Crackerjack Greenback Prudent Advice for a Prosperous Future

January 29, 2009

Thoughts on Planning a Wedding: Staying Organized and Registering for Wedding Gifts

Filed under: Marriage — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 3:02 pm

       I’m knee-deep in wedding planning right now, but I thought I’d share some thoughts on things my fiancée and I have found useful.

Staying Organized

       I’ve found The Knot to be very useful for keeping track of to-dos, the guest list, the budget, and deposit and payment tracker. It has some other great features we’ll be using as time goes on including the gift log and thank you note tracker and the seating charts. Plus, it tells you how many days until the wedding. 🙂 Best of all, it’s free! (Of course, they try to steer you to using their resources and referrals so they’ll get paid. There’s also a bit of advertising, but that’s normal for free online stuff.)

       Michelle, my fiancée, started a notebook to keep track of brochures and dresses and things like that. The notebook she put together works quite well. But when we registered for some wedding gifts at JCPenney, we got a free organizer notebook. We both think it’s very well done, and I’d highly recommend it if you don’t want to make your own. You just have to register for 15 items to get the free organizer, but we struggled to find even that many. We didn’t really see much that we liked at JCPenney, so we won’t be asking people to go there.

Registering for Wedding Gifts

       Although our trip to JCPenney didn’t go well, we did find tons of stuff we liked at Target. At Target, the prices were better, we found most everything we wanted, and we got two free smoothies and a free chocolate bar! 🙂 If you don’t find something in the store, you can check to see if it’s available online and add it to your registry there.

       The last thought I have is on kitchen gear. Michelle and I both enjoy cooking, but we both hate clutter. We wanted to minimize the number of single-use or nearly useless gadgets on our registry so we will have plenty of space in the kitchen. I’m a big fan of Alton Brown and his cooking philosophy, so we picked up a copy of Alton Brown’s Gear For Your Kitchen. You won’t get specific brand-name recommendations (though he does offer some ideas), but you’ll learn which items are the most useful and which are more specific. You won’t need everything he recommends, and you might want some things he doesn’t point out. But the book is very good if you’re looking to minimize how much kitchen equipment you have while ensuring you’ll have the things you need for most recipes.

       That’s it for now. If I think of any more useful ideas, I’ll let you know!

December 27, 2008

The Benefits of Premarital Counseling

Filed under: Marriage — Paul Williams @ Crackerjack Greenback @ 4:00 am

       My fiancée, Michelle, and I are going through premarital counseling sessions with the pastor who will conduct our wedding ceremony and his wife. We’ve got 5 sessions left (1 already completed) and I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about why premarital counseling is a good idea. There are many benefits, and I’m sure I won’t cover them all. But here are at least some of the benefits of premarital counseling.

Setting Expectations

Bride & Groom Donuts by Manassas Cakery on Flickr       Will you have children? If so, how many? Will both of you work or just one? Where will you live? Who will be in charge of which chores? How much personal time will you give each other? Some of these questions may seem like they can wait until later, and many couples don’t discuss these things until after the wedding. It’s good to thoroughly discuss your expectations as early as possible before you’re actually married so you can prepare for what lies ahead. By talking about these things early on, you avoid the problem of misunderstandings and misconceptions later on.


2 Peas in a Pod by Manassas Cakery on Flickr       Sure you’re in love, and you feel like you’re on top of the world after your engagement. But it’s highly unlikely that you and your future spouse are completely compatible in every aspect of your personalities, habits, viewpoints, and goals. Premarital counseling helps you identify the areas where you may be incompatible. Once you bring these issues to light, you can discuss them deeper and determine if there are any deal breakers. While it may not be fun, calling the wedding off now is much easier and better than a divorce in a few years.


Wisdom of Trees by lepiaf.geo on Flickr       Good communication is essential to a successful marriage. (I’d say it’s right up there with love. 😉 ) During premarital counseling, you’ll learn a little more about one another’s communication styles and discuss methods for effective communication. These techniques will greatly improve your chances of having good communication during marriage and your happiness as well.

Conflict Resolution

       Related to the communication issue is conflict resolution. When problems arise, and they will, how will you work together to solve them? How will you deal with each other when you have a heated argument? Premarital counseling will teach you ways to successfully resolve conflicts and help you set ground rules that you both agree to before any problems arise.


Bride & Groom Kiss by jonathanb1989 on Flickr       If you and your spouse have saved yourselves for marriage, you’ll want to understand each other’s intimacy expectations and comfort levels prior to your wedding night. It may be an awkward conversation to have with a premarital counselor, but again, setting expectations is key. Even if you have had sex before marriage, it’s important to discuss your expectations during marriage. Hopefully, you would have already discussed any past relationships, but if not this would be the time to bring them up. Skeletons in the closet can create disastrous problems in your marriage. Your pride is not worth the possibility of ruining an otherwise happy marriage.

Long-term Goals

       Another major area to discuss is your long-term goals. What are your career prospects and how will this affect your marriage? When do you want to retire? How do you envision your lifestyle together? What are your most important goals? By discussing these questions prior to marriage, you can avoid finding out that your goals are not aligned at all. Most couples will have discussed these things before setting a wedding date, but they’re still important enough to cover once more.

What Does Premarital Counseling Have to Do with Personal Finance?

       One major area of discussion is finances. You’ll talk about responsibilities and budgeting as well as any other financial issues that may be pertinent. Other topics may include your financial history, freedom to purchase items without your spouse’s approval, and your financial views. Preparing for your finances before marriage will help alleviate stress about money—one of the main causes of divorce. It will also help set you up for a successful financial future, since a budget and financial compatibility will form a strong foundation for finances in your marriage.

       Additionally, research has shown that premarital counseling reduces the chance of divorce by 30%. Divorce can wreak havoc on your emotions and your finances, so any steps you can take to avoid it are good financial moves indeed. While premarital counseling can’t guarantee you won’t end up getting a divorce, the training in communication and conflict resolution and the discussion of expectations, compatibility, intimacy, goals, and finances will definitely help you deal with some of the main causes of divorce.

The Bride and Groom by Clav on Flickr       I highly recommend all couples go through premarital counseling before the wedding. If you’re going to spend so much time planning for your wedding day, it makes sense to take a little time to plan for your marriage—hopefully the rest of your lives!

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