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Commandments of a Cheapskate: The grand finale

Trying to escape the craziness of the wedding industry unscathed.

Just over two years ago, I wrote the first in a series of cheapskate columns.

Like most things in my life, I didn’t just go out on a whim. I had been walking around with the idea for a satirical column for months, agonising over whether it would be a good idea at all. If life was an investment, my appetite for risk would put me squarely in the money-under-the-mattress category … Would people get my off-beat humour? Apparently, sarcasm is the lowest form of wit. Is it even a good idea for a camera-shy introvert to put their life and views out there for the world to judge?

As the daughter of a minister (the kind that preaches in a church, not the kind that promises sunshine and happiness if you vote for them) I’ve always had a natural affinity for a soapbox, but I was also well aware that the type of sermons that tell people to put money aside for a good cause are generally much less well received than the types that promise land and jobs.

After significant scenario-planning, I decided that this was something I had to do. I braced myself for the fallout and started shopping for comment section tombstones.

The one scenario I didn’t plan for was that I would receive an e-mail, funnier than anything I could ever write, asking me out. One would think that at my age, a plummeting metabolism, growing cynicism and crow’s feet would unite to automatically protect me from any suitors, but apparently, if you understand compounding and know your way around Excel, there is an inexplicable allure to a frugal woman!

So here we are, one week away from saying our I dos … The ride has been unexpected in more ways than one.

Despite my best efforts to convince the family that a wedding at home affairs would do, and that my pale skin colour would make it impossible to distinguish the person from the dress, my pleas have fallen on deaf ears. Apparently, this is easily fixed by some spray tan that covers you in a light orange … sorry ‘bronze’, although it comes with the heightened risk that you may have to introduce yourself to the wedding guests.

I’ve also tried to sell an idea for a pop-up boerewors roll stand next to the church as this would allow us to make a small profit from the event, but the broader circle of friends immediately waved this away as “too left field”.

If you haven’t recently been exposed to the craziness of the wedding industry, consider yourself lucky. It is a world that bears some resemblance to the South African economy from the outside, but once you enter, things change for the worst. Inflation easily runs at 20%. A second-hand … sorry “pre-loved” dress can set you back several tens of thousands of rand easily. However, the shop would be more than happy to resell it for 60% of the retail price afterwards. You can pocket 40% of that. By my calculation, no matter how frugally we live, the marriage would have to last at least 90 years before we would break even given such extravagance. So much for the Excel spreadsheet.

And while you can have an amazing meal at an upmarket restaurant for R350 per person, most wedding caterers would only be able to supply boerewors rolls on this budget. This would exclude the caramelised onions.

Scared that I would not only have to spend all the money under my mattress to host this wedding, but that I may need to sell the mattress itself, I’ve decided to rather let (some) sanity prevail.

These are my suggestions:

  • Get married in autumn/winter. This is considered off-season and most venues offer significant discount. While you can always ‘filter’ your way to a beautiful wedding, Photoshop is less helpful when it comes to protecting your bank balance.
  • Reduce the guest list. I realise that not inviting those family members you haven’t seen for years is a risky move. To solve this, you may want to host the ceremony in a place that is difficult to locate on Google Maps. Like Joburg.
  • Use your connections. While a few people thought it was quite a big ask to expect my dad to walk me down the aisle and officiate the ceremony, I’ve reminded them that we all had to make sacrifices. Some of us had to go as far as wearing a white dress.
  • (If you are lucky enough to count the other type of minister among your circle of friends, remember that Waterkloof Air Force Base is always available …)
  • Break with tradition. Most guests would survive if they didn’t receive some coffee beans, seeds or handmade soap as a gift, especially if it means they can actually get caramelised onions with their boerewors rolls.
  • Avoid debt. While I will probably be forever indebted to my friends, family, family-to-be and husband-to-be for the tremendous effort they all went to to contribute to this event, borrowing money has never even been a discussion point.

Ultimately, I guess, the best decision is to choose your spouse wisely. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I have received is to keep your eyes wide open before you marry someone, but to close them afterwards.

I never imagined that writing a cheapskate column aimed at encouraging other people to live below their means could yield such an outsized return for me. I’ve been incredibly fortunate.

PS: If anyone needs help planning a wedding in Excel, I know a great guy. Would be more than happy to rent him out at a discounted rate for Moneyweb readers.

PPS: This column concludes the Commandments of a Cheapskate series. Today is my last day at Moneyweb. Thanks to everyone for their support over the past six years.

