MONEY Careers

How to Disconnect from Work (Without Getting on the Boss’s Bad Side)

Man alone in the mountains
No cell tower in sight—you're free! Valeria Mameli—Getty Images/Flickr Open

Check out these ideas from savvy career coaches for keeping your job from spoiling your summer vacation.

Chances are, you’ll be spending some of your time off this summer with a piña colada in one hand and a cell phone in the other.

According to a recent survey by employment website Glassdoor, 61% of us have done at least some work on a vacation in the last 12 month.

Not that this is always voluntary. Of those who logged on while they were supposed to be logged off, a third did so because they felt that no one else could do their work; 28% did so to avoid getting behind; 24% say they were contacted by a colleague on a work issue, 20% by a boss. And while 20% gave up part of their time off because they were in pursuit of a promotion, nearly the same number (17%) stayed connected because they feared for their jobs.

Clearly, it’s tougher than ever to get a real vacation in these times of uber-efficiency, double workloads, and 24-hour connectedness. And yet all those factors mean you need a break more than ever—if not for your own mental health, for those you love. After all, one in 10 employees confessed that a family member had complained about their working on vacation.

Seriously, you deserve a break; you’ve earned it. So MONEY called on career coaches, business etiquette experts, and corporate wellness gurus for tips on how to put your work life on pause to finally enjoy some real time off.

1. Go really off the grid. “Plan your vacation for a destination where there is limited access to email and virtually any other way to be reached. For example, an African Safari or a cruise. An athletic vacation (like a bike trip) or one that is focused around learning (like cooking school) will have a full schedule of events and activities that are pre-planned and where your absence will be disruptive. Regardless of where you go, advise everyone that you will have limited access to email.” —Roy Cohen, a career coach and the author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide

2. Go at the right time. “Exercise good judgment about when to schedule your trip. One of my clients learned that mistake when she insisted on taking a vacation despite knowing that a transaction was about to close and that all hands were expected on deck. Her boss and colleagues were angry and did not appreciate having to cover for her during a time when they were all working against the clock.” —Roy Cohen

3. Make a list, and check it twice. “Devise a list of what is outstanding—what tasks and responsibilities need to be taken care of, where important files are, what might come up while you are away and who can take care of it. See what makes sense to delegate or put off until you return. Go over it with your boss and key people who are involved. Knowing you have a plan in place while you’re on vacation will help you enjoy it more.”—Kirsi Paalanen, a health coach who specializes in helping corporate professionals manage stress

4. Define “emergency.” Post an away message on your voice mail and email that reflects your decision about how you want to be contacted for an emergency. This will include your defining in advance what the definition is of an emergency that you want to know about and set expectations for how you will handle it— e.g. make a phone call? produce a report remotely? fly home from Asia?” —Debra Feldman, an executive talent agent

5. Call in a sub. “Make sure that you have a designated person in place to handle any unexpected events. Share enough to enable a colleague to cover for you and to show that you are a team player, but not all of your secrets or you may find your value diminished. If you are going somewhere exotic, always return with a few inexpensive but significant gifts for colleagues as an expression of your appreciation.” —Roy Cohen

6. Take people at their word. “If your bosses truly tell you not to respond to something, then really do it and give yourself that break.” —Lizzie Post, co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th edition

7. Allow yourself limited access. “A young investment banker client of mine was about to go on his honeymoon in Hawaii and asked if I thought it would be terrible if he worked on his smartphone during the trip. I told him that if I were his wife, I would throw the device into the ocean. Our compromise was that he would dedicate one half hour a day to answering and reading emails, and that he would do it completely out of sight of his wife. If it’s absolutely necessary to check in, limit communications to a set time each weekday or maybe even two to three times a week.”—Ellis Chase, a career coach and the author of In Search of the Fun-Forever Job

8. Don’t punish yourself for failure. “You want to be a great professional and parent and partner, but all are part time jobs, and you won’t always be able to be great at all roles. Forgive yourself and don’t feel guilty when you slip up. Just reset your priorities so you can get back to your family and vacation.” —George Dow, a career coach who specializes in job transitions

MONEY

How Married Couples Master Sex—and Money

Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex (season 2, episode 3)
Michael Sheen as Dr. William Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Virginia Johnson in Masters of Sex. Courtesy of SHOWTIME

Masters and Johnson may not have asked couples how their paychecks affected their sex life, but we did. And here's what we learned.

