how much to spend on engagement ring

How Much Should You REALLY Spend on an Engagement Ring?

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If you’re thinking about getting engaged you’re probably wondering how much to spend on engagement ring, right?

The truth is the diamond industry will tell you that any “reasonable” or decent person will spend at least two-to-three months’ worth of salary on the ring.

And there is this preconceived notion that the more you spend on the ring, the more you love your girl. Or the more deserving she is of a big rock. Or, the more financial stable you are.

In other words, a big rock shows you are wealthy. It shows you are fully in love with your girl and that she is the BEST girl on earth. This is the message that society has pawned off on us.

And the same message follows in many ways when it comes to the cost of the wedding.

However, there is a lot more to think about when it comes to marriage besides the wedding and the ring.

If you’re planning on getting engaged I encourage you to read this post before doing so. The information here could save your pocketbook and your impending marriage.

How Should I Decide How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring

Are you listening to industry-imputed standards when it comes to buying the ring? If so, you can plan on spending 2 to 3 months’ worth of your salary on said ring. However, that number was created by the diamond industry.

Their goal with that advertising tactic? Get more business and make more money.

I’m assuming your goal in getting engaged isn’t to line the pockets of the jewelry industry. If it is, go ahead and spend 3 months’ worth of your salary on a ring. Now, that’s not a bad thing. It’s just that you should plan a bit before you spend. If your goal is to have a long and prosperous marriage, read on.

There are several factors you should consider when deciding how much to spend on the ring. It’s not bad to spend a lot on a ring. It’s just that you should consider certain factors before doing so. Here they are, in no particular order.

Factor #1: Determine What Your Girl Wants

Like it or not, your wife-to-be’s opinion matters when it comes to the ring. After all, she’s the one who has to wear it every day. You want her to be proud of the ring sitting on her finger, right?

Here’s the deal – not gonna lie. Most girls do care at least a little bit about the size of the rock. Not all, but most. After all, her friends and family members are gonna want to see that baby. And your girl is gonna want to show it off.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to get the biggest rock your credit limit will allow. There are other ways you can show your love for her. How you treat her on a day-to-day basis matters immensely, for example.

But as far as the ring goes, start listening for hints from her. Leave a jewelry ad laying on your coffee table. Watch and see what grabs her attention.

If the engagement is planned and not a surprise, do some window shopping together. See what types of rings she gravitates toward. Then, keep them in mind.

Finding out what your girl wants is important. But so is the next step: determining what you can afford to spend.

Factor #2: Figure Out What You Can Afford

Figuring out what you can afford to spend on an engagement ring is vital. Yes, you may have twenty grand in credit card limits open and waiting. Or, the jewelry store might happily loan you $30k for a ring.

That doesn’t mean you should spend it. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help determine what you can afford to spend.

What is My Current Income?

What is your current take-home monthly pay? Not gross – take-home. You’ll want to know exactly how much cash you have coming in each month. That is the important determining factor.

This is a simple question to find the answer to. Just look at your last month’s worth of paychecks. If you get paid twice a month and each check is $1,000, then your monthly take-home pay is $2,000.

Your monthly income is an important factor in the ring cost decision. After you get married you and your wife will be a family. And part of your job as a member of said family is to make smart decisions along with your wife. Financial and otherwise.

Now let’s move onto factor #3.

Factor #3: Assess Your Overall Financial Situation(s)

This is an important step. Both you and your wife-to-be have a financial picture. You’ve got money in a checking or savings account (hopefully both).

You may have consumer debt, student loan debt, car debt or other debt. I’d encourage you to sit down and make a list of what you have in cash including investments. Don’t forget retirement savings.

Now make a list of any debts you owe.

Next, have your girl do the same – or do this together with her. You don’t have to tell her you’re planning on popping the question. If the engagement is a surprise, just make up a believable story about how you read a great article on Money Peach about 4 people who became millionaires.

Or, actually read the article. It will inspire you!!  Then tell your girl you want to make a plan for your own journey to millionaire status. And ask her if she wants to join you.

The reason you’ll want to try and get an idea of your girl’s financial situation too is simple. Once you’re married, her debt becomes your debt. You’ll need to know what you’re facing so you can make a plan to pay off the debt.

And, your individual debt amounts should influence how much you spend on the ring. If you’re both drowning in debt, you’ll want to seriously consider spending less. Here’s why.

Why Your Financial Situation Matters

This recent Dave Ramsey Solutions article says that money issues are the number two leading cause of divorce. Infidelity is number one.

In fact, money is the number one issue couples fight about. If you want to give your marriage a strong foundation to build on, start with solid financial ground.

