Thinking of popping the question? I’m sure you have heard the old tradition that you need to spend two month’s salary on a diamond engagement ring.
You’re probably wondering: Do I have to?
No, of course not. How much you should spend on an engagement ring is entirely up to you and—ideally—your fiancée, too. After all, your finances may be separate now, but if you get married they’ll be joined soon enough. You have to ask yourself: Will your fiancée want to be helping you pay off her own engagement ring? Probably not. The less debt you bring into a marriage, the better.
In my opinion, your engagement ring should be meaningful more than expensive. Perhaps:
- You have an heirloom ring, rich with history, that doesn’t cost a dime.
- You scrimped to save $50 a week for a year to buy a $2,500 ring with cash—getting the best ring for your because you learned how to buy an engagement ring online.
- You forgo a diamond altogether and get a less expensive stone but work with a local jeweler to create a custom design.
Why two months’ salary is ridiculous…
Two months’ salary has always been a lot of money to set aside. I would argue, however, that this old benchmark is hardly realistic today for couples who want to marry in their twenties. (If you’re 35, 40, or 45, it’s another story, but hey, this is Money Under 30).
We’re not in the 1950’s anymore. Our generation is graduating with more and more student loan debt and facing diminutive entry level salaries. We’re facing costs of living that are so high that we either have to move back in with mom and dad or bunk up with a half dozen random roommates. Almost all women are working (at least before having kids) and often earn more than men. And even with two incomes, most of us can’t afford to go from college to married homeowners with kids in less than five years.
The median age of first marriage in the United States is rising. That means many of us won’t even marry in our twenties. But those of us that choose to should not be forced to wait just because we can’t afford the “traditional” definition of what getting married—from the diamond to the altar—should cost.
So how much should an engagement ring cost? Whatever you think it should cost, that you can afford. That last part’s important. It makes little sense to start your married life deeply in debt. Period.
Below are over 217 comments of people sharing their take on how much to spend on an engagement ring. It gets pretty heated. I closed comments because some people couldn’t play nice, but you can enjoy what’s already there!
P.S. Whatever you decide to spend, you can cut the final cost of your diamond by 40% – 50% by doing your homework and buying online. Also, it’s NOT all about size. Learn the Four C’s of diamonds and more with this diamond buying guide I put together.