By: Andrew Rosen, CFP®, CEP®

With the holiday season in the air, I’m brought back to one of my favorite holiday novels A Christmas Carol by none other than Charles Dickens. I’ve always loved to think about things from long ago juxtaposed to where we are today and what the future holds.

This novel was forefront in my mind as I was meeting with one of my friends/clients the other day. They are retired now, and we chatted about what their adult children pay for their milestones, versus the cost when my client went through these same events. We also prognosticated as to what this means for my children. Let’s just say the thought was frightening!

Let’s take a look at College and Weddings through this lens, as I, Andrew Rosen, play the Ghost of Inflation Past, Present, and Future.

(You might want to sit down for this one.)


If you are in your late 50s, or early 60s, you remember the “good old days” of college. Like John Belushi, you likely started food fights in the cafeteria while wearing your bell bottom jeans. (Ok, not all of you were troublemakers, but I’m sure some of you were.) Can you believe that movie came out over 40 years ago? My how times have changed.

a. Ghost of College Past– If you went to a private university back then, you paid approximately $5,000/yr, or $20,000 in total, for a four year degree. Not too shabby, right?

b. Ghost of College Present– Today if you’re looking to go to that same type of school, you’d be looking at a whopping $75,000/yr. That comes out to an approximately $300,000 of total college tuition. That’s an inflation rate on college of 7% per year.

c. Ghost of College Future– If college inflation continues at that rate, what will it mean for my two year old son? In 16 years when he’s smashing guitars in frat houses, it will cost ($75,000/yr tuition growing at 7% rate of return) roughly $221,000/yr.  (I just fainted.) That’s correct–almost $900,000 for a full college tuition! (I don’t think that’s sustainable, but that is a topic for a future blog). That’s the math folks.


If you’re like me, after reading that my mind went to paying for a wedding. There are a lot of traditionalist out there, such as myself, that still would ideally like to pay for their daughter’s wedding. I have two amazing daughters and I already know they don’t have inexpensive tastes. Let’s take a trip down the weddings past, present, and future path.

a. Ghost of Wedding Past– Speaking with my friend, I learned they got married in the early 80s and had a beautiful wedding. (I’m picturing permed hair and member only jackets, of course). All in all, their wedding cost around $4,000.

b. Ghost of Wedding Present- Today there are many ways to do a wedding; they range from inexpensive to over-the-top. Knowing the all in costs, a wedding can run $50,000- $80,000 (or even more) for a top notch affair. Let’s just look at the low end however. So, a $50,000 wedding, as compared to my friend’s $4,000 on in the 80s, has an inflationary cost of 6.5%.

c. Ghost of Wedding Future– I’m scared. As I do the math on this one, I keep in mind I have two wonderful daughters who know I am powerless when it comes to them. So, they are seven and five today, and I’m going to assume they each get married in around 20 years. (Sorry, I just fainted again.) I pride myself on throwing a good party, so I’ll assume I’ll need to sell a kidney or something to pay for a present value $50,000 wedding for them. In just doing the simple math, that means I’ll need approximately $175,000 per daughter for a nice wedding. Therefore, if you see me missing some limbs at my daughter’s weddings, you’ll know exactly why.

Happy Holidays!

There you go; additional reason to load up on eggnog this season!

It’s crazy to think about things in these terms and actually put dollar signs around it. We all want the best for our children and I’m no different. Needless to say, I’m taking on new clients, so for the love of my organs, don’t be shy!

This should highlight two things for you. One, you better get planning today or else you are Scrooged. And two, it’s critically important to prioritize and put confines on some of those big future needs. Remember, here at Diversified, LLC we help you do just that. Happy holidays folks!

In his role as Financial Planner, Andrew forges lifelong relationships with clients. He coaches them through all stages of life and guides them to better achieve their life goals. Andrew loves helping others by spreading his knowledge on finance, investments, and the pursuit of happiness/fulfillment. He writes nationally recognized, weekly blog posts on these topics and is a regular contributor to Kiplinger. Andrew has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Financial Advisor Magazine, US News & World Report, USA Today, CNBC, along with many other publications.

For more information or to book a consult with Andrew or the other firm partners, Kyle Hill and David Levy, click the link below.

Andrew Rosen, CFP®, CEP®
Kyle Hill, CFP®
David Levy, CFP®

Financial planning and Investment advisory services offered through Diversified, LLC, a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through Securities Service Network, LLC, Member FINRASIPC. Some associates of Diversified, LLC are registered representatives of Securities Service Network, LLC, a registered broker/dealer, 9729 Cogdill Road, Knoxville, TN 37932. (800) 264-5499.