What do I mean? Cost is the price of an item…i.e. a wedding dress at a shop with a $599 price tag costs $599. Total cost, or acquisition cost, is what it truly costs to buy and use that item. In the case of our $599 wedding dress the total cost might be $599 for the dress, $29.95 for the 5% sales tax, $79.95 for the alterations, $25 in gas for 3 trips to Green Bay (because you couldn’t find it in Appleton), $129.95 for a preservation kit because you want to keep it forever, $39.95 for the push up bra to make what God gave you look even more awesome, and so on…you get the picture. That $599 dress really ends up costing you at least $903.80. Your budget for a dress was $600 so you think at $599 you did great, but in reality your were 33% over budget.
Another example are ladies who want to make their own centerpieces. Let’s say the cost to rent a centerpiece is $24.95. Jane the bride says I can make it for less than that. She drives to Hobby Lobby to buy the flowers, but the vases seem too expensive there so she drives to Walmart to buy the vases. The first Walmart only has 6 bases so she needs to drive to two other Walmart stores to buy the other 10 she needs. She then drives to the dollar store (because everyone knows they are the cheapest) to buy ribbon, baubles, glitter, etc. Total time, 3 hours (time is money), travel and gas…let’s say $25.00 to be fair. Jane totals up her materials and it runs about $18.00 per centerpiece. So, $18 per centerpiece + $1.56 in gas/time = $19.56/centerpiece. At that point, if elves came in the middle of the night to put them together, Jane just saved $5.39/centerpiece or $86.24 total for 16. Sounds like a good decision. Here is what I want you to think about the $86.24…is that worth the time to put them together, is that worth the time to not have them turn out as good as the rentals, is that worth the time to have to haul them all home after the wedding and do something with them?
My point…really know what the total cost of everything is and budget for that. Then you can make intelligent decisions on what you want to do yourself and what you want professionals to do for you. My rule of thumb, unless you are saving at least 20% by doing it yourself, driving further to get something, buying something online vs in the store, etc, don’t do it.