Sit down and analyze your financial situation and your girlfriend’s financial situation. If you’re facing debt or a lack of savings, make a plan for improvement.

Follow the link above about how to pay off debt and start moving toward debt freedom. Automate a savings deposit amount each paycheck. Your employer’s human resources department should be able to help you do this.

The point is that establishing a great financial foundation for your marriage is important. And that starts with carefully considering engagement and wedding costs.

Once you know what your financial situations are you can move forward with the ring purchase.

Okay, so you have some tips for finding what your girl wants. And you’ve got a clear picture of both your financial situations. You should have some idea of what you want to spend on the ring. Now it’s time to shop.

Luckily, I’ve got some ideas for you for saving money on said ring. Here are some tips.

Ways to Save Money When You Buy Your Engagement Ring

Even if you’ve agreed that you want traditional rings, there are ways to save money when you buy. Check out these options for saving money on engagement rings.

Buy Your Engagement Ring Online

Buying an engagement ring in a store can be very emotional. You and your girl, trying on ring after ring. A smooth-talking salesperson buttering you up.

Images of a grand wedding playing in your head as your girl models different rocks. It can all be very enticing. And it can make you want to spent more.

Not to mention the fact that brick and mortar jewelry stores have more operating costs. This typically means that their prices will be higher.

Conversely, online diamond sellers don’t have as high of operating expenses. Therefore they can often sell rings for less.

Plus, shopping online is much less emotional that shopping for rings in person. You can keep your head on straight and not get caught up in the whimsy of it all.

Two popular online ring retailers are James Allen and Blue Nile. Both sites have pre-made rings and allow you to custom design a ring too.

At the very least, consider visiting an online retailer before you head into a store. Compare prices and write down cost comparisons before you buy.

Bonus: both online and in-store diamond retailers have sales – take advantage of one if you can.

Know the Four C’s of Diamonds Before You Buy

Before you buy a diamond you may want to have an idea of what to look for. And what to watch out for. As with any industry, not all diamond sellers are honest.

People have gotten taken as they buy engagement rings. Don’t let that be you. Let’s talk a little bit about diamond characteristics.

Diamonds are classified by the four C’s: cut, clarity, color and carat. Here’s what you need to know about each.

The Cut

The cut of a diamond refers to its shape and to how effectively it reflects light. A diamond that’s cut well will appear brilliant and “sparkly”.

A poorly cut diamond will appear dark and “lifeless”. A well-cut diamond can also appear larger than its poorly-cut counterpart of the same size.

The Clarity

Diamond clarity grades range from FL to I3. Here are some definitions that will help you as you shop.

  • FL is considered a flawless diamond. It has no visible inclusions blemishes to a skilled grader (inspector) using a 10x magnification tool. P.S. only 1 in 5,000 diamonds are considered flawless
  • IF means internally flawless. They appear identical to a FL diamond unless viewed under 10x magnification (by an expert grader) These diamonds are also very rare
  • VVS1-VVS2 means the diamond has very, very slight inclusions. They are clearly visible to a grader with 10x magnification but aren’t visible to the naked eye
  • VS1-VS2 diamonds have “very” slight inclusions as opposed to “very, very” slight inclusions. Inclusions are generally not detectable to the naked eye
  • SI1-SI2 diamonds have inclusions that are slightly detectable to the naked eye
  • I1-I3 diamonds have inclusions that are usually visible to the naked eye

Be sure you know the clarity factor of the diamond you choose. The more flawless the diamond is, the higher the price of the ring will be.

The Color

The color of a diamond refers to color of the diamond. Diamonds can range in color from clear to a pale yellow. The more “colorless” a diamond is, the higher the quality is considered.

A diamond’s color is reflected by its grade. Here are some color grade descriptions you can use as you shop.

  • D through F diamonds are considered colorless. These are your most expensive diamonds and have no yellow in them.
  • G through J diamonds have a faint yellow color in them. They are called “near colorless”.
  • K though M diamonds are stones where the color begins to be detectable to the naked eye
  • N through R diamonds have an easily seen yellow or brown tint
  • S through Z diamonds generally have too much color to be considered a white diamond

Generally, shoppers looking to save money on a ring will select a color in the G through J arena. Note that the color of the gold in your ring will matter when selecting a color grade.

If you choose a yellow gold setting instead of a white gold setting, it will generally make the diamond appear more yellow.

The Carat Weight

The carat weight refers to the weight of a diamond. The more carats a diamond has, the more expensive it will be – all other factors considered.

For example, a diamond with N through R color that weighs a carat might cost less than a D color diamond that weighs half a carat.

It’s important to take all four of the “C”s into account when you shop. You might decide you’d rather have a small flawless diamond than a larger one with visible flaws.