With the season two premiere of Showtime’s Masters of Sex debuting this Sunday, MONEY decided to dip into our own trove of data about people’s romantic lives. But while Masters sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson explored the nature of human sexual response through lab work, we dug into the matter from an angle closer to our hearts: couples’ paychecks.

As part of June’s exclusive Love & Money survey, we reported on how earning power impacts marriages, including the fights, secrets, and lies money inspires. But we also learned quite a bit about how who wears the pants in the relationship affects how often those pants come off. Here are some of the more titillating findings.

Egalitarian households where the husband and wife earn roughly the same have the most sex, with about 47% of couples reporting getting frisky at least once a week. Couples where the women earns less than her husband were more likely to do the deed at least once a month than other earning pairs. But couples where the woman outlearns her spouse were most likely to say they have sex less than once a month.

Of course, as Masters and Johnson could no doubt tell you, quantity doesn’t equal quality. So we also asked our survey respondents how satisfying their sex was.

Again, couples with similar paychecks outperformed their peers. Egalitarian marriages reported having the hottest sex of any earning pair, with more than half rating their sex life as “hot” or “very good.”

Households where the wives earn nothing were least content with their current sex lives. These pairs were most apt to say their sex life “could be better” (or “what sex life?”), with the women more dissatisfied than the men.

But women weren’t fond of the other extreme either: Women who earned more than their husbands were least likely to report a satisfying sex life, while men in those types of relationships were more likely to feel sexually satisfied than their counterparts in marriages where the wives earned less or nothing.

Across the board, men were easier to please when it came to sex, the size of their paycheck notwithstanding. More men than women said they felt satisfied with their sex lives in every single type of earning relationship.

But there was one area where men and women largely agreed: Over two thirds of husbands and wives said they check their bank balance more often than they have sex.

MONEY Ask the Expert

The Best Ways to Access Cash Abroad

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: My 23-year-old daughter will be leaving for France and Spain next week. What is the best and safest way for her to carry money? —K. Bird, Charlotte, N.C.

A: Assuming she’s going for a short time—anywhere from few weeks to several months—her best option will be to carry a debit and credit card issued by an American bank, says John Gower, senior banking analyst at NerdWallet. But she’ll want to be strategic about which institutions she gets these cards from and how she deploys them.

Typically, U.S. banks charge a fee of 1 to 3% of the total transaction amount each time you use a debit or credit card internationally. If you use your debit card to pull out funds from ATMs abroad, you’ll also get hit with an international ATM fee that’s typically around $2, though Gower has seen banks charge upwards of $5. That’s in addition to whatever the ATM you use will charge. So your daughter could be looking at costs of $10 or so each time she takes out $100. This may tempt her to just take out large sums at once, but carrying large amounts of cash through foreign cities isn’t ideal either.

Instead, to cut down on those ATM fees, consider having her open an account with a U.S. bank that has international branches in her destination so she can avoid the international ATM fee. (Citibank is one with many branches overseas.) Or she could open an account with a bank that has international partnerships. Bank of America, for example, is part of the Global ATM Alliance and because of this allows its customers to use their cards at any member banks’ ATMs for free.

Since credit cards offer greater fraud protection than debit cards, Gower recommends that she have a credit card with her as well. The best choice: A card aimed at international travelers that waives foreign transaction fees and has “chip and pin” technology, meaning a microchip is embedded in the card. Because most European countries use this style of card, she will decrease the chances that stores will have trouble reading her card. MONEY likes the GlobeTrek Rewards Visa from Andrews Federal Credit Union, which she can join by signing up for free with the American Consumer Council. This chip-and-pin card has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

If your daughter gets this card, she’d be well advised to use it for her everyday purchases—rather than paying the 3% foreign transaction fee her debit card will charge. Of course, this only makes sense if she’s responsible enough to pay her bill off in full every month.

Does she have plans to be away for quite a while—maybe studying abroad for a year? In that case, she should consider opening an account with a local bank. While there can be hassles involved with understanding another country’s banking rules, she will avoid out-of-network ATM fees and have a debit/credit card that is more universally accepted than an American card might be, says Gower. But she should also keep a U.S. account active in case of emergency, so that someone at home can easily transfer funds to her.

No matter which option your daughter goes with, she’ll want to bring at least two different types of electronic payment. That way if her debit or credit card isn’t accepted by a store or is stolen she has a backup option. She’ll also want to alert her financial institutions prior to departure of where she’ll be going and how long she’ll be there so that the provider doesn’t cancel or halt her card thinking the charges are fraudulent activity.

