The Moneyist: ‘Marriage sure does make love suck’: My fiancée wants a big, expensive wedding — we had agreed to spend $15K tops

Dear Quentin,

My fiancée and I are currently in the process of planning a wedding and reassessing where we’d like to buy a house. She is about to begin her 10-month unpaid internship in order to complete her master’s degree. 

Throughout all of this, the biggest issue we’re facing is the wedding. We have been together for close to 11 years, and engaged for one year. 

For the longest time, I thought we were on the same page — small wedding, no engagement photos, save the money and get a house. Why go into marriage in debt? 

As we begin to peel the layers of the onion, her thoughts have changed dramatically. She now envisions a wedding with 80-plus guests in a rented venue. She wants engagement photos. She wants to provide either plated or buffet food. 

‘Her parents have offered close to $10,000 to help, but I have insisted that money is better suited for a down payment on a house.’

All of these things are adding up, even though we set a hard budget of $15,000 and don’t even have a quarter of that saved. I have money in stocks and I have savings, but I am strongly refusing to touch either of them for the sake of this joyous occasion. 

Her parents have offered close to $10,000 to help, but I have insisted that money is better suited for a down payment on a house when the time comes. 

I’m being looked at as simply someone who is unwilling to budge, and she’s asked if I truly even want to get married.

How do I go about approaching this? I don’t want to stonewall her at every turn. I want her to have an amazing day we remember for the rest of our lives, but she has yet to propose a plan for how we can save this money. I am beginning to feel as though she’s looking at me to foot the bill almost entirely by myself.

Marriage sure does make love suck. Please tell me if I’m pinching my pennies a little too tightly, or if I’m right on the money.

Frustrated With Financials

Dear Frustrated,

This conversation about your wedding and how much you intend to spend is a proxy for every discussion — big and small — you will have about money throughout your married life. 

Marriage is many things, but it is first and foremost a business contract. You commit to each other legally, emotionally and financially. Your goals become your wife’s goals, and vice versa. Your money anxieties become shared anxieties. Your wife’s attitude toward life events and indebtedness — depending on how you look at it — will also become yours to navigate. 

If you can’t resolve this dilemma amicably, it does not bode well for the many challenges that lie ahead. After all, this is an expense you are entering into willingly. Imagine what might happen if one or both of you were dealt an unexpected blow like the loss of a job, a natural disaster or an illness that racked up unsustainable medical bills.

‘If you resolve this in a way that is respectful of each other and of your own boundaries, it will provide a template for how you tackle such issues in the future.’

But this is also an opportunity. It’s a puzzle that you must figure out together to move forward. If you resolve this in a way that is respectful of each other and of your own boundaries, it will provide a template for how you tackle such issues in the future. This impasse over your wedding could lead to growth for both of you. 

But first you need to examine the underlying reasons for your respective approaches. A third party — perhaps a therapist, financial adviser or, indeed, a financial therapist — could help you unpack the reasons why the wedding size has taken on such importance for your wife, and how you might be able to find a compromise. 

The wedding is a celebration of your commitment and love, but it should not define either of you. I’ve attended many, many weddings that have cost very little money. And you know what? They rank among my favorites. 

Also read: I want to take a life-insurance policy out on my husband. He says ‘hell will freeze over’ before he’s worth more dead than alive

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

By emailing your questions, you agree to having them published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook  FB, +2.03% group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

The Moneyist: My parents want to build a $100K ‘granny flat’ on my property. Their accountant says it should come out of my inheritance

Dear Quentin,

My elderly parents decided to move from the East Coast to California to be closer to family. Because of the high cost of housing, they came up with the idea of building a granny flat, or accessory dwelling unit (ADU), in my yard.

I initially had some reservations about it, but it would make it easier to care for them. In the planning process, my parents’ accountant mentioned that paying for an addition to my property is a gift, and asked about the fairness to my siblings, suggesting that the estimated $100,000 cost be deducted from my share of their estate. 

I understand that legally it’s a gift to me, but I have several issues with deducting it from my inheritance:

1. The ADU is replacing my parents’ housing expenses, so their housing cost should not come out of my inheritance.

2. This unit is unlikely to increase my property value by $100,000.

3. I will have to pay additional property taxes on the unit even after they move out.

4. In order to get any cash from this unit, I’d have to sell my house or rent the unit to someone else, which would significantly impact my privacy.

5. If I had a choice between $100,000 or an ADU in my yard, I would take the cash.

I considered paying for the ADU myself and charging them rent, but from a fairness perspective, I don’t see any difference between my parents paying me back monthly in form of rent versus paying for the ADU up front, and I run the risk of not recouping the cost. 

