money

How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

Cash Lambert

Managing Editor

Today is the day. You’re ready to make the commitment of a lifetime. Before leaving your home, you take one last, long look at the engagement ring you’re about to pop the question with. You wonder, “Will my partner love this ring? Will the answer be ‘Yes’? Did I pay too much for it?” 

These are all fair questions to ask yourself, and the last one may well be the one that nags you long after the ring is on your significant other’s finger. 

How much should you spend on an engagement ring is an important question to ask. You don’t want to spend too little, but at the same time, you don’t want to spend a large amount on an engagement ring because other wedding costs will soon follow — keep in mind that the average cost of a wedding today is $38,000.

This article will tackle the question how much should you spend on an engagement ring, and answer some other important questions you also should be asking yourself:

  • How much does an engagement ring cost?
  • What should I be looking for in the perfect ring?
  • How can I save enough to buy the ring I know my partner would love?
  • Are there any ways I can cut costs without sacrificing quality?

Let’s take a look at each of these questions as we take you through the engagement ring purchasing process. 

How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring?

One rule of thumb people may tell you is that you should spend two months of your income on the ring. Where did this advice come from?

A jewelry ad. That’s right — it came from the industry itself. 

It also isn’t good advice. Here’s why.

Let’s say your gross annual income is $30,000, which is $2,500 per month. According to the above rule, you should spend $5,000 on the ring, which is two months of your income. 

Depending upon what your other existing expenses are, this investment in the ring could be putting you into the red zone as far as your debt to income ratio is concerned, which is why this rule of thumb can be a formula for financial disaster. 

Here are some other points to consider when deciding how much you should spend:

What Your Combined Income And Expenses Will Be

In a perfect world, you’ll have a much higher income after you get married, and your expenses will remain the same. If this is the case, you can spend more on the ring than you would if you were calculating the cost based on your income alone. Being married has many advantages, a combined income being one of them.

But while you’ll probably be having a higher household monthly income, your overhead and expenses will also be increasing. If your expenses, including debt, will be increasing substantially, you’ll want to cut back a bit on what you plan on spending on the ring. The last thing you want is heavy financial pressure as you adjust to married life.

The Price Range At Your Preferred Jeweler

Where are you planning to buy your bride-to-be an engagement ring? You can spend as little as $59.99 for a 1/3 Carat ring at Walmart, or $6,100 minimum at Tiffany’s. 

Kay Jewelers or Jared may be more to your liking, where you’ll start at about a $500 price tag for a ring, with the prices going up from there.

The important thing is to not fall in love with the first ring you see and instead shop around at different types of jewelry stores. Doing so can save you money. 

What Your Future Fiancée Wants In A Ring

As your love for each other grows, and you’ve probably discussed the possibility of getting married, the subject of engagement rings quite likely came up. If that’s the case, you can probably probe a little more and find out what your partner would like an engagement ring to look like, hypothetically speaking of course.

The lucky person may want a simple solitaire or may prefer something more ornate with multiple diamonds scattered throughout the setting and band. 

Whatever the preference is, you’ll be motivated to give your partner their desires, but again, you’ll need to carefully consider where you’ll buy it, in order to keep the price down.

Your Current Financial Obligations

You may have balances on your credit cards, or you may be deep in student debt. 

If your debt to income ratio is high, you should spend less on the ring than you probably want to. It makes no sense at all to pile engagement ring debt upon existing debt, digging your financial hole even deeper. 

These are some factors to consider as you are answering the all-important question: how much should you spend on an engagement ring? 

The key part of the question is “should you”, not “will you”. 

On that note, let’s look at what engagement rings cost in 2020.

The Cost of Engagement Rings

It’s good to know what the average is and what the majority of people are spending. Nobody likes to be below average, except in their golf score. 

But spending below the average when buying an engagement ring isn’t something negative if it means you’re living within your means. 

According to The Knot, the average price of an engagement ring currently stands at about $5,900. 

One-third of buyers are spending between $1,000 and $3,000, with 10% spending less than $1,000. 