MONEY Ask the Expert

Do I Owe Taxes on a Windfall from a Retirement Plan?

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: I am the beneficiary of a $15,800 death benefit from my dad’s pension plan. I was under the assumption that I would not be taxed on it, but is that the case? I want to make sure I deduct any taxes before I distribute the money to my siblings. —Tanya, White Plains, N.Y.

A: The answer depends on the source of the death benefit. If the payout is in the form of a life insurance policy—what your case sounds like—you won’t owe any taxes on the $15,800.

But the tax consequences would be different if you had inherited a tax-deferred retirement plan, such as a 401(k), says Charlotte, N.C. financial planner Cheryl J. Sherrard. The money in that kind of plan is taxed only when the owner makes a withdrawal. As an heir, you would owe income taxes on any distributions.

When you inherit a retirement account, you have few payout options. You can take the full amount in a lump sum, which could push you into a higher tax bracket if the windfall is significant. If you do that, you can request federal and state tax withholding when you fill out the distribution paperwork. Or you can ask for the full amount and pay the taxes later.

To spread the distributions over several years, you can open what’s called an inherited IRA and then move the retirement plan assets into this new account (assuming the qualified retirement plan allows you to). You generally have to start taking annual distributions no later than Dec. 31 following the year of the original account holder’s death. Since the rules are tricky, talk to a tax professional, advises Sherrard.

In this case you would either be gifting a small amount to your siblings yearly, or the full amount all at once. But keep in mind that as a sole beneficiary you are not required to give any money to them.

And no matter what, don’t rush to share your inheritance until you have the full picture of what your father left behind.

“You may want to wait until any other assets of your father’s have been split among all siblings, and then if you desire to equalize with them, you can do so via that net retirement money,” says Sherrard. “This is a common gotcha when one child inherits a taxable asset and then needs to take taxes into consideration before splitting it up.”

Have a question about your finances? Send it to asktheexpert@moneymail.com.

 

MONEY Kids & Money

8 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Be Financially Independent

Kid learning to use abacus
When it comes to money management, your child can't do this alone. Laurence Dutton—Getty Images

Want your children to develop good money habits for life? Then teach them well from the start. Use these tips from parents and top personal finance experts as your lesson plan.

To help your kids master essential money skills—and some day break free from you—devote time to financial home schooling. Parents are the biggest influence on their children’s financial habits, more so than work experience or financial literacy courses, according to the National Endowment for Financial Education. For ideas on how to do this, see how personal finance and parenting bloggers and authors teach their kids.

1. Tie a “No” Today to a “Yes” Tomorrow

“My wife and I have three children, ages 6, 4, and 2. While they are still a little young for in-depth money lessons, we make a point to involve them in family finances and try to make talking about financial responsibility and independence a part of our daily life. This usually happens in a thousand little, ordinary ways. An instance that comes to mind is when my four-year-old son asked if we could go to a local pizza and games restaurant that he loves. I said no, but went on to explain to him that it costs a lot of money for our family to enjoy an evening there. I reminded him of our vacation in a few months and said we were saving up so that we can have a lot of fun on our trip. It was a good way to teach him about the important principle of delayed gratification and the lesson that sometimes you have to say ‘no’ to things you want now, to enjoy better things in the future.” —John Schmoll, Jr., Frugal Rules

2. Let Them Make Spending Mistakes

“From the time our children were three or four years old, we’ve given them opportunities to earn money by doing chores and projects. When we’re out shopping, they can bring their own money and spend it however they’d like (within reason!). Not only do they learn money management skills, but this helps prevent the ‘gimme’ attitude. If a child sees something they want and asks if we can buy it, I always respond, ‘Do you have enough money for it?’ It also gives them the chance to make money mistakes. They’ve learned valuable lessons when they’ve purchased cheap items that broke almost immediately, and we’ve had great discussions on how to make wise purchases. We’d much rather they made $3 mistakes when they are little to hopefully prevent some $3,000 and $30,000 mistakes down the road.” — Crystal Paine, MoneySavingMom, author of Say Goodbye to Survival Mode?

