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 ring!
At first glance, all wedding rings seem the same. They’re usually just golden bands with a beautiful diamond in the middle. But take a closer look at you’ll find out – there’s a lot more to it than this. Also depending on which one your fiancé comes to adore, there could be quite a difference in price.
Here’s what you need to know about how much you should spend on a wedding ring and how not to get in over your head in the process.
The 2-Month’s Salary Myth
First of all, if anyone tells you that you should be saving up at least 2-month’s salary to buy a wedding ring, forget it! They’re a victim of some very old but effective marketing.
Do you want to know who came up with that concept? Jewelry giant De Beers, of course, the largest player in the diamond industry! The same people who also brought you the “a diamond is forever” slogan that we all know so well also concocted the whole “2-month’s salary” campaign in the 1980s as a way to boost sales.
Obviously, it worked very well because this 2-month salary thing has since become an unwritten rule of thumb in our society when it comes to buying wedding rings. In fact, 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 a 2-month’s salary on a wedding ring didn’t seem to make too much sense to you, then you’re not alone.
First and foremost, it doesn’t make any sense for most young people. If you’re in your 20s and just starting out, how much “salary” do you really 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 a 2-months salary, what are people really paying for a wedding ring? According to an online poll of 1,640 adults conducted for The Upshot by Morning Consult, the typical American actually pays closer to 4 percent (or two weeks) of their annual pretax 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 the majority of people think an engagement ring should cost no more than $2,500.
The Struggle Is Still Real
While its good to see that more and more people are realizing that the 2-month’s 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 ring that may be way outside of their price range.
Social media is definitely a big 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 in knowing that they 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 among 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
1-Have An Honest Conversation About the Ring
What expectations do you both have going into ring shopping? 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 go online and pay attention to the style of ring that she tends to gravitate towards the most. Also, take note of the price tag.
2-Also Have An Honest Conversation About Your Finances
Obviously, you’ll need to discuss how much the two of you can afford to spend on a ring. But now is also a good opportunity 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 rather prioritize another financial goal such as paying off your student loans before spending too much on a ring.
Another way to keep your spending under control is to remember that the ring should be factored 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 definitely plenty of options for saving money on a wedding, but factoring your ring into the budget is something to consider.
3-Start Saving Up
With a budget in mind, set up a special, separate bank account that is specifically for buying this ring. Most online accounts will allow you to set up small, automatic deposits on a reoccurring basis, 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 where the money will be stored into an account every time you make a purchase.
Though it’s not a fantastic option, some retailers will offer 0% APR promotional lines of credit 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, its 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!
No matter where you decide to buy your ring, you’re going to want to familiarize yourself with something called the “4Cs”. This stands for 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 again 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 right away. Also, don’t feel stressed to buy a certain carat size. Just because a ring is one carat instead of two carats doesn’t mean he loves you any less.
Ultimately, even if your budget simply won’t permit you to buy the ring of your dreams right now, remember that you can always upgrade later on in life.