How Much Engagement Ring Can You Actually Afford?

By Andrea Cannon on 21 September 2015 6 comments

Shopping for and purchasing an engagement ring is one of the most important decisions a young couple can make. It can be easy to get carried away with the ring, but it's important to remember that the wedding, honeymoon, and first year of marriage will also be very expensive. Fortunately, we've found some simple ways to help you figure out how much you can afford to spend on the ring.

1. Evaluate Your Finances

Before making the purchase, you should first get a handle on your finances so you can determine how much you make, how much you can finance, and whether a certain amount is worth it. The average cost of a diamond engagement ring has risen from just under $4000 to just over $5000 in 2015, but that doesn't mean you should be spending exactly that. You are the only person who can decide what the right amount is to spend on an engagement ring.

2. Forget the Two Paycheck Rule

Most people still abide by the two paycheck rule, which states that two months' worth of earnings is a good amount to spend on a ring. However, with the current economic situation and more savvy shopping techniques, the estimate has fallen to one month's worth of earnings.

3. Finance It

At the end of the day, financing is always an option. By financing the ring, you will have time to pay it off, but will likely have to pay a fee and/or interest. If you are able to finance the ring with 0% APR, then it may be worthwhile. If you already have enough debt under your name and don't want to add another bill right before you're married, then you should avoid financing altogether.

4. Find Something Sentimental

Something sentimental trumps something expensive every time. If you have an item that means something to your family or your partner's, include it in the engagement. For instance, giving your fiance your grandmother's engagement ring can show them that you're serious about sharing your family with them and can take the pressure off of finding the "perfect" engagement ring. Giving him or her a sentimental item will make your engagement ring seem more special, or can serve as a second engagement ring or wedding band.

Often, men will give their family heirloom as the engagement ring itself, which can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars — all of which can be put towards the wedding or honeymoon.

5. Figure Out Your Partner's Style

The national average carat size is only 0.4, so don't feel obligated to purchase a two-carat engagement ring. In fact, extravagance may not even be your fiance's style. You need to first ask yourself what you think they would like before making the purchase. Their preferences will affect the price of the ring, so taking their taste into account will help you determine the right budget.

Engagement rings can be found in gold, white gold, platinum, silver, and more. While diamonds are the most popular engagement ring stone, you may want to consider other unique options, like an emerald, sapphire, or ruby. Each type of metal and stone comes with its own advantages and price point, so you should know what type of jewelry they normally wear. For instance, does your spouse-to-be tend to go for classic or extravagant jewelry and designs?

6. Visit Your Jeweler

To ensure that you get the most from your investment, make sure to take the time to find your fiance the right ring. Visit your local jeweler to ask questions and see some examples of rings in your price range. Make sure to keep the four Cs (cut, color, carat, clarity) in mind when choosing a diamond, but don't get carried away with the stone.

7. Purchase Online

Visiting a jewelry store and speaking with a professional about your needs doesn't require you to purchase the ring at the jeweler. In fact, you can actually cut the cost of your ring by as much as 50% by simply making the purchase online and doing your research. Sites like Blue Nile offer beautiful engagement rings, for a huge discount, and can even help you create a custom ring just for her.

8. Upgrade the Ring Later

If you simply cannot afford to purchase the ring you'd like to get, then consider upgrading later in life. After all, after you pop the question, you'll be together forever, right? That gives you plenty of time to upgrade the ring later. Most importantly, remember that the ring you choose won't have any effect on your relationship. There are bigger things to worry about and bigger expenses on the horizon, so try not to get too caught up on the ring. Remember, getting engaged is about planning to share your lives together, not about giving them a fancy present.

Have you purchased an engagement ring? How did you determine how much to spend? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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Guest's picture
Nancy

You know what, it's possible to have a strong long marriage without an engagement ring to seal the deal. The money one would spend on an engagement ring can go into furnishing a home, saving for a house, buying a car, or clearing debts for the best possible start to a life-long loving partnership. We don't have to buy into the De Beers advertising nonsense. But if you must--because all you're friends are doing it--these are some good suggestions, though going into deeper debt for a piece of jewelry is probably a bad idea.

Guest's picture
Guest

How obliviously hetero your viewpoint is. Gay people can get married in all 50 states now, yet it didn't occur to the author (or your editorial management) that engagement rings are now man to man and woman to woman. Clearly gay people are not in your target audience.

Chrissa Hardy's picture

Thank you for bringing this to our attention, Guest. We have made the appropriate changes to this article and will do so going forward. We absolutely do not want to alienate our readers and we appreciate your feedback.

Guest's picture
Carey @ wiserdollar.com

I'd also add to figure how much cash in hand you have. Then buy a ring for no more than that amount. It's a simpler strategy and avoids beginning a marriage where precedence is already set to borrow money to pay for what you want now. Carey @ wiserdollar.com

Guest's picture
Al

Starting a marriage means being comfortable making all big decisions in life together. I shopped for my engagement ring with my fiance because we both wanted to make such a big financial and emotional decision together. Shopping in stores was pretty uncomfortable but we found this website called fourmine that sends customers free replicas of their favorite styles and makes it really easy for them to find a ring they love. would recommend it to any couples looking to shop together.

Guest's picture
carattop

This is the absolute worst advice.....If I wanted to see people screw themselves I could not come up with a better way; Finance it! Forget the two paycheck rule! Follow some trend! This says nothing of how to find a good deal. Buy the highest quality stone you are comfortable purchasing but go for quality. And even if stuff isn't rough, focus on why youre doing it in the first place.