I should say that my siblings haven’t raised this issue, and none of us need my parents’ money, but I would prefer to make the terms of this clear for everyone so no one feels like this was an unfair arrangement.

Are there any creative solutions that I’m missing?

West Coast Son

Dear West Coast Son,

I have three problems with this arrangement: 1. Your parents’ accountant suggested this money come from your inheritance, rather than from your parents. 2. This proverbial spanner was tossed after you agreed that your parents should build a “granny flat” on your property. 3. You weren’t sold on the idea in the first place, which suggests to me that even without additional complications you could end up regretting this arrangement. 

I also see additional downsides to this ADU. They can be convenient for elderly parents to live in and/or weekend guests to stay in, but renting it out could be problematic. Cities, including Los Angeles and New York, are clamping down on such short-term rentals. And while $100,000 sounds like a nice round figure, it could quickly end up costing more when plumbing and other foreseen and unforeseen structural conditions are taken into account. 

This ADU potentially reduces your parents’ living expenses and frees up more cash for them to enjoy their remaining years and/or have as a nest egg for long-term healthcare. As such, that’s $100,000 that your siblings don’t see in their inheritance.

At the very least, your parents could pay $100,000, and you could agree to take a $50,000 hit on your own inheritance. Without knowing how long your parents would live there, there’s no scientific formula to calculating the dollar value of the trials and tribulations of dealing with this flat.

Given that you already have red flags so early in the process, my only creative solution is to suggest putting a halt to these plans. Treat the ADU as Plan A, outline your concerns and comfort level with both the construction and your parents’ estate planning surrounding the ADU, and ask your parents and their accountant to consider a Plan B.

At the very least, exploring the different options should help your parents see what a win-win this is for them. They may come back to you with a better understanding of both sides. Think carefully before proceeding.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions related to coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com, and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

By emailing your questions, you agree to having them published anonymously on MarketWatch. By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook  FB, +2.03% group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

Economic Report: Existing-home sales slump as momentum slows in the housing market

The numbers: Existing-home sales fell for the fourth consecutive month, as buyers continue to face major hurdles in the road to becoming homeowners.

Existing-home sales fell 0.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.8 million in May, the National Association of Realtors reported. Compared with May 2020, home sales were up nearly nearly 45%, though the year-over-year comparisons are skewed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

Economists polled by MarketWatch had projected existing-home sales to come in at 5.73 million.

“Home sales fell moderately in May and are now approaching pre-pandemic activity,” said Lawrence Yun, the chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. “Lack of inventory continues to be the overwhelming factor holding back home sales, but falling affordability is simply squeezing some first-time buyers out of the market.”

The big picture: Momentum in the housing market appears to be waning — at least relatively speaking. A combination of issues is to blame. The low supply of homes is certainly frustrating to buyers, some of whom may be opting to sit things out in the hopes of more properties coming to the market. And the homes that are for sale often fetch multiple offers, driving the sale price into an unaffordable territory for many — even with historically low interest rates.

Still, many of the factors that prompted the massive wave of home buyers to enter the market throughout the course of the pandemic remain. In particular, millennials are reaching their prime home-buying years — they’re getting married and having kids — and that should continue to stoke interest in homeownership among them.

What they’re saying: “Housing demand continues to cool from the torrid pace through the turn of the year, with the pandemic-motived wave of buying likely crested and sharply higher prices eroding affordability. But, demand should remain warm, with mortgage rates running in a record-low range, millennials pulling forward home purchase plans that were supposed to unfold over the next few years, and increased saving helping more would-be buyers cross their down payment thresholds,” said Michael Gregory, deputy chief economist at BMO Capital Markets.

“We are approaching the critical summer season, when the volume of real estate sales reaches its peak during a typical year. With four consecutive monthly declines in existing home sales, May’s sales activity points to a potential moderation in growth for the remainder of 2021,” said George Ratiu, senior economist at Realtor.com.

: Rethinking your career during the COVID-19 pandemic? You’re not alone

The pandemic has made many Americans reassess what they want out of their jobs, a new report suggests — and some are ready to pursue a completely new direction.

Nearly half of American workers are reconsidering the kind of job they want in the future, and some 53% even say they would retrain for a career in a different industry if they had the chance, according to the latest installment of Prudential’s PRU, -0.35% Pulse of the American Worker Survey, which was conducted by Morning Consult.

In fact, half of the 2,000 adult full-time workers surveyed in late May said the pandemic had given them more control in deciding their career’s direction, and nearly one in four said they planned to search for a new job after the pandemic ended. 

