“Will You Marry Me?”
If you’re thinking of asking someone that question. You’ll probably first ask yourself this one: “How much should I spend on the engagement ring?”
It’s one of my favorite money and relationships type questions because it never ceases to get people fired up and passionate about their answers.
The cynics among us say that we shouldn’t have to spend anything on an engagement ring. It’s just an overpriced piece of jewelry and a sign of outdated traditions. If I’m going to drop all that money on a ring, the least my bride-to-be can do is reciprocate the gesture by buying me a Breitling Navitimer, right?!
The romantics will say that we want to buy engagement rings. It’s an everlasting sign of our commitment, dedication, and undying love!
I think you’ll find most guys don’t mind the tradition of buying engagement rings. We just don’t want to have to sell a kidney on the black market to be able to afford it!
So, if you’re thinking of popping the question, what’s the right answer? How much should you spend on an engagement ring?
Tradition states that you should pony up two to three months salary. Because, after all, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend!”
This tradition is outdated for a number of reasons.
First off, most people have so much student loan and credit card debt that they don’t have three months salary saved up for a life emergency, let alone for a piece of jewelry. Secondly, a more expensive ring isn’t going to result in a happier, or longer lasting marriage. So there’s no point in over-spending with the hopes that the ring will mask any issues you may have in your relationship. The three months salary rule is just an old marketing gimmick and shouldn’t have any effect on what you eventually spend on your ring.
Bad Financial Moves
I write this a few months after I went through the engagement ring buying process. Since that time I’ve had numerous conversations about getting engaged, buying rings, and everything that comes along with it. One of the most common things I’ve found people do is that they take out loans for their engagement rings! I couldn’t believe the shock on face after face when I told them I paid for my ring in cash.
Don’t go into debt to buy an engagement ring. Sure it may sound like a great idea to get her that huge flawless diamond, but what happens after the wedding when you combine finances? Then your partner also gets the gift of helping pay off the payments on her own engagement ring! Doesn’t sound like such a grand, romantic gesture now, does it Romeo?
Ways To Save Money On Engagement Rings
So we’ve established that you shouldn’t go into debt just to buy a fancy ring. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get a great ring for whatever amount you plan to spend.
Learn the 4 C’s of diamonds (Cut, Color, Carat and Clarity) in order to make an informed purchase. Regardless of what you may think, size isn’t everything! A diamond with spectacular color and clarity will look superior in every way to a larger carat diamond that lacks quality in those areas.
You can also save upwards of 30-40% by buying an engagement ring online. I bought the ring I gave my fiance at Blue Nile and paid hundreds less than similar quality diamonds I had found in brick & mortar jewelry stores.
So, How Much Should I Spend Then?
The average amount a guy spends on an engagement ring is around $5000. But that number, just like the three months salary rule shouldn’t even be a factor in your decision. As with most financial decisions there is no “one size fits all” answer. For some people $5000 is a drop in the bucket. For others, spending $5000 on a piece of jewelry would be a huge financial commitment.
The only real answer to the question is: Spend what you want to spend, and only what you can afford to spend.
The ring is just the first expense in the line of many you’ll encounter before you actually say “I do.” So plan accordingly, take the time to properly save, and start your future together off on the right foot financially.
Readers: How much did you spend on your engagement ring? Did you follow the three months salary rule? Do you regret not spending more/less in hindsight?