prepare your camera and video recorder leading up to the shower!
You’ll want to remember the festivities for years to come, and even if a camera might seem like the least of your worries at the time, remember that as the stress of the pre-shower prep will quickly fade, the memories captured on film will not.

6. Don’t call off the shower because of a small turnout!
If only a few people RSVP to your event and you’re thinking of giving up hope – don’t. Getting to spend more personal time with a smaller group of guests can be much more fun than trying to navigate an overcrowded room full of people.

7. Don’t fret if you’re on a tight budget!
Creativity and group participation can more than make up for a lack of funds, and ideas such as potlucks where each guest brings a dish can also help to serve as an icebreaker and bring your guests closer together.

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Wedding Season Finances: 3 Money Saving Tips for Guests

The average cost of attending a wedding is now approaching $600 according to a recent study, almost doubling in the past three years. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for salaries, so it’s more important than ever to have a financial plan as wedding season begins; following a simple set of guidelines to save your money with minimal compromise and will help you emerge a seasoned wedding warrior in the fall.

Engage Your Saving Plan Early

Setting aside the funds to attend a friend or family member’s wedding is not an overnight task, and it’s easy to lose track of time and end up having to cut back heavily on lifestyle choices in the weeks leading up to the ceremony. Instead of letting yourself get caught up in a time crunch, start saving up money as early as possible. The time to begin saving for a wedding isn’t when you get an invitation, or when the ceremony is looming around the corner, it’s right when the couple gets engaged. By starting to put money aside as early as possible, saving smaller amounts at a time, you’ll reduce the amount that preparing for the wedding will intrude on your daily life.

Saving is a Group Effort

Chances are, you’re not the only person (or people) who’s looking to save money and still attend the wedding. There are a number of constructive, reasonable ways that groups of people can save together at a wedding, and two stand out: group gifts and group housing. Often giving one big, significant gift instead of a number of smaller, less important ones will have a bigger impact on the bride and groom’s life. Consider getting a group of friends together and pooling (slightly reduced) funds to surprise the newlyweds with a more valuable present! In addition to gifting, one of the more daunting aspects of attending a wedding is paying for lodging, especially when the guest hotel is extremely expensive. Rest assured that other guests will also have this stress on their minds, and that there are a few potential solutions. If you’re good enough friends with someone who lives near where the wedding will take place, consider asking them if you can stay in a guest room for a few days. If this arrangement isn’t possible, alternative housing is still a very real possibility – call up a group of friends who are also attending the wedding and suggest that you rent a house for the duration of the wedding. Of course it’s important to do the math, but splitting the cost of a rental home between a group of people will likely be cheaper and just as convenient as an overpriced hotel room.

Attired of Overspending on Clothes?

Another major wedding woe which surfaces each time an invitation arrives is the dilemma of picking an outfit for the ceremony. Buying one new dress or suit might not be the end of the world, but as the envelopes pile up and the dates get marked off the calendar, the cost piles up as well. Before reluctantly splurging on an entire wedding wardrobe, it’s important to take a step back and consider whether it’s really important to you to have different clothing for each ceremony. By re-wearing clothing you can save a great deal of money, and in hindsight it’s both practical and smart.

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Bride$maid$ Beware

Your newly engaged best friend invites you and some other friends to brunch, and when you arrive her sisters and her significant other’s sisters are there…

That can only mean one thing. She’s going to pop the question: Will you be my bridesmaid?

Bring on the high-pitched screaming, mimosas and celebrations, but when you get home – it’s time to think financially.

Step one: Know what you’re in for

Before you commit to being a bridesmaid, know the responsibilities, and costs, expected of you. If you find out after you say yes that she’s planning on a Vegas bachelorette party, a destination wedding, and that her events will be of the utmost extravagance, then you might regret your initial excitement! To give you an idea, here are a typical bridesmaid’s costs:

