How Much Should You Spend On An Engagement Ring?

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An engagement ring costs a lot of money, but it doesn't have to. If you want to know how much to spend on an engagement ring, here are some tips to follow.

There are many different opinions when it comes to just how much someone should spend on an engagement ring. You might have heard that people should spend one month’s salary on a ring or even three month’s salary. Crazy, right?

If you’re wondering where this concept came from you can thank De Beers, who went on a marketing campaign that would change the way couples viewed diamonds forever. Prior to the 1930’s very few engagement rings contained diamonds, but after numerous De Beers ads over time, diamond rings became synonymous with getting engaged. Then, De Beers ads in the 1980s started talking about how men should spend a month’s salary or more on a ring, which is how this idea came about.

For many people, the idea of spending one to three months of their income on anything would be crippling, so it’s time to challenge this notion. After all, a marriage isn’t about the ring. It’s about the relationship. So, if you’re wondering how much money you should spend on an engagement ring, go through these steps.

Decide On A Budget for your engagement ring


If you’re serious about marrying someone, you should have a good idea about their tastes. Have they always talked about having a large diamond? Have they mentioned they have an heirloom ring? What can you afford? How much debt do you currently have? All of these questions are important considerations.

For example, if your spouse is set on having an expensive ring, and you’re set on giving them one, it might take you quite a while to save up for it. On the other hand, if your future spouse has always wanted a gemstone instead or isn’t particular about what she wants, you might be able to spend less on a ring.

Either way, a budget is key. You have to go into a jewelry store or search online, or even check out Amazon’s engagement ring section knowing what you can afford and be prepared to walk away if you don’t get the price you want. This level of discipline is important not only for your wallet but for your future marriage too.

Save to Pay in Cash


Jewelry stores know how to get you to spend more than you can afford. All you have to do is turn on the TV to hear an ad about how you can buy a ring with “same as cash” financing.  However, when it comes to an engagement ring, you should save to pay for the ring in cash.

Adding debt to your plate especially if you already have debt is not a great way to enter into a marriage, so start a separate savings account as soon as you decide to propose and add to it until you have the amount you want.

Don’t Make Your Future Wife Pay For Her Ring


This is related to the first two points but it should be emphasized. You should never make your future wife pay for her ring, and what I mean by that is that you should never put her ring on a credit card or finance it to the point where she will have to help pay it off after you are married. An engagement ring is supposed to be a gift, and you’re not supposed to pay for your own gifts.

Much like I have encouraged people to not gift their spouses cars, I am also going to encourage you not to gift someone an engagement ring if it’s financed.

An engagement ring costs a lot of money, but it doesn't have to. If you want to know how much to spend on an engagement ring, here are some tips to follow.

Bulk Traditions


Call me crazy, but you don’t have to buy your fiance a diamond ring. Remember, this is a trend that was created by one of the leading diamond companies in the world, and it’s a trend that has only been popular since the 1930’s.

To put it another way, large, powerful, and wealthy jewelry companies spent a lot of money on very clever marketing plans that influenced generations of people to purchase diamonds. It’s not a long standing tradition. It’s a tradition that was created out of thin air in the minds of very smart marketers.

So, whether you decide to gift a family heirloom, buy an inexpensive ring, or just go without one altogether, don’t be afraid to skip the tradition or do something different.

After all, it’s far more important to start off your marriage with money in the bank and on solid financial footing than it is to have an empty bank account because you bought a ring that was above your means.


How much do you think someone should spend on an engagement ring? How did you shop for/decide on an engagement ring? What type of ring does your partner want?

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Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for parents who want to better their finances and take on a more active financial role in their families.


  • I followed no rules when I bought our engagement rings. The amount spent on an engagement ring should be 100 percent up to the person buying it. But, our rings cost more than my 2 month salary.

  • Hannah says:

    I think the engagement ring tradition is a lovely tradition, but I think diamonds are ridiculously overblown most of the time. I would encourage anyone to consider diamond alternatives or heirloom diamonds before committing several grand to a ring.

  • Rick spent a good chunk of dough on my ring and all I can think now is, “What a waste”. The “now” me would be perfectly happy with a simple band and the extra cash accruing interest over the past twenty years. 🙂

  • Jon let me pick out my ring, and I picked a relatively modest sapphire ring, because the stone was flat and I thought it was less likely to get caught on stuff and damaged. So many rings (that were way more expensive) seemed too big and unwieldy, especially since the engagement and wedding rings are the only ones I’ve ever worn consistently.

    That said, picking the sapphire made me happy and gets a lot of attention because it’s different.

  • Gwen says:

    Skip the diamonds. Did you know you can get rings made out of meteorite and dinosaur bones? Way cooler. (and can be pretty inexpensive).

  • My wife and I selected the engagement ring together to be sure it was what we both wanted. We agreed upon a beautiful diamond ring that didn’t live up to DeBeers’ pricing guidelines, but was paid for upfront. I would remind anyone shopping for an engagement ring that it is a symbol of your love, not a dollar valuation of it! Find one you’ll both love that’s within your budget.

  • We didn’t think to challenge the engagement ring tradition, though my husband certainly didn’t go into debt or spend 3 months’ salary on one, either. Though I cherish my ring, I would’ve been happy with a non-traditional option as well. And great point that it’s definitely not a gift if you have to pay for it later!

  • Elizabeth says:

    The dirty secret about diamonds is they depreciate 80% after you buy them!!! Don’t waste your money. Find something for less than $200 and invest the rest with Vanguard.

  • Anita says:

    We both wore rings and they costed together about 150 Euro. My going to be husband bought them after we selected them together.
    Our marriage rings costed about 300 Euro, plain gold, no stone.
    I don’t see much use in jewelery, but the sewing machine he bought me on my first birthday we were together is still used frequently.
    I wouldn’t like to be married to a squanderer.

  • I’ve found that a lot of people are better off buying the ring online. Or at least buying the actual diamond from a wholesaler and then pairing it with a setting. You can get a $6K ring for $3K or less, easily. The retail prices are hyper-inflated.

  • Great article! I went through the shopping process last year. I had a budget in mind when I went into the store and it was probably about 2 months salary when all was said and done. However, I kept an open mind and was willing to go over the budget if needed to get the higher quality diamond.

    I hate to sound cheesy or corny, but what your fiancĂ©/future wife wants should be the main driver of it all. I wouldn’t want to miss out on getting the ring of her dreams because I was being frugal and wouldn’t spend the extra few dollars.

    I came close to having the family heirloom, but my sister had to beat me to the punch by getting married first. Boy would that have been nice!

    Love the article, thanks for sharing!


  • I actually wanted a moissanite engagement ring and have not regretted it once since I got engaged last September. I couldn’t justify spending $6k + on a diamond and also have some ethical problems with the diamond industry. It was the right choice for us.

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