3. Show Them That Work is Rewarding

“’I get an M&M mama?’ my talkative toddler asks. I reply, ‘Yes, if you complete the job.’ Even at 2 1/2 years old, I’m attempting to lay financial foundations in my son’s life. At this age, he doesn’t care a thing in the world about real money, but when I break out the M&Ms he knows I mean business. That’s because chocolate is a special treat reserved for a reward. At this stage, candy talks, and I can teach my son about finances with food. He is learning that when he uses the potty, picks up after himself, or helps me with a chore, he is paid for his work in delicious, color-coated chocolate candies. He’s beginning to understand that hard work is rewarded. That’s a trait my parents instilled in me, and I desire to pass along. Cash and chore charts will eventually replace sweets, but until then, candy paychecks are perfectly fine by him. Coins just don’t taste as good.” — Kim Anderson, Thrifty Little Mom

4. Break Out the 24-Hour Rule

“I’m blown away that my teenage daughter still remembers going to the flea market together years ago and learning a cool buying lesson from her mom. (As all us moms know, this is a rare and exotic occurrence!) Though I liked a pair of earrings, I waited a day to think it over, knowing that they would likely still be there if I changed my mind. Sure enough, after a day of thinking about it, I realized they weren’t all that special and that I’d rather wait to get something that I loved. To this day, whenever my daughter and I are out shopping and can’t make a decision, we invoke the ’24 Hour Rule.’” —Beth Kobliner, author of the forthcoming book Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not) and a member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans.

5. Connect Saving, Spending, and Giving From the Outset

“My wife and I have a four-year-old son, and we’re just now beginning to teach him the true value of money and how it is a tool to be used for different purposes. We’re doing that through the use of three money jars. When he earns money through little jobs we have given him, depending on the day he will put the money in one of three jars. One day for giving, one for saving, and one for spending. On the last day of the week he can choose which jar to put his money in. He can never buy anything unless he has the money available in the spending jar. He also sees importance of saving for the future, and the joy of giving to others. It’s truly a joy to see when the ideas of giving and saving start to register, and it’s so fun to see the smile on his little face when he’s giving to our church, or to a friend through his giving jar. — Peter Anderson, Bible Money Matters

“Our kids are still very young, but at ages 3, 5, and 6 we’re doing our best to teach them the importance of spending, saving, and giving. Last summer, we made piggy banks as a family, and each child has three in their bedroom. One for saving, one for spending, and one for donating. Anytime they make money at a lemonade stand or receive birthday money, they split it up equally among their three jars. It’s not a huge act, but it does start the process at a young age that it’s okay to spend some of your money, as long as you’re giving back to others and saving as well.” — Anna Luther, My Life and Kids

6. Show Them the Price—and the Path

“We have young kids, but we’ve started occasionally working with our five-year-old daughter, Kate. One day while shopping with us she discovered My Little Ponies and asked if she could have one. We explained that we were planning on using our money for other things right now (a phrase we prefer to ‘we can’t afford it’). We shared with her that we would love to help her earn the money to buy it herself. We told her to write down the price and start saving money for it. Over the next couple of weeks we gave her little odd jobs to do around the house to earn the money, quarters and dimes at a time. She worked hard until she’d saved enough. Then we went to the store, and she got to buy her pony. She was so proud. It was a great lesson in money math, delayed gratification, and the power of saving.” — Philip Taylor, PT Money

7. Talk About Debt, Too

“My two boys aren’t quite old enough for serious money lessons yet, but one thing I’m excited to teach them early on is the importance of smartly managing debt. If they want to buy something on their own, like a toy, they’ll have three choices: 1) Buy it now, 2) Save to buy it later, or 3) Borrow money from us. If they choose to borrow, they’ll have payment terms and interest just like a regular loan. My hope is that they can learn the consequences of debt, both good and bad, before it has any real-world implications for them and without the lectures and scare tactics. Then they’ll have the skills and experience to make smarter choices once they’re out on their own.” — Matt Becker, Mom and Dad Money

8. Make Them Work for Wants

“A key factor in reaching financial independence is what you spend. Some spending is needed and necessary. But it’s the ‘wants’ that can get people in trouble. Therefore, when our kids ask for a non-essential item, we reply with a two-step plan: 1. First, wait a week. If you still want it, we’ll get it then (most times the ‘want’ goes away by the end of the first day); 2. If you still want it after the week passes, you have to work around the house to earn half of the purchase price—even if you have enough in savings to pay for it. The second step forces them to think if the amount of work required to purchase the item is worth it to them. If they follow through with the required work, then we know that they’re serious about the purchase, rather than just expressing a fleeting, short-term desire.Several times the “acquiring of money to pay for the thing” becomes almost exciting as the actual purchase.” — Kevin McKinley, On Your Money

More on helping your kids become financially independent:

 

 

MONEY Budgeting

Say Yes to a Cheaper Wedding Dress

Bride and Groom
Look great, spend less. Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography

You want this once-in-a-lifetime outfit to look great. But that doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on your dress (or the groom's suit). Try out one of these ideas for paying less.