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Wishing you the best of luck Ingé with the upcoming marriage!

Your writing will be missed at Moneyweb, good luck with your future endeavours

The second piece of ‘best advice’ and one that has kept Spouse and me stable for almost 50 years: Forget about just meeting each other halfway. There will be times when you have to give 80 percent.
Live long, be happy and go well. We will miss you.

Best Wishes for the future Inge. We will miss your writing.

Neeee!, why leaving now? You’re going to be missed.

On the side, I always watch these marriage reception thing with amusement. Rather save the money for the divorce, there is a 60% chance of that happening. However, I wish you well and after a few decades of being married myself, I can say that it is very rewarding if you and your partner can get the recipe to work.

Good luck Inge. We are going to miss you. There is a difference between being a cheapskate and being thrifty. Thrift is better than wealth. Take care.

Best of luck – one of the best things I’ve ever done! You will be missed.

I’ve enjoyed your cheapskate articles Inge. Congratulations and all the best for the future.

We’ll miss you, Ingé. Your excellent grasp of a wide variety of issues is extremely rare.
The saying goes that marriage is a question of give and take. What you don’t give, she takes 🙂
But with the right spouse (38 years this year) it is give and receive.
From one pastoriekind to another: May God bless and keep you and your spouse-to-be every day for the rest of your lives.

I will really miss your articles.

I hope your marriage will be Blessed and that you two will do all things to ensure that your relationship prosper.

Enjoy!

Oh no!< I enjoyed reading your articles here Inge. WIll definitely miss you! All the best for the upcoming nuptials, and your future adventures!

Really enjoyed your Cheap Skate articles!! Best wishes for a long and happy marriage…it should be a long term investment although the “market” will fluctuate over time!!

All the best Ingé. Congratulations on the upcoming wedding. The Moneyweb community will miss your articles. Will you stay on air @RSG Geldsake?

Unfortunately not. Will broadcast my last Geldsake show just after 17:00 this afternoon!

Going offshore?

Best wishes with the wedding, and the marriage. I have two daughters and think I will bribe them with cash to downscale wedding (or eliminate and rather elope.

The wedding industry is a rip-off no matter how you try to sugar coat or romanticize the ‘Big Day’; using the latter, the suppliers hone in on the emotions of the couple trying to squeeze out the last little bit of monetary gain.

It’s simply a case of ‘nothing for nothing’; don’t expect any favours or freebies – you want even the simplest of additions (like a table for the wedding cake, which incidentally they have in storage behind the hall), you are going to pay.

And should you decline the supplier ‘offers’ and quotations (how does R450 for a single Protea sound??) you are simply dealt with in a less than stellar fashion and made out to be a ‘genuine cheapskate’.

Sure, these suppliers need to make money, but unfortunately the model is flawed and only sustainable for as long as women dream of a perfect wedding and future husbands and fathers simply comply out of fear of upsetting the bride. (probably sexist of me to say this but purely based on my personal experience :))

Anyone contemplating a wedding should rather book the venue at their favourite restaurant and ‘keep it real’. People only want a good party; the flowers and bridesmaid dresses will be soon forgotten but the memory of a fun evening will stay. Whatever you save on the initial budget, put it towards your offspring’s study fund or as deposit towards your new home.

Sad to hear you’ll be leaving MW. You’ve been a credit to this site IMHO, and WILL be missed.

Blessings for your future endeavours!

Yes, and remain “money wise” 😉

Be happy! Love and live long!
But don’t give up writing. It’s in your blood girl..and you’re good!
Gonna miss your articles. Sigh.

Hey Inge
Thanks for all the writings and comments over time – thoroughly enjoyed and often very useful – let us all know what blog you are on in your new life
Good luck with the wedding and keep smiling

All the very best and lots of fun and happiness. I will miss your articles but I’m sure you will find a niche somewhere.

Advice, looking back 30 odd years after my wedding I would say enjoy the day. Do not let it become too correct, formal and scheduled (within reason). Try not let it become such a focus that you forget about the part, fun and honeymoon. Relax. But I’m sure you have it all in hand.

Good bye Inge, and all the best for the wedding and all the new adventures ahead. I loved your Cheapskate columns.

Am I the only one wondering if I’d be able to spot your future husband in a flirty response to one of your previous columns :-)?

Lovely article – I’m still laughing and having just gone through my sons wedding experience I wish he could have read this last year!
Best wishes for a lovely wedding and a happy life.

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