How Much Should You Spend on a Wedding Ring?

Are you about to take your relationship to the next level? If so, then not only are you going to need a good marriage proposal, but you’re also going to need to seal the deal with the one thing that symbolizes your love: the perfect ring!

At first glance, all wedding bands seem the same. They’re usually just yellow gold rings with a center stone. But take a closer look at it, you’ll find out – there’s a lot more to it than that. Also, depending on which one your fiancé comes to adore, there could be quite a price difference.

This article covers how much you should spend on a wedding ring to avoid getting in over your head and paying more than your budget.

Wedding ring

The 2-Month Salary Engagement Ring Myth

First of all, 2-months’ salary doesn’t buy engagement or wedding rings. Anyone who says otherwise is a victim of some ancient but effective marketing, which formed the engagement ring myth.

Do you want to know who came up with that concept? Jewelry giant, De Beers. Of course, they are the most significant player in the diamond industry! The same people who also brought you the “a diamond is forever” slogan that we all know well also concocted the “2-months’ salary” campaign in the 1980s to boost sales.  

It worked very well because this 2-month strategy has since become an unwritten rule of thumb in our society regarding buying wedding rings or diamond engagement rings. There have even been attempts to increase that figure to as much as 3-month’s salary!

What Do Most Americans Actually Pay?

If spending 2-months’ salary on a wedding ring didn’t seem to make too much sense to you, then you’re not alone.

First, it doesn’t make any sense for most young people. If you’re in your 20’s and just starting out, how much salary do you have? If anything, you might be earning entry-level pay and are probably most concerned about making your rent and paying off your student loans.

So if it’s not 2-months’ salary, what are people paying for a wedding ring? According to an online poll of 1,640 adults conducted for The Upshot by Morning Consult, the typical American spends closer to 4 percent (or two weeks) of their annual pre-tax salary. That generally worked out to somewhere between $1,400 and $1,900 for the majority of those people surveyed.

Those numbers seem to align with a different study from TD Ameritrade. They found that most people think the average engagement ring cost should not be more than $2,500.

budget wedding ring

The Struggle Is Still Real

While it’s good to see that more and more people realize that the 2-months’ salary doesn’t hold any salt, that’s not to say that there isn’t still a tremendous amount of pressure on couples to purchase a wedding band that may be way outside of their price range.

Social media is a significant instigator when it comes to this. One of the first things a newly engaged couple knows they will do is post a picture of the ring on Facebook or Instagram for all of their friends and family to see. But with that, they also might feel some stress knowing that their ring will most likely be judged.

If that’s not enough, then you’ve got celebrities like Jennifer Lopez showing off her 20-carat, $4.5 million engagement ring from then-fiancé Alex Rodriguez. While most people will understand these two are millionaires, it does create an air of unrealistic expectations in our society.

With that said, if you’re thinking about proposing, what are some things that you can do as a couple to make purchasing a wedding ring as easy as possible?

How To Buy a Great Ring Without Breaking the Bank

perfect wedding ring

Below are tips for buying engagement and wedding rings without going into debt.

1-Have An Honest Conversation About the Ring  

As a couple, you should know how much to spend on an engagement or wedding ring. What expectations do you both have going into ring shopping? First, recognize that the woman is typically the one who has the most at stake in this purchase, so really listen to what’s important to her.  

Visit a few local jewelry shops or consider buying the wedding or engagement ring online. Pay attention to the ring style that she gravitates towards the most. Also, take note of the price tag.

2-Talk About Your Finances

You’ll need to discuss how much the two of you can afford to spend on a ring. For example, a diamond engagement ring typically costs more than a plain white gold ring. So this is the time to make the discussion bigger than that.  

The two of you are about to spend your life together, which means legally, everything will be combined: your home, savings, debts, etc. You might come to realize that one of you would instead prioritize another financial goal, such as paying off your student loans before spending too much on a diamond ring.  

Another way to control your spending is to factor the ring into the overall budget. For example, if you were only planning to spend $25,000 altogether and you purchase a $2,500 ring, then you’ve already blown through 10 percent of your budget.

There are plenty of options for saving money on a wedding, but factoring your ring into the budget is something to consider. It would also help to find out the average wedding ring cost before you start shopping. In addition, an engagement ring calculator can also help you stay within your budget.

3-Start Saving Up

Set up a unique, separate bank account specifically for buying this ring with a budget in mind. Most online accounts will allow you to set up small, automatic deposits regularly, so you’ll barely even notice the money is missing.

You can also look into some personal finance tools to help you budget. As an alternative, you could also use a simple micro-savings app like Acorns or Chime, to store money in an account every time you make a purchase.

Though it’s not a fantastic option, some retailers will offer 0% APR promotional lines of care to new customers. As long as you can commit to paying off the ring in full and never missing a payment over the given promotion period, then this may be a suitable option.

4-Time To Start Seriously Shopping  

Once you’ve got the funds to buy a ring, it’s time to get serious about shopping.

You can start by looking at jewelry stores, but beware. The retail price of diamonds is substantially marked up by an average of 300 percent. Sometimes it’s even as high as 1,000 percent!

Instead of overspending at a local jeweler, consider checking prices online. Two trustworthy retailers are Blue Nile and James Allen.

No matter where you decide to buy your ring, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with something called the “4Cs:” Carat, clarity, cut, and color. Any one of these variables can affect the overall price and quality of the ring you hope to buy. For example, you might find a dynamite deal on a 1-carat ring but then find out the color is too yellow or cloudy.

5-Take Your Time

If you don’t find a ring you love, right away, don’t worry! Take your time and look for one another day. This isn’t a decision that should be rushed or taken lightly.

Even if you do find a ring you love, never feel pressured by a salesman to buy it immediately. Also, don’t feel stressed about buying specific carat sizes. Just because a ring is one carat instead of two carats doesn’t mean he loves you any less.

Ultimately, even if your budget won’t permit you to buy the ring of your dreams right now, remember that you can always upgrade later on in life.

DJ Whiteside

DJ Whiteside is a financial enthusiast who believes in helping other people to achieve financial independence. He’s constantly looking for practical ways to optimize savings, reduce spending, and create a lifetime of passive income. DJ holds an MBA from the University of Michigan, which allows him to take an analytical approach to financial topics. He has been a financial writer since 2011 and has self-published 5 personal finance eBooks relating to saving, retirement, and financial independence.

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