  • Travel: $300
    You’ll need to travel to the engagement party, the shower, the bachelorette party, and the wedding, of course. You’ll most likely need to arrive early and leave late, incurring extra hotel nights and having less flexibility to book based on price
  • Dress: $150
    The bridesmaids dress, whether you love it or hate it, you have to buy it andwear it. Keep the dress, alterations, accessories and shoes in mind.
  • Hair, makeup, nails: $100 (at the minimum)
    Most of the time, your bridal bestie will suggest getting hair and makeup done together at a salon before the wedding. It’ll be at a salon of her choosing and might even require travel time for you.
  • Wedding gifts: $100 or more
    Figure you’ll spend $100 on a wedding gift, $50 on a bridal shower gift, $50 on an engagement gift.
  • Hosting events: $100
    As a bridesmaid, you’re partly responsible for paying for the food, favors, invitations, décor, etc. for each wedding event.
  • Bachelorette party: $100 (If you’re lucky!)
    This is the bride’s last hoorah as a single woman. Be prepared to buy her drinks, entertainment and whatever makes her happy (Which probably includes a late night food run). If the bachelorette party is a destination event, it’ll be much more expensive.

Step two: Be honest with yourself

If it’s a bad time for you financially or the timing is off, be honest. Don’t say yes to please your bridal bestie. She isn’t looking to put you out and if you’re close enough to be her bridesmaid, than she’s definitely someone who will understand.

Step three: Share ideas

If you have a cost-cutting alternative to something the bride suggested, speak up! It’ll save you money and the other bridesmaids will love you for it!

Step four: It’s ok to say no

Politely declining to be a bridesmaid is completely acceptable. But if you’re reading this and thinking, “I could never say no,” then you should get ahead of the game and start saving now, especially if you’re between 20 and 30 years old! If you do say yes to being a bridesmaid, but are weary about the costs, don’t feel obligated to saying yes to every single event or activity. For example, opt out of the hair and makeup and do it yourself, or skip the bachelorette Vegas trip and send her on her way with well wishes and some appropriate party favors!

If you’re asked to be a bridesmaid, you should take it as a huge compliment. Your close friend or family member wants you to play a major role in one of the biggest days of their lives. There’s a lot to consider – and as much as everyone wants to say yes and join the bride for this memorable ride, it’s not in the cards for everyone, and that’s perfectly ok.

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The New Rules for Financing Your Wedding

It’s funny how when a new Mac OS or smart phone interface is released every other month, we all jump on-board to embrace the improvements, but when changes come to the traditional responsibilities associated with throwing a wedding, we are so much slower to adapt to anything new or different.  Or so it would seem…  If you study the state of marriage as much as we do here at Present Value, you’ll discover that well-honed traditions are, slowly but surely, evolving with the times – and nowhere is that more evident than in the who-pays-for-what-and-how arena.

There are over 2 million couples headed to the altar this year* and, except for those coming from the most conservative and well-to-do families, there are no clear cut guidelines as to who’ll be picking up the tab from the man standing in the black suit at the evening’s end.  While the bride’s family has typically been on the hook for most of the costs, that responsibility has been shifting around dramatically and falling onto different participants for several decades.  We now see both sets of parents chipping in for the costs – even if they do so after using a complicated and bizarre rationale to achieve a final tally… and increasingly, we witness the betrothed couples, especially older, more established ones, footing a larger chunk of the costs themselves.

So while the steadfast rules dictating who pays for what have certainly been loosened, it still remains adamantly clear that one of the most important initial duties the happy couple to be should perform is to sit down and engage in a candid discussion about how to handle wedding finances.  Prepare to write out a long list and have several calculators at the ready.  There are a lot of separate elements that make up your big day – all of which need to be paid for.

Here’s where couples should enlist the guidance of their parents and close friends. While a wedding ceremony and reception should certainly have all the wondrous attributes of a dream-like experience, the assistance and recommendations of others can help shape your day and ground you to the realities of cost.  Take a look at these 5 procedures you should follow when deciding who’s going to pay for your wedding:

1) Prepare a list of what is supposed to be financed. (Ceremony/Reception/Pre-Event Gatherings/Clothing/Transportation/Photographers/Flowers/Honeymoon etc.)

2) Sit down with a calculator and get a realistic estimate of the gala’s total price tag.

3) Enlist family and friends to keep you “grounded” – especially when it comes to finalizing a budget

4) Don’t be afraid to ask attendees to pony up their share of costs. Cash is probably preferable to gifts.

5) Rework the numbers again, double-check how each expenditure is covered and build in contingency costs.

The happiest day of your life is the biggest event you and your families will ever throw.  Be sure you take a realistic approach when it comes to covering the costs so that there are no surprises to interrupt your honeymoon.

* Source: CDC, National Survey of Family Growth 1/14

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How To Make Parenting Less Expensive!

