When we got married, we received a ton of gifts from family members of all kinds, ranging from towels to a weird statue of a hobbit to a knife set to towels to a handmade quilt to towels. Needless to say, we still have plenty of towels.
Today, though, there are only a few that really stand out from the pack, gifts that really stuck with us and proved to be really useful in our life. In every case, these gifts were ones that helped us to be more frugal and do more things for ourselves. They’ve saved us money, saved us time, and helped us to build a richer relationship.
With that in mind, a reader sent me the following email this weekend:
What sort of possessions would give newlyweds a helping hand along their road to financial independence? An good example is a crock pot – affordable, useful and will save us many $$$ in the long run.
So, without further ado, here is The Simple Dollar’s Frugal Wedding Registry. All of these gifts should help a couple get on or stay on a solid financial path leading toward a very bright future together, both financial and otherwise.
For any couple: Smart Couples Finish Rich
Virtually all couples, when they are married, are not yet on the same financial page. That’s what this book is about – helping couples sit down and define their financial relationship, figure out if their financial goals match and ways to encourage the goals to match, and also plan for a lifetime of financial success together. They might forget about this gift at first in all of the hubbub around their wedding, but give it a year or two, and they’ll likely turn to this book when they discover that their financial life is leaving the honeymoon stage. At that point, this book is an incredibly valuable gift.
For the outdoorsy couple: A national or state park pass
If they enjoy backpacking, hiking, or camping, free access to state and national parks will provide them with many, many hours of wonderful experiences for free. Some of our nations’ most beautiful areas are in state and national parks, and I can’t tell you how many fond memories I have from hiking and walking in national parks with my wife in the early years of our marriage. We used a park pass at multiple parks across the northern tier of states and some of our best memories of our marriage come from those state and national parks.
For the time-constrained couple: A high quality crock pot, like the KitchenAid KSC700SS
Couples made up of two professionals often barely have time to see each other in the evening, let alone prepare a meal. So they burn money on takeout instead. With a crock pot, though, they can easily prepare their own meals in a few minutes before work, and have a delicious homecooked meal waiting for them when they arrive home. You can also print out my earlier posts on slow cookers, The Art of the Slow Cooker and By Request: Five Essential Crock Pot Recipes for inclusion with the gift, to give them some free materials to start off with.
For the couple without anything saved: A mutual fund
Buy them an appropriate amount of a mutual fund somewhere and tell them to hold onto it until they need it for a major purchase, like a home. This is a great gift to get a large group of relatives involved in. Just a few months ago, I saw a couple receive only one “major” gift: a $5,000 mutual fund that was to help them make a down payment when they went to buy a house in a few years.
For the do-it-yourself couple: A sewing machine
Some of you might immediately write this off as archaic, but an individual who thrives on making stuff for him/herself can get a ton of value out of a quality sewing machine. My wife has one and has made everything from curtains to pajamas to quilts with it – it’s one of the best gifts we’ve ever received.
For the kitchen-averse couple: How To Cook Everything
Forget Betty Crocker or even Joy of Cooking (even given my attachment to the latter), this is the single best book I’ve ever seen for beginning cooks. This book is loaded with details on preparation, explaining the finer points of almost every common culinary practice. The recipes (and there are a bunch of them) focus on a merger of simplicity and flavor in an effort to show beginning cooks that it is indeed easy to create something delicious in the kitchen. If you know someone who doesn’t cook for themselves much but has any potential at all, this is the book to give them.
For the food-loving couple: A high quality knife set
During our first few years together, we made do with a cheap knife set that made most tasks very difficult. When we upgraded to a high quailty knife set, it made all the difference in terms of our food preparation. Suddenly, it didn’t take an hour to chop vegetables, and with some practice on how to actually use a real knife, I was chopping carrots in fifteen seconds where before it would take eight minutes or so. This increase in speed got us to cook at home much more, and the knife set has paid for itself.
For the movie-addicted couple: A prepaid subscription to Netflix
If the couple loves watching movies together and has built up a large DVD library, that DVD library is probably sucking away a lot of their money each month. Get them a gift subscription to Netflix so that they’re not burning so much cash buying movies – and can instead find better uses for the money. My wife and I received a year-long subscription to the service and it massively cut down on our DVD buying habits.
For the thoughtful couple: Your Money or Your Life
This book, more than any other, presents a thought-provoking view of money’s role in a person’s life. It makes some very powerful connections between reducing spending and quality of life and provides a ton of interesting activities that can authentically change a person’s perspective about money in their life. If the couple is thoughtful and loves discussing things, get them a copy (or a pair of copies) of this book – they’ll find plenty to discuss in it, and may find themselves making better and more frugal financial choices as a result.
If all else fails…: Cash
For many, this seems unimaginative, but actually think about the bride and groom for a minute. They’ve just gone through a wedding that had great expense and may have put them in debt, and they’re about to embark on a married life that will probably involve even more debt. Help them out now with some cash, and maybe they won’t fall as deep into debt. I know that many of our friends and family gave us cash for our wedding several years ago with explicit instructions to use it to “get started,” so we used it to pay off some wedding, honeymoon, and credit card debt. Because of that, we had our wonderful wedding memories without the bad feelings of all of the debt we had to pay off.