How Much Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?

Brent Pittman —  02/03/2012


Our engagement ring.

Wow! There are a lot of premarital financial issues to digest! By now you’ve done a lot of hard work and should really know if you are your potential spouse (PS) are financially compatible. If you’re just joining us be sure to check out the beginning of this premarital financial series.

We’ll start looking at mixed bag of premarital financial issues in the next few articles. How big should the ring be? How much should a wedding cost? What about prenuptial agreements? Let’s dive in.

How Much Money Should I Spend on an Engagement Ring?

Gents, I’ll speak to you first. If you don’t know it already, for most women a ring is big deal. It’s a symbol of your relationship that she carries around with her, but it’s not worth going into debt for. She’s been thinking about having ring on her finger, ever since she saw a diamond sparkle when she was 4 years old. Did I mention its a big deal for women? No pressure,  you can handle it.

The best way to know about her views on wedding rings is to ask her. I know that doesn’t seem romantic, but you’re a smart guy and can do it in a creative way. You might be talking about another friend who got engaged and you just pepper her with questions or walking in the mall and stop by to take a peek.

She’ll know what you’re doing by the way and she’ll like that you are trying to find out what she wants. You could always ask her mom or best friend for additional help. Remember to find out cut, clarity, color, caret, shape, and her ring size.

Ladies, your turn. Buying a ring is complicated for a guy and he might not know how to be subtile about finding out the details. Please, please, please don’t force a guy to go ring shopping if he’s not ready. Be patient. When he’s ready, it will happen and quick.

Remember a ring is a lot of money for guys and it could take a while for him to save up. Accept too that a smaller ring is better than no ring at all.

You can help things though. Dropping hints (not atom bombs) about what you like or don’t like when others get engaged. Start doing some research when ya’ll get serious so you’ll know more about rings. Ladies, I know you are creative and invented the subtile hint, so give him some help on this one.

Act surprised when he proposes (you already knew I’m sure) and if it’s not what you always wanted, don’t tell him then.

So how much money should I spend already?

O.K. I hear you. There is a common “rule” floating around there that you should spend 2-3 months salary on a ring. For most people this is a terrible idea at best.

I’m sure some of you skipped down here, so I’ll say it again. Buying a ring isn’t worth going into debt. Guys, save up for the ring and pay 100% cash. It’s better to go into marriage with a savings account, than a huge ring.

When you are starting out in life, 1 month salary is just fine. If you do your research and are a good shopper , you can get a great deal and get what she likes for much less than you thought. You don’t have to break the bank. Plus, you can also add additional features to the ring for anniversaries or add additional bands later in life.

If you are getting married later in life, the 2-3 month rule might work. But again avoid debt and have ample savings to start out your marriage.

Here are few additional resources on engagement rings:

How did you/are you going to decide on how much to spend on engagement rings? I’d love to hear some ring stories in the comments below. 

[This is part of the Premarital Financial Series]

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Brent Pittman

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Brent is a financial coach and writer looking for the perfect donut. He believes personal finance should be both fun and accessible to anyone willing to learn.