Couples spend nearly $30,000 on average to get married in the U.S., according to TheKnot.com. In this three-part series, we asked in-the-know wedding bloggers to share their best ideas for throwing a great party on a budget. Part one offered tips on picking the place, which is your single biggest expense (typically about half of the budget). Part two served up eight ideas for saving money on food and drink. Today’s final installment will help you score a deal on the all-important dress—and tux for the groom.

1. Make the Dress Your “Something Old”

“Shop your mom’s closet and have her wedding dress customized to fit your style, or hit up some consignment shops and see what they have. I’ve stumbled across some gorgeous raw silk wedding gowns at Goodwill that were selling for a steal (think $20 to $50). The fabric alone is worth way more than that, and you could easily take the dress to a seamstress and have her re-work the style for a fraction of the cost of a new dress. While it wasn’t my actual wedding, for a wedding shoot in Paris with my husband I wore my mom’s wedding dress from the ’60s. It has a mod vibe, so it still felt current.”— Sarah Darcy, Classic Bride

2. Score the Store Sample

“If you can find a discontinued dress, you will get an even bigger savings. The shop has to get rid of the sample since they can’t order the dress after discontinuation. So you are doing the shop a favor by taking it out the door. These dresses have often been tried on before, but so has most of the clothing you buy in any store, so that shouldn’t be a deterrent.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride on a Budget

3. Hunt for Designer Discounts

“Shop sites like NearlyNewlywed.com and PreOwnedWeddingDresses.com to find designer dresses at a discount, or check out local bridal shops when they are hosting sample sales to score a major deal on your wedding dress.” — Jessica Lehry Bishop, The Budget Savvy Bride

4. Look Past the Wedding Label

“One of the best ways to save is get a white dress that is not marketed as a wedding dress. If you still want that more traditional wedding look or a more classic dress, I like to look at bridesmaid dress options that come in white.” —Meg Keene, A Practical Wedding

5. Adopt a More Casual Look

If planning a beach or destination wedding, there’s no need to go all out with a wedding dress. Check the clearance racks and even consider a cocktail dress (maybe one with a bit of color). Any dress can be fancied up with a colorful sash or even a pretty crocheted vest or shrug. I mention this because I recently featured a shoot that showcased an $8 dress from Target on clearance. It could easily work for a bride that wanted to wear a dress in a pastel color. It looked beautiful with a crocheted vest over it.” — Brenda Bennett Maille, Brenda’s Wedding Blog

6. Ditch the Tuxedo

“For the guys, consider suits instead of full-blown tuxes. You can get a ton of mileage out of a good suit, and stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic sell them for not-so-staggering prices.” — Dana LaRue, The Broke-Ass Bride

7. Go In as a Group

“Many of the major tuxedo stores will offer a group discount, and often the groom will get his tux for free with a certain number of groomsmen rentals. Be sure to ask about these discounts before ordering. Also, associates will add all accessories at the time of rental (cufflinks, pocket squares, shoes), but not all of them may be required for rental. Ask if anything can be removed. Your groomsmen might all have their own black shoes and can save money by not renting them.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride on a Budget

MONEY Ask the Expert

What’s the Tax Impact of Gifting Money from a 401(k)?

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Robert A. Di Ieso, Jr.

Q: My sister has cashed out her 401(k) and wants to give it to me as a gift. How will this affect us tax-wise? The amount is about $14,000. —Beverly, Benton, Ark.

A: Lucky for you, there will be no tax ramifications to you for accepting the gift. But your sister will have to square up with the IRS.

Because your sister cashed out her 401(k), she will owe income taxes on the total amount withdrawn, says St. Petersburg, Fla. financial planner Helen Huntley. If she was younger than 59½ when she pulled the money out, she will also be hit with an additional 10% early withdrawal penalty.

