It’s that time of year. Invitations to graduations and weddings start filling your calendar.

At times, you may wish you didn’t have so many friends or a large family.

It can be overwhelming not only for your time but also for your finances. Before RSVPing “yes” to the invitation, check your finances.

Can you cut back spending in some areas to afford traveling and buying gifts?

Will you need to forgo your originally planned vacation to cover the cost of these events?

Can you use your credit card reward points to cover some or all of these expenses?

When estimating how much travel will cost, remember to include your food and transportation costs before and after the event.

You may have an impromptu gathering at a nearby restaurant the night before the event.

You may need to rent a vehicle or pay for transportation to get around the location.

Also, pay attention to additional fees the hotel may have beyond the standard room and tax – for example, parking and resort fees.

To be conservative, add a cushion to your estimated travel cost for those commonly overlooked items.

Once you’ve figured out how much you can realistically spend, make a priority list. Decide which events you can travel to and which ones you’ll need to decline.

These decisions are never easy, but necessary to stay in control of your finances.

If you’re in a predicament where RSVPing “no” is not an option (due to family expectations or you’re in the wedding party), then try these suggestions to reduce the cost of buying a gift:

1- Offer some type of service in lieu of a store-bought gift.

For example, offer your time to help the new graduate update their LinkedIn profile and resume. Or offer to housesit or take care of pets when the newlyweds go on their honeymoon.

2- Find others who would be interested in purchasing a group gift.

With this approach, you can buy something more expensive on the graduate’s wish list or the wedding registry.

3- Check your credit card reward program or any other reward program you are enrolled in to see how many points you’ve accumulated.

You may have enough points to cover all or some of the cost of a gift. They’ll never know you used points to buy their gift.

Moving forward, adjust your spending plan (aka, budget) to account for buying gifts and traveling.

If you already have a plan to save for holiday gifts, expand it to include gifts for other occasions – such as graduations, weddings, birthdays, baby showers, and other events requiring a gift.

If you’re at the age where your friends are getting married, start setting aside money to travel to the wedding and bachelor/bachelorette celebrations. From your relationships, you’ll know how extravagant your friends may be when planning their big day.

Celebrating milestone events such as graduations and weddings is a joyous occasion – allowing you to gather with family and friends.

However, attending these events can become expensive – especially with destination weddings.

If you’re serious about taking control of your finances, you’ll need to make tough decisions before RSVPing “yes” to wedding or graduation invitations.

Stay focused on your overall financial goals to help you make the right decision for your financial future.

(Update to original post from May 15, 2018)


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA®, RICP®, is a Managing Director at Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing  comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, and retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”