Only you and your beloved can make that decision, however. I’d encourage you to think about that before you make a purchase decision.

Consider Diamond Alternatives

If your girl is in agreement, you could consider some less expensive diamond alternatives. Here are some options.

Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia is a manufactured stone that’s made to look like a diamond. CZ is made to look like a flawless diamond. This “perfect” stone can be a giveaway to someone who knows diamonds.

But most people probably won’t ever know unless you tell them. Just make sure your girl knows and agrees if you go this route. You don’t want her to inadvertently find out.

The cost savings on CZ rings are extensive. Whereas a 1-carat real diamond can cost $1500 or more, a 1-carat CZ diamond can go for $20.

Of course, you could have the CZ stone set in a real gold ring for added value. Again, be sure your girl knows you’re going the CZ route before buying. Honesty is paramount in a marriage.

Buy A Different Type of Gemstone

There are other gemstones that typically cost less than diamonds. You could get an engagement ring that has a different gemstone in it.

Maybe you could get a stone that reflects your girl’s birthday month. Here are a list of months and coordinating gemstones.

  • January – Garnet
  • February – Amethyst
  • March – Aquamarine
  • April – Diamond
  • May – Emerald
  • June – Pearl
  • July – Ruby
  • August – Peridot
  • September – Sapphire
  • October – Tourmaline
  • November – Citrine
  • December – Tanzanite

I have a friend that has an Amethyst as the main stone in her wedding ring. My stepmom has a Tanzanite stone in her ring.

Bonus: if you’re using a different gemstone in your ring you can get a bigger rock for less.

Buy a Ring that Has Sentimental Value

Sentimental value is important when it comes to engagement ring purchase. I know people who have spent very little (comparatively) on their rings and love them.

Once couple I know found some adorable rings at a flea market. They’re not expensive, but the couple loves the unique design. And they know they’ll never see another couple with the same set.

Another couple I know has tattooed wedding rings on their left hands. They created the tattoo design themselves. Again, sentimental and inexpensive.

Maybe you have a family ring – one that your grandma or mom wore – that you want to give her.

Conversely, maybe your girl is a Trekkie and would love a Star Trek ring.

Or maybe not. You both might be into Star Trek now. But 30 years from now she might wish she had a more traditional ring.

The point is to consider the sentimental factor. Which ring will best symbolize your love for each other?  Which will be a daily reminder of your love and friendship?

Consider the sentimental factor as you go ring shopping, and not just the size of the rock.

As you can see, there are many ways you can spend less on an engagement ring. You might decide in the end that you want a traditional diamond.

And that’s okay. It’s just nice to know there are options.

How to Pay for Your Engagement Ring

Now that you know a bit about engagement rings, it’s time to pony up the cash. If you don’t already have it set aside, here are some tips for saving the money.

Get Some Side Hustle Income

A side hustle is an income earning activity that is in additional to your traditional job. A side hustle can be anything from delivering pizza to starting a lawn care business.

Here’s a list of 84 side hustle ideas to get you started on earning cash for that ring.

In a big hurry? Check out this post on 46 Ways to Get Money Quickly.

Automate Your Savings

Another way to save up some cash to pay for the ring is to automate your savings. Take the amount of money you want to spend on the ring. Divide it by the number of months you want to have the ring in.

Then, have your bank take that dollar amount from your checking account and put into your saving account. Have them automate the transfer every month until you’ve saved enough.

Your employer might be able to divvy up your paycheck and put some in savings each payday too.

Sell Your Stuff

Do you have items lying around the house that you no longer use? Maybe you have a gaming system or recreational vehicle you can sell.

Or maybe you can sell that expensive car with the big payment. Buy a quality used car instead. Take the cash you’ve saved and use that to buy your girl’s engagement ring.

Similarly, you might have some non-retirement investment funds you could sell to get the cash. Try to come up with ideas for paying cash for the ring as opposed to financing it.

It’ll make that big moment all the sweeter.

Oh, and as a bonus, here’s the Money Peach post on 7 Ways to Save Money on Your Wedding.

Now that you’re engaged, you’ll have a wedding to plan!

Summary

At the end of the day, only you can decide how much you want to spend on the ring. An engagement ring is one of the most important purchases you can make.

I’d encourage you to take all of these factors into consideration as you shop. Getting married is one of life’s few very important milestones.

Choose your ring accordingly. Determine what matters most as you choose a ring to give to your beloved. And think long-term about the financial implications of your purchase.

An expensive ring is perfectly fine – as long as it doesn’t put you in dire financial straits. Wishing you the best of luck as you begin your new life as a married couple!

What are your thoughts regarding how much to spend on engagement rings? Let us know by leaving a comment.

 


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