Keep in mind that while your sister probably won’t owe gift tax—$5.34 million in property can be transferred tax-free over one’s lifetime—she may need to inform the IRS. Each year, you’re allowed to give up to the annual gift tax exclusion limit (this year $14,000 per person, though a married couple can double that) without reporting the transfer of funds to the IRS. Above that, the gift giver will need to file a form 709, and the gift will be subtracted from their total lifetime gift and estate tax exclusion.

MONEY Budgeting

Wine and Dine Your Wedding Guests for Less

Signature Cocktails
With a fun signature cocktail, you can skip other hard liquor. Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography

The average bride and groom fork over $66 per guest on food and drinks alone. Learn a few tricks for getting that tab down, way down.

Couples spend nearly $30,000 on average to get married in the U.S., according to TheKnot.com. In this three-part series, we asked in-the-know wedding bloggers to share their best ideas for throwing a great party on a budget. Part one offered tips on picking the place, which is your single biggest expense (typically about half of the budget). Part two below serves up eight ideas for saving money on food and drink. Coming tomorrow: the all-important dress.

1. Entertain Off-Hours

“Skip a sit-down dinner and have a cocktail reception with only hors d’oeuvres, or just have a punch and dessert reception. If your wedding isn’t happening at mealtime, who is going to complain about getting to eat a bunch of delicious desserts or snacks?” — Meg Keene, A Practical Wedding

2. Make Your Bar Sparkle

“Oh man, options are endless! Aside from potluck or self-catering, think picnics with finger foods or brunch with a mimosa bar. The earlier time will save you on liquor and dinner-like meal costs. For a mimosa bar—could even be a Bloody Mary and mimosa bar—buy a case of $5 sparkling wine and a decent vodka and the fixings in bulk at Costco. Set them out in a pretty arrangement, and let guests help themselves. Considering that open bars can run in the thousands of dollars, this is a very affordable option that covers a multitude of bases, and allows for ‘virgin’ options of the drinks, since it’s a build-your-own type of deal. Never be afraid to buy beer and wine at Costco or Sam’s Club.” — Dana LaRue, The Broke-Ass Bride

3. Truck It In

“An idea for more laid-back and less formal affairs is food trucks. They are so fun and are a great alternative to the stale concept of a buffet. Hire several to offer guests a mix of different flavors, and have a few dessert trucks on hand too! I’ve seen a wedding where a food truck that made doughnuts was brought in after the reception. They add a fun and different touch. And because food trucks will save you from a sit down meal, you won’t need to pay for servers. Unless you get several food trucks, this is probably best for weddings with a smaller guest list.” Sarah Darcy, Classic Bride

4. Add Your Signature

“If you decide to have an open bar, you can limit what is available. You can restrict it to beer and wine only, or add house liquors. If top-shelf liquor doesn’t fit your budget, don’t serve it. Your guests won’t mind. If a complete open bar doesn’t fit in your budget, consider beer and wine plus a signature cocktail. Name it after the couple, incorporate local flavors, anything can make it really unique. And, if all else fails, close the bar for an hour during dinner and save yourself a bunch of money.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride On a Budget

5. Feed Fewer Folks

“Simply put, food and beverage is meant to be consumed by your guests, right? So it’s logical that the more guests you have, the more money you’re going to spend. If you need to cut your costs (or just want to get the most bang for your buck), then start by taking a look at your guest list. Make cuts there first so you won’t have to make severe cuts to your food and beverage budget.” — Lauren Grove, Every Last Detail

6. Order In

“Consider choosing a local restaurant to prepare food for your wedding. Sometimes their prices are cheaper than a traditional wedding caterer.” — Jessica Lehry Bishop, The Budget Savvy Bride

7. Skip the Steak

“Many sit-down weddings give options for entree choices, and one of those is almost always steak. Don’t feel pressured to serve a filet mignon over a prime rib. The filet option can add around a $10 per head cost, regardless of if your guests choose it. Make delicious choices for the cocktail hour and your guests won’t even think about the cut of meat at dinner.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride On a Budget

8. Bring Your Own Bottles

There are a variety of ways to DIY the bar. You can totally do it yourself by buying your own alcohol and mixers, and then hiring people, like college students, to serve. You can do a half DIY, where you buy your own alcohol and then the caterers provide the bar set-up and servers. We did this for our wedding, and it was great. All we had to do was buy the alcohol and drop it off at the venue, and we saved so much since venues sell alcohol at a huge markup. They will charge maybe $10 a cocktail, where you can make it for $4.” — Meg Keene, A Practical Wedding

 

MONEY

8 Ways To Throw a Memorable Wedding for Less

Outdoor wedding venue under a tree
On average, couples spend $13,385 on the wedding venue. Charlotte Jenks Lewis Photography

With the busy June wedding season drawing to a close, it's time for couples looking to marry next year to get going. To jump start your planning, check out these novel ideas from savvy insiders.

