Should I invest for my child’s marriage?

Ever since I revealed that I invest for my son’s marriage in the year-end personal financial audit, several friends, and readers have chided me about this:

  • ‘Why do you want to invest for your kids marriage?’
  • ‘Our kids should fund their own marriage’
  • ‘Weddings should be simple affairs devoid of all lavishness’

Journalist Sunderajan Padmanabhan narrated over email this delightful anecdote of a no-frills wedding:

~~~~~~~

You know whenever i hear people talking about their children's marriage, I get reminded about one friend's marriage, which i consider as the best I have ever attended.

Maybe I can recall it for you.

I am sure you have heard of journalist-cum-theatre-activist Gnani Shankaran (this is his website in Tamil). I am talking about his wedding.

He and his wife, Padma, again a theatre activist, had their wedding at the Egmore Museum theatre about 30 years ago.

They had organised a play and invited all their friends. the wedding happened during the interval. a common friend announced that the two are  to get married. A nadaswaram recital played in the background on a tape  recorder. the groom and the bride exchanged garlands. An encore went up, that's all. The marriage was over.

We were all asked to move out for refreshment: a packet of mixture, one ladoo and a cup of hot coffee. after about 10 minutes the bell rang again.

We got back into the auditorium. the play resumed and went on for half an hour or so more.

At the end, we all gathered, congratulated the couple again before returning home. they also took a bus to go back home: no decorated car. No  ladies' sangeet. no janwasam, no mehendi, no special bridal wear.

Sunder.

~~~~~~~

Fairytale frugality!  I re-read this story several times. Wish I had married that way!

Delightful as this anecdote maybe, I  disagree with the notion that one should not invest for a child’s marriage (NB. I have temporarily paused investments due to unexpected recurring expenses)

Why?

  • The future is unknown and uncertain! My boy could meet his soul mate in school and would like to marry her then! I the need the money even if I offer him a loan for the wedding!
  • There could be a shotgun wedding scenario!
20130807065023!Shotgun_Wedding
Photo by Ms. Phoenix. Source: Wikipedia

If you are thinking, ‘there he goes again! Pattu the most pessimistic blogger on www’, stop right there!

All I need you to do is to agree with me that the future is unknown and uncertain!

We are clueless about how our children will grow and what they will grow up to be. Let us never ever forget that!

  • My sons wedding is an expense for me. Perhaps I will fund 100%, perhaps I will fund 1% of total expenses. It is an expense, period.
  • It is a 100% certain expense that will occur in the future (My son could of course choose to avoid wedlock for a variety of reasons!)
  • A 100% certain future expense, will affected by inflation (at least 10%)
  • Therefore, frugal as I would like to be, I will need to account for inflated frugality (perhaps my wife notions of frugality may evaporate at the sound of marriage!)
  • Therefore, I need to plan and invest with a schedule.
  • If I do not, I may end up touching my retirement corpus to fund his wedding – a bad thing to do even if it is 1% of total wedding expenses.
  • Therefore in view of the above, I invest my for my son’s marriage.
  • No, allow me to correct that. I am investing to protect my retirement nest egg. Shouldn't you?

 Prepare for the worst, pray for the best – A line from the movie, Prisoners

 What do you think? Do you agree?

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49 thoughts on “Should I invest for my child’s marriage?

  1. SWAPNIL D. KENDHE

    I did not understand "I invest for my son’s marriage in the year-end personal financial audit"

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Dear Swapnil, If you read my year end audit post (link above) you will see that I invest each month for all my long term goals. the investment for marriage is only 1% of what I put in for retirement. Still that 1% is crucial.

      Reply
  2. SWAPNIL D. KENDHE

    I did not understand "I invest for my son’s marriage in the year-end personal financial audit"

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Dear Swapnil, If you read my year end audit post (link above) you will see that I invest each month for all my long term goals. the investment for marriage is only 1% of what I put in for retirement. Still that 1% is crucial.

      Reply
  3. Ramamurthy

    Lavish weddings have to be totally eliminated.But I feel mere exchange of garland in a temple is not the option.Have the function in a Community hall,invite friends and relatives. Dont invite a mob. A religious function followed by lunch is OK. the whole function should take about 4 Hours.
    This may cost about 2 to 3 Lacs to day.Preferably share the expense with the bride,s family.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Totally agree with you, Sir. Unfortunately even Rs. 1 Lakhs @ inflation of 9% will be 56 Lakhs after 20 years. So I would prefer to put away a small amt for it each month.

      Reply
  4. Ramamurthy

    Lavish weddings have to be totally eliminated.But I feel mere exchange of garland in a temple is not the option.Have the function in a Community hall,invite friends and relatives. Dont invite a mob. A religious function followed by lunch is OK. the whole function should take about 4 Hours.
    This may cost about 2 to 3 Lacs to day.Preferably share the expense with the bride,s family.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Totally agree with you, Sir. Unfortunately even Rs. 1 Lakhs @ inflation of 9% will be 56 Lakhs after 20 years. So I would prefer to put away a small amt for it each month.

      Reply
  5. Pradeep

    I do agree with you pattu, it is a good idea, in any case u can spend the saved amount for whatever cause u have in mind. Frugality is the best way forward but not appreciated by all hence would endorse Ramamurthys view.

