Credit Education Week Canada: Celebrating Financial Wins

Talking about money is one of the last real taboos left for the average Canadian.  It’s my personal belief that the average family would much sooner have “the talk” about “the birds and the bees” than a frank discussion about finances.  Capital One Canada and Credit Canada Debt Solutions are helping defeat that taboo by celebrating financial wins during Credit Education Week Canada (CEWC).  Sharing personal stories is a great way to get these topics out in the open and help everyone live a healthier financial life.

CEWC is an annual event that his held during the second week of November.  It began in 2007 when Credit Canada Debt Solutions teamed up with Capital One Canada to begin helping Canadians manage their finances at all stages of life.  The last ten years have witnessed CEWC grow to the current nationwide tally of more than 170 financial education events across Canada.  Kudos to the people behind the scenes of the CEWC, as well as to Capital One Canada and Credit Canada Debt Solutions for helping to put financial literacy and proper credit education on our collective national radar.

My Financial Win: Saying “I Don’t” to Wedding Dues

Roughly five years ago my social media feeds started changing.  The pictures started going from youth doing youthful things at 3 AM in a university setting, to *gasp* real adults doing real adult things.  Cue the endless montage of engagement rings, save the dates, and wedding pictures.  Most of this marriage and wedding stuff seemed kind of fun and I figured that my wife might like to try it sometime.  The potential problem was that matrimonial bliss appeared to come with a massive price tag.

If you haven’t taken the plunge or dipped your toe into the swirling industrial vortex that is the wedding business, then let me explain something to you.  Whatever you think an item or service should normally cost, if you attach “wedding” to that item or service then you should triple that initial estimate.  For example, whatever you think the price tag is on paying someone competent to come take a few pictures of you, you need to triple it before you even come close to getting at what a “professional wedding photographer” will cost.

Credit Education Week CanadaAs a consequence of this marriage reality, many young Canadians spend a pretty penny in order to pay for their big day.  I’ve read that the average nuptials now cost upwards of $30,000.  If you know many twenty- and thirty-somethings that have 30 grand lying around to pay for a nice party then you hang out with a different crowd than me (congrats).  With financial problems often being cited as a large part of relationship stress for most couples, the idea of borrowing a ton of money for a wedding seemed counterproductive to my wife and I.

So we didn’t borrow money.  Not a penny.

Instead we saved, planned, and stayed fairly disciplined – while at the same time having two of the most enjoyable weeks of our lives.

With many friends and family members having to travel no matter where the wedding was held, we decided to do a small destination wedding.  We knew that it was asking a lot of people, so we decided to take our “complimentary room” (as part of the wedding package, most resorts will give the bride and groom their room for free) and instead spread that value over the cost of everyone’s accommodations.  We also decided to purchase the modest clothing we asked our wedding party to wear.  Finally, we expressly asked people NOT to give us wedding gifts, as their presence truly was their gift given the substantial sacrifice many people made in order to come.

The whole wedding adventure was an unbelievable experience, and we thoroughly enjoyed a generous amount of time with our family friends that never would have occurred under any other circumstances.  The trip was fairly easy to budget for because the cost was entirely up front with no hidden fees at an all-inclusive resort.  Our actual ceremony cost less than some people pay for their floral arrangements!

What Will Your Financial Win Be?

When it comes to deciding on a personal fit for life’s big expenses there is no one-size-fits-all answer.  Some people really look forward to their big wedding day and can justify a large, elaborate celebration.  Others would rather spend the money on an extensive honeymoon, while still other couples prefer to purchase a larger home or an upgraded car as their luxury of choice.  Your financial win might not look like mine, and it doesn’t necessarily need to include a large sacrifice.  We looked to save money in several places when it came to our wedding, (remember that everything is negotiable!) but the majority of our win came from being realistic about our potential costs, creating a savings plan, and then sticking to it by consistently keeping our goals in mind.

If felt great to say “I do” with the ocean breeze at our backs and our future together ahead of us.  The celebration with our friends and family is something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives.  But these experiences were made all the sweeter because we could experience them without any financial worries creeping into the back of our minds and weighing us down.  The preplanning we’d done in order to stay organized and on budget allowed us to feel like we deserved to have fun and that we’d earned the rewarding experience.  It also gave us a lot of confidence that we could realize other financial wins as we transitioned into adulthood.

I believe that most Canadians are humble individuals, and that we instinctively shy away from sharing out financial wins for fear of being labelled braggarts.  We need to move past these reservations and understand that while our financial wins will come in all shapes and sizes depending on our specific situations, we can all take inspiration and key lessons from each other’s success.

This post was sponsored by Capital One Canada but all opinions are my own.

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