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How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring

How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring

The marriage proposal is probably the pinnacle of romantic planning. Every detail, from rose petals to candlelight kisses, revolves around that one special ring. Typically, the guys are expected to pick out the perfect ring. That’s a lot of pressure to put on men who, often, are not experts on buying women’s jewelry in the first place.

So what’s a guy to do?

Well, it all depends on if this proposal will be expected or not.

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The Surprise Proposal

This is a tough scenario. If you are completely in the dark about what her tastes and expectations are in a ring, finding the right one can be daunting. How much should you spend? That really depends on your budget and your bride.

According to weddingstats.org, the average cost of an engagement ring for 2013 is just under $5,000.

However, people spend on both sides of the spectrum. It really comes down to what you can afford, and what you feel will fit your lady’s personality and taste.

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The Planned Proposal

While I didn’t know when my man would drop to one knee, I knew it was coming. We had been talking about our future lives together from very early in our dating relationship. We actually went ring shopping in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and enjoyed being pampered by the jewelers with cushy seats and sparkling bubbly while I tried on all types of dazzling gemstones. He observed my choices and learned my taste.

Then, he took this information and found the perfect ring on his own. It made my ring much more special than if I had picked it out. It also added an element of surprise, as I didn’t know when he bought the ring or when he would pop the question.

Here are 3 things to consider when looking at the cost of the ring. (My husband did!)

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1. What price range is affordable?

While the last thing you want to do is go too cheap, you also don’t want to start off your marriage saddled with a huge debt. It’s the man, not the ring, that she is marrying. The guy who stays within a discussed budget will be laying the groundwork to trust him in other important financial matters later in the relationship. I was happy my husband was smart about his purchase and didn’t spend outside of our comfort zone. I have heard that two-month’s salary is a good indicator; but like all societal antidotal ideas, not necessarily worth following.

Before going ring shopping, ask yourself:

  • What is the earning potential of both people in the relationship?
  • Can you pay for the ring upfront from savings or do you have to finance it?
  • If you need to finance, what type of financing is available at what interest rate?
  • How fast can the debt be paid off?
  • What other expenses (wedding, house purchase, honeymoon) will you face going forward, and how will additional debt affect them?
  • How will purchasing an expensive luxury item affect pre-existing financial commitments?

While it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of emotion buying an engagement ring, make sure you put serious thought into these questions and develop an existing price range before you let a smooth salesman turn your head.

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2. What type of ring best represents the woman?

Again, my husband knocked this one out of the park. Not only did he study my jewelry preferences, he went a step further and found a princess-cut setting for a beautiful single diamond. Since the translation of my name means Princess, I found that particularly romantic. He also knew that I wasn’t into flashy jewelry. I liked simple, elegant rings without a lot of extra gems. He found one single, gorgeous stone in a graceful platinum setting. Since I work with my hands a lot, my ring needed to be easy to clean and durable. He accounted for this. His ring choice fit me better than any other ring I ever tried on. Now, after eleven years, it hasn’t needed one repair and looks as new as the day he gave it to me.

Choosing the right ring means fitting it to the woman behind the ring. It means not just knowing her ring size, but knowing her heart. I am a tomboy. Rings equivalent to a mortgage downpayment make me nervous. I’m always afraid I will damage or lose them. I am more comfortable with a more practically-priced offering. Other women love to be frosted with expensive jewelry. The woman’s tastes affect the price.

3. What’s the best way to get the biggest bang for your buck?

My husband drove over two hours from our town to get to a large jewelry supplier. This supplier was able to offer him a ring without the retail markup of regular jewelry stores. Therefore, in cutting out the middle man, my ring was appraised at double the cost he actually spent on it. He stretched his dollar as far as it could go, so when he got on one knee and opened the box (complete with tiny light to make the ring extra sparkly), he knew he was giving me his best representation of his love for me without causing extra debt grief.

Buying the perfect engagement ring can be a difficult decision, but with a bit of planning, it doesn’t have to cause anxiety. Instead, the experience can be enjoyed as the centerpiece of a beautiful memory. I want to stress, a relationship doesn’t rise or fall on the cost of the ring. If it does, it certainly isn’t built on a deep enough foundation to last during the ups and downs of marriage. Whether you spend $1,000 or $10,000, the priceless part of the relationship is the love found as two hearts become one, not in the hardware. The ring is just the symbol—not the sum —of a successful marriage.

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Published on September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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