    Reply
  6. Pradeep

    I do agree with you pattu, it is a good idea, in any case u can spend the saved amount for whatever cause u have in mind. Frugality is the best way forward but not appreciated by all hence would endorse Ramamurthys view.

    Reply
  7. Sunderarajan Padmanabhan

    pattu, many many thanks for quoting my views verbatim in your blog. i am sharing this on my facebook and twitter accounts.

    Reply
  8. Sunderarajan Padmanabhan

    pattu, many many thanks for quoting my views verbatim in your blog. i am sharing this on my facebook and twitter accounts.

    Reply
  9. R Swaminathan

    Marriages have become occasions for families to show off their status, wealth and their gold jewellery. In south indian families as I see in the weddings of my relatives, if you are the bride's parent, then most of the time you have to toe the line and give in to the demands of the jewellery, the selection of the marriage hall ( which nowadays is in lakhs) ,the menu and also other items( clothes, mattresses, utensils, etc.) which are to be given away along with the bride. So it does makes sense to save for this expense. If your child chooses to go in for a GREEN wedding, then the accumulated corpus could be utilised to gift the newly married couple so that they have some funds to fall back upon in case of any emergency.

    Reply
  10. R Swaminathan

    Marriages have become occasions for families to show off their status, wealth and their gold jewellery. In south indian families as I see in the weddings of my relatives, if you are the bride's parent, then most of the time you have to toe the line and give in to the demands of the jewellery, the selection of the marriage hall ( which nowadays is in lakhs) ,the menu and also other items( clothes, mattresses, utensils, etc.) which are to be given away along with the bride. So it does makes sense to save for this expense. If your child chooses to go in for a GREEN wedding, then the accumulated corpus could be utilised to gift the newly married couple so that they have some funds to fall back upon in case of any emergency.

    Reply
  11. Sunderarajan Padmanabhan

    friends, i have an earnest appeal to all the regular visitors to this blog: please please take a vow that u will take all efforts to put a stop to the practice of expensive weddings.

    Reply
  12. Sunderarajan Padmanabhan

    friends, i have an earnest appeal to all the regular visitors to this blog: please please take a vow that u will take all efforts to put a stop to the practice of expensive weddings.

    Reply
  13. Debashish

    I agree that you should invest for your child's marriage.
    From my experience my marriage ( a few years back) was more of wedding of my Father's son ( i.e. he has to make a wedding to satisfaction of all the relatives, which included taking hundred relatives in barat across the state ) . Given I was only 2-3 years in to my job I could not ( and would not like to ) bear the full expense of the my marrige . I contributed to best of my capacity and was almost penny less a month in to the marriage when setting my household.

    I would have happly settled for a Court/temple marriage and save the money to set up my house.

    Reply
  14. Debashish

    I agree that you should invest for your child's marriage.
    From my experience my marriage ( a few years back) was more of wedding of my Father's son ( i.e. he has to make a wedding to satisfaction of all the relatives, which included taking hundred relatives in barat across the state ) . Given I was only 2-3 years in to my job I could not ( and would not like to ) bear the full expense of the my marrige . I contributed to best of my capacity and was almost penny less a month in to the marriage when setting my household.

    I would have happly settled for a Court/temple marriage and save the money to set up my house.

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Yes Rajiv. Precisely why i think it is best to invest a little bit toward marriage expenses so that the retirement corpus is not touched.

      Reply
    1. pattu

      Yes Rajiv. Precisely why i think it is best to invest a little bit toward marriage expenses so that the retirement corpus is not touched.

      Reply
  15. IamNoSpecial

    Yesterday, had met some professional stock investor..... after some discussion, he told us that he was teaching his 10 year old son about stock picking and investing, why?....... he himself revealed the answer... the answer was simple: by the time he becomes 18, he would earn money by himself and would not require his dad's money.... so in a way i am insuring my own future wealth.....

    Viren Phansalkar

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Smart indeed. However, that does not guarantee that the father will not spend during the sons marriage.

      Reply
  16. IamNoSpecial

    Yesterday, had met some professional stock investor..... after some discussion, he told us that he was teaching his 10 year old son about stock picking and investing, why?....... he himself revealed the answer... the answer was simple: by the time he becomes 18, he would earn money by himself and would not require his dad's money.... so in a way i am insuring my own future wealth.....

    Viren Phansalkar

    Reply
    1. pattu

      Smart indeed. However, that does not guarantee that the father will not spend during the sons marriage.

      Reply
  17. prakash

    Pattu!
    I have been thinking of a blog on the topic and wanted to title it with"Nan Marriage".In stead spending on decorations and parties, my suggestion is to spend it for "margin money for a home loan","tickets for honey moon" and "Making a Bank FD" etc.What do you think of it?

    Reply
  18. Jayadeep Purushothaman

    A linear system will eat up all the resources for sure - somewhere we need to break these "rituals" to get away from this. Learn a bit from Westerners on this - they break their back to keep their consumerist lifestyle going, but most wouldn't finance their children's education or marriage.

    If you extend your argument, you need to support your grandchildren's education also because your son may not have a job or may be studying ? 🙂

    There sure is uncertainty and inflation, but we need to draw a line somewhere or devise strategies to go a bit unorthodox.

    Reply
  19. Shweta

    I hate to think that I ll have to spend a big part of my savings for my wedding. I find no support in real life . the virtual support one gets here is no doubt comforting but the real life scenario is very different !

    Reply

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