Q&A: How Much Money Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring?

So you’ve been together with your beau for a long time, and maybe you’ve even had some conversations about spending the rest of your lives together.

If you’re smart, you’ve started hashing out details that will make your future life smoother (note I said smooth-ER!).

Some important issues:

  1. Who makes the spaghetti and meatballs when you both get home at 5:30, exhausted!
  2. Is he going to start putting his dirty socks in the hamper instead of on the floor?
  3. Finances!!

I cannot stress how important number 3 is. Be on the same page with your significant other on finances. HuffingtonPost reported that arguing about money early in a relationship increases the risk of divorce. Investopedia labels debt as one of the top 6 marriage killers. So anything related to money is pretty important to communicate about!

An engagement ring is an important, wonderful symbol of your new future together. It is a tangible expression of your fiances commitment! But buying a ring that’s too expensive could introduce money troubles right when you are beginning a stage of life that is stressful anyway! And buying a ring that is too cheap…well he won’t do that if he knows what’s good for him!

So what’s the right rule of thumb for how much you should spend on an engagement ring? WhoWhatWear describes it well when they break it up into 5 rules–because one hard and fast rule doesn’t quite cut it. I think we can cut it down to 4 rules. Choose the one that best fits YOU as a couple, and that will be exactly the right rule to follow.

Rule 1: 2 Month’s Salary

how much to spend on engagement ring 2 months salary

This idea has been around for a long time, and it came from a diamond company! That’s right, the idea of spending 2 month’s salary on a ring was part of a marketing effort by DeBeers, to try and give men an attainable, measurable way to decide how much they should spend. That being said, this is the most common answer you will hear, and this is how a lot of guys decide how much to spend.

Rule 2: 1 Month’s Salary

how much to spend on engagement ring 1 month

For some, 2 month’s salary just wouldn’t be a smart choice. Why spend years paying for the engagement ring when your marriage is about the two of you, not the ring? The 1 month salary guideline is another very common measurement of how much to spend (again, this was DeBeer’s suggestion through marketing until 1980, when they bumped it up to 2 months!).

Rule 3: The Average

how much average spend on engagement ring

Here’s another way to look at it: what does the average couple spend on a ring? According to USAToday, that number is $5,598. This number varies year-to-year, and takes a big dive during recession. As a little context, in 2012 the average was $3,500 (theknot put the same year closer to $5,000, so there’s some smarmy data going on somewhere). So there’s a ballpark if you are looking to aim around the average.

4. No Rules

After all is said and done, your engagement ring purchase is your choice, and you should be happy with it. Don’t let anyone else tell you what you need to do. There’s nothing wrong with guidelines, but take them for what they are. Guidelines. Pick a price that works for you. Pick a type of gem that works for you, for pete’s sake! Who says it has to be a diamond?? Make it custom if you want. Use stainless steel instead of titanium if you feel like it. And if you decide it’s within your means to put the Hope Diamond on your finger, then go! Follow your bliss!