Hey fellas: listen up. Before you go looking for the best places to buy engagement rings, go out and spend a small fortune on an engagement ring for Valentine’s Day or any other time of year, I’ve got some free advice to share with you.
Don’t be suckered into “putting a ring on it” (buying an engagement ring) that you can’t truly afford!
Ladies: please don’t hate me for this post! But there’s a lot that needs to be said here – and it can help both you and the current or future man in your life.
For starters, the idea that men should spend three months’ worth of salary on an engagement ring is totally arbitrary – and totally ridiculous. It was a pure marketing ploy invented by the diamond industry, specifically the De Beers diamond cartel.
And what the marketing and advertising gurus in the diamond industry dreamed up somehow became many women’s dream too: the fantasy of having a guy get down on bended knee and pull out an enormous-sized, sparkly ring, the bigger the better.
So if you’re a guy making $50,000 a year, the wedding industry loves to suggest that you spend one-fourth of your salary, or $12,500 on an engagement ring, preferably a diamond ring.
Is it just me, or is that an excessive “rule of thumb” for all men to have shoved down their throats?
Fewer Americans Falling for the Engagement Ring Con
After that crazy “three months’ salary” advice started losing steam, the “conventional wisdom” was tweaked and men were told that it was fine to spend two months’ worth of salary buying an engagement ring.
Now, however, men and women seem to be getting wise to the fact that this is all just a commercial ploy to get people to fatten the pockets of jewelry merchants.
So it should come as no surprise, perhaps, that a new GoBankingRates.com survey shows that Americans have mostly scrapped the “two months’ pay” rule when deciding how much to spend on an engagement ring.
According to GoBankingRates, 1 in 3 Americans think $1,000 or less is a proper amount to spend on an engagement ring. Only 6% of those polled suggested spending two months’ salary.
How Much Should An Engagement Ring Cost?
In fact, here’s a breakdown of how 5,000 adults responded when they were asked, “How much do you feel should be spent on an engagement ring?”
Survey participants were offered the seven following dollar amounts:
Less than $1,000—36%
$1,000 to $2,999—19%
$3,000 to $4,999—11%
$5,000 to $9,999—7%
$10,000 or above—4%
Two months’ salary—6%
Money is no object—17%
Now it’s not my place to tell anybody exactly how much money to spend on a ring, nor whether the engagement ring you choose should be diamond, gold, topaz, plastic or anything else. And that’s precisely my point.
Why should you let other people dictate what you buy and how you spend your money? Did they earn the money or did you?
Getting caught up in “group think” for individual, personal choices is a financially dangerous path in life. Following what everybody else does will most likely give you the same economic results that most people experience – which aren’t good.
Consider this: 63% of Americans don’t even have $1,000 in savings? So why would you want to emulate broke people?
The same is true for other things beyond buying an engagement ring.
If you bought traditional Valentine’s Day gifts — springing for a dozen red roses, chocolates, a nice dinner for two people, diamond earrings and champagne – all that spending would set you back $512, according to a survey from Bankrate.com.
As it turns out, Valentine’s Day is also the day that most women would like to be proposed to, according to the Bridebook 2016 Wedding Survey. So guys: get ready to really lighten your wallet — or to break out your credit card — if you’re going to follow the crowd and propose on Valentine’s Day.
But honestly: does a proposal on any other day of the year become any less romantic, less heartfelt or any less genuine just because it didn’t occur on February 14? I don’t think so.
Engagement Ring Size and Cost: Mixed Messages
I feel for single guys who are contemplating walking down the aisle. I really do. They’re bombarded with a host of mixed messages and marketing that is probably confusing at best, and represents brainwashing at worst.
On the one hand, lots of women claim they want a true and honest, down-to-earth guy who is a good person at heart, regardless of his checkbook.
On the other hand, a little cash never hurt, right? That’s why we see some women flocking to more well-heeled guys that would otherwise never get a second look were it not for the size of their bank accounts.
The media images we see about marriage and engagements don’t help much either.
TV commercials and magazine ads suggest that a truly “devoted” man would be willing to spend at all costs on his honey; never mind that buying a 2-carat rock might put you into debt.
A Word of Advice to Women and Men About Finding an Engagement Ring
We’ve all been so conditioned to go all out for “The Big Day” that many of us lose our minds – not to mention losing track of all the time that gets spent obsessing over every little wedding detail.
Bridebook found, for example, that the average bride it surveyed spent a whopping 970 hours planning her wedding last year.
Even more telling: 40% of brides admitted they would have sold a family member to pay for their wedding — although only 5% said they would have sold their dog.
Clearly, us women aren’t the most rationale thinkers while in the throes of wedding planning. Why do you think TV shows showing Bridezillas are so popular?
So ladies: let’s give the guys a break and not force them to live up to unrealistic and financially unhealthy standards when it comes to engagement rings and weddings.
And guys: here’s my advice on how much to spend on an engagement ring:
It’s simple: Buy whatever ring you think your sweetheart would like that you can actually afford.
Sure, your girl might swoon over Kim Kardashian’s jaw-dropping 15-carat rock, or her eyes may bulge at seeing Mariah Carey’s larger-than-life 35-carat engagement ring.
But you don’t have to try to copy celebrities.
And regardless of whether you’re a Hollywood A-lister or a regular person who’s not-so-famous, you’ll be far better off focusing on starting off your life together on the right foot financially – and not going into debt for a ring or a wedding.
Otherwise, money problems can send you and your mate from wedded bless to divorce court faster than you can say: “I do.”
And trust me, if your honey truly loves you and wants to have a happy, committed and yes, debt-free marriage for life, her eyes will still light up when you pop the question – even if the ring you buy has far less bling than the wedding industry suggests.