Don’t spend money for the sake of spending money. Who’s going to know the price, besides possibly your fiancée? In that case, your partner may not even care how much you spent versus the average cost if they absolutely love the ring you bought.

For this reason, you may even want to bring your partner with you when you pick out the ring. That way you can rest assured that your partner will love it.

While it may ruin the surprise that you’re going to pop the question, your partner won’t know when or how you’re going to do it. That’s also a very big surprise that you’ll both never forget. 

Next, let’s look at specific ways you can save money buying an engagement ring.

Saving Money When You Buy An Engagement Ring

No doubt you’re concerned about over-spending on the ring. Like everyone, you want to save money by being a smart shopper. 

Here are three ways you can save money on what may be one of the biggest, and most important, investments you’ll ever make.

Shop Online 

It’s no secret that many retailers’ sales have plunged because so many people are buying through online websites.

Shannon Delaney is the Director of Communications for James Allen, a reputable online diamond retailer. She says that ring buyers can save from 30% — 50% by buying online. That’s certainly worth looking into.

Make Concessions 

Maybe you can give a little on the size carat you have a preference for.  Or maybe you don’t need to buy a band that has multiple diamonds in it. 

Cutting back a little on the features of the ring doesn’t mean you’re cheap. It means that you want to save money and keep the cost within your budget. 

Plus, you can always add stones to the ring later on when it’s better for you financially.

Buy At The Right Time Of The Year 

If you buy a ring close to Valentine’s Day, or Christmas/Hanukkah, you’re going to pay a premium because demand is so high then. Yes, those are great times of the year to pop the question, but consider making your purchase more in the off seasons, particularly summertime.

Next, we’ll look at some important considerations as you make the big decision on which ring to buy.

Factors to Consider When Buying

Now that you know about how much you’d like to spend on an engagement ring, and a few ways to save money doing it, what should you be looking for when you’re looking at all of the different types of rings to choose from? Let’s examine a few.

Size

Size matters when it comes to buying a diamond. Depending upon their quality, diamonds generally get higher in price as the size increases. However, a smaller, high quality diamond may cost more than a larger diamond of lesser quality. 

Clarity

One with a better rating for its clarity is going to carry a larger price. Generally speaking, the fewer the blemishes a diamond has, the better the quality, and the higher the price. 

Desire

What does your partner want? A round setting, or oval? A gold or silver band? As for color, white or brown? Point being, you’ll need to get your significant other’s input, if at all possible. This may be the most important factor of all.

Several big questions remain, such as how you are going to pay for the ring. Let’s look at the financial aspects of saving up for an engagement ring and how you can avoid debt when you buy.

Saving For An Engagement Ring

Buying an engagement ring is a big investment. Hopefully you’re giving it a lot of careful thought and have ample time before you make the purchase to save up for it and avoid going into debt.

Patience is certainly a virtue when it comes to buying an engagement ring. The longer you wait, the more time you can budget and save for it. If you’re able to pay cash right now and saving up isn’t necessary, that’s great. If not, here are a couple of steps you can take to save for your ring.

Spend Less

It’s short term pain for long term gain. You don’t have to cut back forever, just when you’re saving for the ring. You can resume your normal budget when the ring is in your pocket.

How can you spend less each month? Take a minute to think about or write out a few things you can cut out, such as subscriptions, fine dining, or other ways. 

If you take a hard look at your budget and make an honest evaluation of it, you’ll find areas where you can cut back temporarily and put money away into your savings account. 

Another option is looking at lesser known deductions so that you can save money come tax time. 

Earn More  

There is no ceiling to how much you can earn. 

How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring?

While the answer to this question is different for every person, the common theme is this: saving more, spend less, earn more and shop around for an engagement ring that makes financial sense for you and your partner’s future.  

The look on your partner’s face will make all the time and effort you invested well worth it.

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Written By

Cash Lambert

Cash Lambert is WealthFit's Managing Editor. He is the author of Waves of Healing: How Surfing Changes the Lives of Children with Autism.

Read more about Cash

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