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10 Things You Could Do for the Cost of a Wedding

1. Buy a new Lexus.

1. Buy a new Lexus.

The suggested retail price on a 2015 Lexus CT is $32,200. If you’re happy without a luxury car, you and your spouse can buy brand new 2015 Ford Fiestas for $14,455 each. A new car will last much longer than your wedding ceremony, after all. 

2. Make a down payment on a house.

2. Make a down payment on a house.

The median price of a home in the U.S. sits around $180,100. Depending on where you live, you can find a home for tens of thousands less (or more). If homeowning is in your future, why not get a head start? Skip the expensive nuptials and spend that $31,000 on a down payment.

Lenders typically require you to put 20% down when buying a home. If you’re looking at a $181,000 home, you would need to have a down payment of $36,020 to have 20% equity in the home. All you’d need to do is dip into your savings! In affordable states with cheaper homes, such as Indiana and Tennessee, you can easily avoid PMI and put 20% down with $31,213. 

3. Buy matching 18 karat gold Apple watches.

3. Buy matching 18 karat gold Apple watches.

This won’t be the best financial decision you could make with $31k, but at least the two of you will be extravagantly stylish. 

4. Pay off $31,213 of your debt.

4. Pay off $31,213 of your debt.

Many people are reluctant to enter a marriage with excessive debt—and some don’t want to marry someone with excessive debt. Start your partnership on the right foot. Whether you’re bringing credit card debt or student loans to the table, consider how much debt you would be able to knock out if you opted for a more modest ceremony. 

5. Cruise with your 20 closest friends.

5. Cruise with your 20 closest friends.

Why bother with the stress of planning a wedding? If you book an all-inclusive cruise, you book a sweet week-long adventure with 20 of your closest friends and family members for just under $10,000. No, really. If you're cool with a small wedding, why not just get married on the ship while you're at it?

6. Quit your job...

6. Quit your job...

Are you stuck in a job you hate? Don’t see a future in what you’re doing? In some states, $31,213 may not be a living annual salary, but it’ll be enough for you to survive while you pursue your passion. Be sure to create a monthly budget and stick to it before you quit your dead-end job with a bang. Once you resign, you can find a job you really love. But if that doesn’t work out, you can always…

7. ...and be your own boss.

7. ...and be your own boss.

Depending on your hobby, you might end up spending more than $31,213 on startup costs; if you’re looking at opening a brick-and-mortar business, you’d have to factor in the price of the location. Alternatively, online storefronts (think Etsy) have become lucrative—that is, if you’re willing to treat it like a full-time job. You can spend the 31 grand on building your own studio.

8. Invest in stocks (or bonds, or mutual funds).

8. Invest in stocks (or bonds, or mutual funds).

If you’ve dabbled in investments before, then you won’t be too afraid to take some of that wedding cash and multiply it. Since you’ll have tens of thousands sitting around, you should try investing in micro-cap companies.  “Penny stocks” from these smaller companies will yield more profits than shares from a big company such as Apple; unlike these established companies, micro-caps have much more room to grow. 

9. Go off the grid.

9. Go off the grid.

If you already have a house, you can convert your digs to run on solar power for anywhere between $14,000 and $29,000. Switching to solar power is a much more expensive eco-friendly option than using fluorescent light bulbs, but you’ll shave off around $600 from your yearly electric expenses. Additional benefits include a federal tax credit allowing you to claim 30% of the installation costs, and notoriously sunny states may have state-exclusive tax credits as well. 

10. Get ready for retirement.

10. Get ready for retirement.

It may seem too early to worry about retirement, but the sooner you start saving, the more time you have to let your 401k grow. The 2015 contribution limit for people under 50 is $18,000 per year, so you’ll have to divide the $31,213 between you and your spouse. Your employer will match a percentage of your contribution, and if you use your retirement fund to invest early on, your 401k will grow on its own.