Updated on June 26, 2014.

Couples spend nearly $30,000 on average to get married in the U.S., according to TheKnot.com. In this three-part series, we asked in-the-know wedding bloggers to share their best ideas for throwing a great party on a budget. Up first today: the place, which is your single biggest expense (typically about half of the budget). Coming tomorrow and Friday: Food and drink, and the all-important dress.

1. Book a Table (or 10)

“Renting a restaurant can sometimes be an incredible cost saver, and chances are you’ll be able to find one that fits your style (and taste buds). For my wedding, we found this great old French home that is a restaurant on the Mississippi Coast. It even had our color-scheme, white with touches of green. Because it was a restaurant, we didn’t have to pay extra for tables, chairs, tablecloths, silverware, and wait staff. We only paid for food. We didn’t even have to pay the normal fee for renting a restaurant, because we had it in a small side courtyard and the restaurant stayed open the whole time. I think we saved around $4,000 doing it this way than if we’d had it at a more traditional venue. This works best for more intimate weddings. We only had 40 people at ours.” — Sarah Darcy, Classic Bride

2. Stay Away From the Peak

“A day in June will command a higher price than a day in January. If you are able to keep your date flexible, you should be able to save between $1,000 and$1,500, or even more if you opt for a weekday instead of weekend. Because it’s an off-peak time, you may also be able to get a lower rate for some vendors, like a wedding band. Your guests may also thank you for the winter wedding, as airfare and hotel rates for on off-season destination will be lower as well.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride On a Budget

3. Be a Savvy Decorator

“Look for in-season blooms. Re-use bridesmaids bouquets for reception decor. Or skip flowers altogether! Use candles and Chinese lanterns to set the mood, and ribbon for a little extra oomph. Know a bride who is getting married around the same time you are or one who is using the same event space? Go in with her to share decorations! Everyone saves!” — Dana LaRue, The Broke-Ass Bride

4. Stick to One Place

“The wedding industry can pressure you into thinking you need a great creative place for the ceremony and another great creative space for the reception. But there is no reason to pressure yourself to have two separate places. Your guests are not going to care if it’s in the same location, and while they will travel to both spaces for you, they will probably be relieved you saved them another car trip. If you do marry in a church, you obviously can’t have the reception in the same space as the ceremony, but check if the church has a reception hall. They’re often underused and really nice.” — Meg Keene, A Practical Wedding

5. Don’t Be Shy About Borrowing

“Most venues host events other than weddings and may have items in storage for those occasions that you can borrow for free. My wedding was beach-themed and for the centerpieces I wanted hurricane lamps with floating candles. When I described what I was picturing to staff, they brought almost the exact same centerpieces out of storage and let me use them. Another friend wanted string lights, and when she asked the venue for recommendations on where to rent some, they already had them in a closet.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride On a Budget

6. Lean on Your Friends

“If you know you’ll have lots of extra hands willing to help on your wedding day, consider going the DIY route on flowers. My biggest advice would be to keep it simple. Choose only one or two varieties of flowers. It’s hard to make a bouquet of creamy white peonies and hydrangeas look bad.”— Sarah Darcy, Classic Bride

7. Buck Tradition

“Consider having your wedding in a local park (check permit limitations), library, movie theater, or museum. The less they hold standard events, the better chance you may be able to negotiate a really stellar price. Consider what you and your fiance love doing and explore from there.” — Dana LaRue, The Broke-Ass Bride

8. Think of Everything

“When you book a venue, be sure to find out what ‘extras’ are included. The ‘cheapest’ venue might come without tables, linens, silverware, and many other items that you will need to rent. A full service venue can save you money—and save you from having to coordinate multiple vendors. A friend rented a beautiful courtyard and loft. But the outdoor courtyard had no lighting, a problem for nighttime dancing, and the venue only had seating for 80, despite fitting 120. So my friend needed to rent lights and seating for 40. What had initially seemed like the best deal quickly became as costly as other venues.” — Lisa Sokolowski, A Bride on a Budget

Update: Tip No. 4 from Meg Keene was changed from the original published version.

 

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