Weddings can get really crazy. The logistics, the costs, and (if you’re an interracial couple) the cultural adjustments can drive you up the wall long before the big day itself.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Let’s go back to where it all starts: the proposal. As a woman, I can only imagine how difficult it would be for any guy or girl (it is 2017, and #LoveWins after all) to ask the girl or guy (it is 2017- you get the picture) of his/her dreams to marry her, or er, him. There’s the endless planning of the “perfect” proposal (no thanks to all those unrealistic rom-coms), painstakingly waiting for the “perfect” timing, and mustering up the courage to actually get down on one knee.
And the ring. Oh, gosh, the ring.
Should you get her a 2-carat or a 3-carat? Wait, can you even afford to buy a diamond ring? Isn’t it a rule that you should spend 2 months’ worth of your salary on it? Yikes, you’ve still got that student loan to pay off.
So, for the sake of all our lovestruck readers out there figuring out how much to spend or how much to remit *wink*wink* over to their fiancees for an engagement ring, we present a handful of useful guidelines for arriving at the appropriate amount:
1. Ignore Rule No. 1.
That 2 months’ salary rule? Forget it. If you must know, it was the jewerly giant DeBeers who came up with that random figure to get people to spend more money during the Great Depression (!). Their flagship product? Diamond rings. Ding! Ding! Ding!
Plus, that rule has some serious flaws. Apart from the fact that it was engineered by a diamond company to get you to pay them more when you’re already struggling, it doesn’t make a distinction between your gross and take-home pay, and those are two different figures. It also ignores how most people get engaged in their late 20’s, a time when they’re not exactly at their peak earning potential and when many are still struggling with student debt and credit card loans.
And come on, if this was a hard and fast rule, Mark Zuckerberg’s wife should have a skating rink-sized diamond on her finger, right?
2. Take a long, hard look at your personal finances and check out your financing options, if needed.
Rather than looking to some old-fashioned and frankly dubious rule, that is.
Start with determining how much you can actually afford. List down your current net income every month and your corresponding expenses. If you’re still paying off a mortgage or a student loan, don’t forget to include your regular payments in the equation.
By now, you can pretty much determine how much you can afford to save every month if you cut down on unnecessary expenses. Multiply that amount by how long you plan to wait before proposing and add it to any amount you’ve already saved for that purpose, if any.
Ideally, you should purchase the ring without having to incur any debt, but if that’s not possible, you do have other options. One is to borrow money from a relative. This is perhaps the quickest way since they’re not likely to do a credit check or charge interest, but you could damage the relationship if you don’t pay them on time. To avoid this, have everything in writing: payment terms, deadlines, and the exact amount you’re borrowing.
Some jewelry retailers also offer payment plans, so they’re worth a look-see too (only watch out for tricky terms and really high interest rates). Just try to have the ring fully-paid off by your wedding day. You wouldn’t want to start your married life in debt, would you?
3. Consider your fiancee’s expectations.
In the midst of all this, don’t forget to think about what your wife or husband would actually want. That engagement ring is likely to be the most significant piece of jewelry they will own and they’ll probably wear it everyday, so it’s important to choose the right one.
Okay, so plenty of wives and husbands-to-be probably have a dream ring in mind, but these aren’t necessarily the most expensive ones out there. Some might like a family heirloom with sentimental value, such as the ring your grandfather proposed to your grandmother with, some might prefer a completely different (and possibly more affordable) gemstone, and some might balk at you spending AU$5,000 (the national average spent on engagement rings in Australia) on a single piece.
This brings us to….
4. Talk things over with your fiancee.
Okay, so talking about the cost of a ring is neither sexy nor romantic, but an honest conversation about your finances and expectations is critical to having a successful life together.
Talk about your financial goals as a couple. Do you both plan to have your student loans all paid off before you have kids? Is there a house you two would like to put a down payment on? Once that’s settled, work out how and where an engagement ring would fit in with those goals.
Mention a ballpark figure as to what you can afford to spend on a ring too, ask your significant other about what s/he would like, and then hunt for something with the specifications that fit within that range.
Mind you, if you spend quite a lot on your own hobbies, you should be willing to spend at least that much on a ring for your future spouse too.
5. Think outside the box.
As with anything, a bit of creativity can save you some pennies.
For instance, instead of the usual round or princess cut diamond ring, why not go for a cushion or oval-shaped one? Or as we’ve mentioned earlier, forego the diamond altogether and go for a more affordable yet just as pretty sapphire (Princess Di’s and later on, Duchess Kate’s engagement ring feature a large sapphire, natch) or emerald. Some jewelers can even make a small stone look bigger or flashier with the right setting.
Estate sales, auctions, and your family’s old jewelry box are also great sources for one of a kind yet reasonably-priced rings. Just have them independently appraised to be on the safe side.
The bottomline is, how much you actually spend on an engagement ring shouldn’t automatically correlate to how much you value your future wife or husband, especially if you’re more concerned about saving up for your future together.
And hey, if they can’t understand that, perhaps choosing the right person to marry should be more of a concern rather than spending enough on a ring, no?