The most common drivers fueling job hunters were compensation (50%), challenges with work-life balance (38%), lack of opportunities for growth (34%), being tired of working on the same things (24%) and lack of learning opportunities (23%).

‘Close to half of workers see more value in soft skills like adaptability and problem solving than they do in subject-matter expertise.’

As the economy recovers from the pandemic recession and businesses reopen, workers have newfound leverage — and government data shows a record number of Americans are quitting their jobs, potentially to pursue better or more lucrative positions or to reevaluate their career trajectory.

Meanwhile, 46% of workers in the Prudential survey said they’ll have to learn new skills within the next year to do their job, and the same share of people said the pandemic had changed what it takes to do their job. Another four in 10 said their long-term financial security will be at risk if they don’t pick up new skills or retrain. 

Going forward, job stability will hinge on the skills workers bring to the table, and “employers will be willing to pay a premium” for workers with the right skills, Prudential vice chair Rob Falzon said in a statement

“At the same time, corporate America will need to step up and invest in their talent by offering skills training and enhancing on-the-job learning opportunities, such as through apprenticeship and rotation programs,” Falzon added.

‘It’s a scary place to be to need a job and not have the skills to get a good job.’

— U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo

Close to half of workers see more value in soft skills like adaptability and problem solving than they do in subject-matter expertise. As for tech skills, workers are most likely to think they’ll need to know basic computer applications, workplace messaging and collaboration platforms, and network and information security in the future.

Apart from themselves, employees are most likely to deem their employers and managers responsible for helping them build necessary skills, the survey found.

To be sure, critics say the U.S. hasn’t historically succeeded at helping economically displaced workers. 

On the federal government side, the country spends only 0.11% of its GDP on programs designed to help workers find jobs, the Aspen Institute noted last year. That’s half of what it invested in 1985, and far less than investments by other wealthy nations like France, Germany and Canada, the nonprofit said.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who in her former capacity as Rhode Island governor last year rolled out a $45 million workforce development program to get residents back to work, has touted President Biden’s American Jobs Plan for what she called “big investments in training our workforce.”

Biden is negotiating with congressional Republicans on the infrastructure package.

“The changes in the American economy, many of which have been massively accelerated by COVID, are very scary for millions of Americans,” Raimondo said during an April press briefing. “It’s a scary place to be to need a job and not have the skills to get a good job.”

She added that “in order to compete, we have to have investments in apprenticeships, community colleges, STEM education, job training.”

“My view is: If you have the guts, in the middle of your career, to go out and get some job training to retrain yourself to get a new job, then we need to be there for you to provide high-quality, demand-driven, affordable — if not free — job training,” she added.

Crypto: Bitcoin breaks below $30,000 for first time since January and ‘it is likely we may see more panic in the market’

Bitcoin, the world’s No. 1 cryptocurrency, fell to its lowest level since January on Tuesday, extending a price drop that has wiped out more than $1.3 trillion in market value for the broader crypto complex since a peak in May.

After falling as low as $29,083 on Tuesday morning, bitcoin BTCUSD, +3.23% was changing hands at nearly $32,000 by Tuesday evening, according to CoinDesk data. The day’s nadir marked its lowest price and its first breach of the psychologically significant $30,000 level since January, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Bitcoin is down more than 50% from its mid-April peak, paring its year-to-date gain to 10.4%.

Ether coin ETHUSD, +0.74% on the Ethereum blockchain, the No. 2 most valued crypto, was deepening a slide below $2,000 and trading at $1,874 on Tuesday evening. Ether is down about 60% from its peak, though it is up 150% on the year to date.

“Bitcoin has violated an important support level and it is likely that we may see more panic in the market as investors will think that it may be the end of Bitcoin,” wrote Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at AvaTrade in a Tuesday note.

“But investors should remember that Bitcoin is a kind of asset which has fought many similar pessimistic views many times. The current sell off could be the opportunity for many investors to load their portfolio with Bitcoin which is selling at a huge discount,” the analyst wrote. 

Meanwhile, dogecoin DOGEUSD, +0.82%, the popular meme asset, was changing hands at around 19 cents, 2 cents above its daily low and down 75% from its early May peak.

The decline for the crypto has been attributed to regulatory action by China, where regulators have imposed restrictions on digital mining and trading of crypto in the People’s Republic.

Crypto’s price correction also comes as traditional markets are trying to recover from a brutal selloff last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.20%, the S&P 500 index SPX, +0.51% and the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +0.79% saw a powerful rebound from last week’s slide on Monday as digital assets sank, leading some analysts to speculate that bitcoin might be experiencing a rotation out of the crypto and into equities.