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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Student Debt and Marriage: Scary Stuff

My aversion to debt is pretty apparent to anyone who's read more than a post or two. Student debt is a vexed issue, because it is a necessity for some. All I can say is "Live like a student!"if you are borrowing money and THINK before you decide on pricey private education over a public option.

But what of those who have already borrowed large amounts. A few days ago I read about law grads from prestigious institutions who cannot find the corporate job they were counting on. Today, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal, we hear of people putting off life cycle events (home purchase, marriage) so burdened are they by debt.

Here is one fellow:

Zack Leshetz, a 30-year-old lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., has $175,000 in student loans from his seven years in college and law school. Lately he has had his eye on the real-estate market. "Everyone says that it's a great time to buy a house," he says. But that is not an option right now, he says, thanks to $800 a month in payments—and another chunk of student loans in forbearance, which means payments are halted while interest accrues. "I find myself living paycheck to paycheck," he says.

He has also been engaged since March, but has held off on marriage. "There's no way I can pay for a dream wedding, or even just a regular wedding," Mr. Leshetz says. "I feel like I'm putting my entire life on hold."

What I am about to say is probably predictable. OK. I understand about the house purchase. But the wedding? The big American wedding is a "tradition" of very recent vintage.

My own wedding cost under $50.00 and the most expensive component was the German measles antibody test required by the state of Indiana. But I acknowledge that I am a scrooge of festive parties like weddings. Still: how about a pot luck dinner? a barbeque at a park? Even a dinner at a nice restaurant for a select few. I'm sure that others of a more festive nature can improve on my suggestions.

The great Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin of Your Money or Your Life list lots of frugal dating ideas and then opine, "The best part of dating is free."

So true. Same for marriage.


Seth said...

Our recent wedding was also quite frugal. I think it came to just over 100 dollars counting the license, parking at the courthouse, and Justice of the Peace fee.

That's not counting, of course, the wedding bands. Still, though, we were moderately frugal, opting for simple white gold bands.

Suzy said...

I've never understood the 'big weding' concept myself. I've never been married and not sure I ever will but I'd much rather have potluck or a bbq or something simple where I can visit with everyone and keep it small. I have some 'essentials' I'd want - church wedding, some flowers, cake..but I don't need/want fancy stuff or expensive catering.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Seth--Now that I think of it, we had hand-me-down bands from my grandparents.

@Suzy--I'm glad you like the pot luck idea. I thought people would be appalled.

Suzy said...

One of my cousins actually did have a potluck reception. She even made her own dress designed after this Gibson girl dress she saw in a magazine. She had a cake but can't remember if it was bought or homemade..but she asked all the aunts to bring something potluck(they had already asked what they could do to help) The reception was like a big family get-together. My family's pretty simple and laidback though!

Funny about Money said...

"Just a regular wedding"? {gasp}

Popular cravings for big wedding bashes go in and out of style. When I was a pup, girls expected to have a formal wedding complete with white dress, bridesmaids in evening gowns, and groom and male attendants in tuxes. Then during the hippy-dippy period that kind of extravagance became déclassé. Young women opted for backyard weddings and small receptions, much to the dismay of marketers who preyed on young couples and their deep-pocketed parents.

Now the "dream" wedding is back with a vengeance. One of my son's college classmates threw an elaborate wedding in Tahiti: invited all her friends and seriously expected them to show up. Amazingly enough, most of them did.

Hey! Why not? You're already in debt up to your head for your education. What's a few more years of payments?

Duchesse said...

Behind Mr Leshetz' difficulties is a whiff of entitlement.

Buy a wedding ring on eBay and elope! Every wedding is a "dream wedding" if it's the right person.

Frugal Scholar said...

I think these "destination" weddings are cruel to the guests. I am so naive that I at first thought that the bride and groom provided the plane tickets!

@Duchesse--That's just beautiful!