Having a baby is one of life’s most beautiful moments. And while it takes a village – parents, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, etc. — to raise a child, it also takes some very deep pockets.

Researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture found that the costs to middle-income parents for a baby born in 2012 will total $241,080 by the time the child turns 17. And for that money the child only gets the basics: food, clothing, health care, housing, and education, among other necessities. Middle income is defined as $60,640 to $105,000 per year. Parents earning more than $105,000 can expect a child-rearing bill of a whopping $399,780.

Here are some tips on how to make the going easier:

1. To offset those future costs, one of the best things a parent can do is develop – and stick to – a savings plan. Opening up a 529 account is a great way to start. That money, designated for your child’s college years, has tax benefits. Every dollar you save now will be one less dollar your child has to borrow in the future. Be sure to have the funds automatically deducted from your paycheck to guarantee regular progress.

2. Day-to-day childcare is one of the more significant costs of child-rearing. Instead of hiring a babysitter for $10/hour, try sharing babysitting duties with neighbors. You take her children once a week, she takes yours once a week. Easy!

3. Look for inexpensive alternatives to after-school activities. Replace of the costly coaching and private lessons by investigating what your local town parks have to offer. You’ll be surprised at the plethora of low-cost and no-cost recreational activities available. Further still, check out the community calendar for free concerts, outings, and the like.

4. Use your local library! For free entertainment, there’s nothing better. Most libraries have a tremendous array of movies to borrow, and wonderfully entertaining outdoor programming and fascinating discussions for kids of all ages.

5. Check with your company’s human resources department for under-the-radar benefits. Many companies offer discounts from local retailers and service providers.

6. The best tip I ever heard on saving money was to drink more water. Instead of teaching your child to go for juice and soda, which are both high in calories, reach for a glass of water. It’s free, or very cheap, and will make your kids healthier in the long run.

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Four Financial Tips Engaged Couples Don’t Want To Hear, But Should!

The honeymoon period, generally considered the first year of marriage, is filled with some of life’s most precious moments: Growing closer to your true love, building a home together, and understanding the deeper meaning of companionship.

Given that love fog, it’s easy to avoid the tougher moments of day-to-day life. Finance tends to be a subject area that couples dodge and evade, which can lead to dysfunctional patterns that undermine a marriage. It’s far better to get it out in the open now, even before the I dos.

Here are four tips to help make your marriage a financial success:

1. Ask family and friends to contribute your financial goals.This may sound obnoxious and rude, but in reality, it’s not. Your loved ones often find cash gifts easier and more personal than a blender or toaster. And frankly, given the economy, everyone understands the value of a dollar these days and they want to contribute to your long-term financial success. With mounting debt in planning a wedding and setting up your lives beyond the big day, it’s become increasingly common for couples to ask for money.On a more practical side, most couples already have the gifts on a traditional registry. No one needs two coffeemakers sitting on the counter.

Creating a presentvalue.com registry, you’re making it even easier for your friends and family to make that green contribution!

2. Keep separate bank accounts and create one joint account. By starting the money conversation with, “let’s open a joint bank account,” you’re laying your financial cards on the trust table. Together, you’ll figure out how it will work as you combine your two lives. For example, along with depositing your cash wedding gifts, you may each contribute a set amount from every paycheck, and use the balance to pay joint housing bills.It’s also a good idea to have money in separate accounts. This will allow each of you the freedom to spend without the pressure of those funds having an impact on your joint finances.

3. Handle debt as a couple. It is important to have the conversation about debt as far in advance as possible. Even if only one of you has debt, it will very likely impact your bottom line as a couple. If you’re planning to make a major purchase, like a house or a car, your debt will play a significant factor in determining if you can get a mortgage or car loan. Figuring out a plan together will not only help pay off the actual debt, but it will work to keep a healthy relationship as a married couple.

4. Don’t keep any financial secrets. This concept may sound simple but, surprisingly, many couples keep money secrets. The sad reality is that finances can easily become a major stressor in a relationship and is often the cause for divorce. By keeping the money talks open and honest, you’re building a solid foundation from this day forward!

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Fox Business News Interview With Present Value Co-Founder & CEO Michael Levenson

Our CEO Michael Levenson discusses Present Value and shares his financial tips to follow before your wedding with Lauren Simonetti today on Fox Business News.


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