Dear Moral Money,
My partner and I are in the midst of planning our wedding, while simultaneously looking to purchase our first home together. Juggling the two has become fraught as property prices continue to rise, despite frequent warnings that a crash is coming.
At the moment, getting on the house ladder seems like a pipe dream. Now my fiancée is trying to convince me to spend a big chunk of the deposit on the wedding instead.
Buying a property has always been a bigger priority for me than having a large wedding, however my other half says that seeing as we won’t be able to afford a home for ages we should splash out and “enjoy the moment”.
She has a point, we can’t keep living for tomorrow, but I can’t help but think purchasing a home, which is a lifetime investment, is far more important than one day, no matter how lovely it is. What should I do?
IF, via email
Unfortunately early adulthood often means debating how to spend limited savings on a mixture of first properties, weddings and children.
Due to the steep rise in property prices which – as you say – hasn’t yet shown any real sign of slowing, many couples decide to prioritise saving over a large wedding, or decide not to get married at all.
The average cost of a British wedding last year was £17,500, according to wedding website Hitched, while the average house price was around £300,000 in April this year, says the Office for National Statistics. And it’s becoming harder to find bargains. The traditionally cheaper countryside has seen far bigger increases – up 29pc over the past five years, according to Nationwide – than cities.
Cut out the big day – and you’re halfway to a 10pc deposit. It’s not hard to see why you’re reluctant to go along with your fiancée.
That said, most of us who struggled through the past two years of Covid can sympathise with your betrothed. We all deserve a party and maybe you’ve already pushed back the wedding. A good wedding is for everyone and perhaps you feel like you’d like to do something for your friends and family, rather than spending all your cash on bricks and mortar.
Maybe it doesn’t have to be a choice between house or wedding. A simple solution could be to have a much smaller wedding than you originally planned. Lots of people forced to have 30 guests as a maximum during the pandemic said that they actually preferred the extra intimacy.
When you really strip everything back, you and your financée are the only people who have to be there. Focus on yourselves and perhaps you’ll find the finances fall into place.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section below and by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also put any question to us (and anonymously) by using the email address above.
Last week’s Moral Money: 'Is it wrong to send one child to private school – but not the other?'
Dear Moral Money,
I have two children – a son and a daughter aged nine and 10. Ever since they were little, my wife and I had our hearts set on enrolling them in one of the best schools in our area.
For a long time, covering the annual fees of £16,000 per child felt financially within reach. But the recent stock market turmoil means our investments are down 20pc. So the other night, my wife and I had to have the heartbreaking conversation where we admitted that we just cannot afford to send both of them to private school.
However, we do have enough saved to cover the fees for one of them. In our opinion, our eldest would benefit the most. She has always done well academically, whereas our son is not quite as studious. Our daughter is also extremely musically talented and the music department at this school is second-to-none.
Is it wrong to send one child to private school but not the other? I would be horrified if it made our youngest think we loved him less than his sister. But we always wanted to give our children the best education we could afford.
RB, via email
It seems a shame that one of your children should miss out on the high-quality education you always dreamed of giving them. However, you might not have to give up on that dream just yet. As long as you’re clever with your money, it might be possible both could still be privately educated.
One way to significantly cut fees is to enrol your children in sixth form college, rather than the full seven years of secondary school. This means you’ll only have to cover two years’ worth of fees for both kids – an overall saving of £160,000.
Another option is bursaries. According to the Independent Schools Council, over a third of privately educated pupils receive some form of financial assistance. Perhaps your virtuoso child could be eligible for a scholarship. Some schools also offer “eligible family” schemes where siblings of existing students get a discount – so if your eldest is enrolled, the other could soon follow.
If you cannot get assistance from the school, family could be your next best bet. In lieu of an inheritance, the kids’ grandparents can give up to £3,000 a year tax-free by using up their annual gift allowance.
Alternatively, they could set up a ‘bare trust’ in one of their names. With a bare trust, the trustee can withdraw money at any time as long as it’s for the child, allowing the grandparents to contribute to the school fees.
If you do decide to enrol your eldest in private school but not her brother, there is a risk it could seriously hurt his self-esteem, especially as he gets older. Remember, there are plenty of ways to enrich your child’s education without going the whole hog and paying for private school.
Instead of spending that £16,000 a year on school fees, for example, you could put it towards private tuition, sports clubs or music lessons. That way, both children will benefit from the money and can receive a better education.
Poll results: Should our reader send only one child to private school?
Yes - it's better that at least one receives a private education - 12pc
Yes - but the other child should be compensated with private tuition, for example - 14pc
No - it's not fair on the second child and both should be treated equally - 61pc
No - private school isn't worth it - 13pc