Why It May Be a Mistake to Spend Big Money on an Engagement Ring

diamond engagement ring

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Thinking about proposing to your girlfriend? Get ready to fork over some serious cash. The average guy spent $5,855 on an engagement ring for his bride-to-be in 2014, according to wedding website The Knot. A few big spenders may be driving that number upward (most Americans think that $2,311 is a more reasonable amount to spend, according to a 2014 survey by American Express), but any way you slice it, an engagement ring is often a big purchase.

Yet heading to the jewelry store with the idea that you need to drop thousands of dollars on a sparkly rock isn’t a smart way to start the hunt for the perfect ring, say experts. Neither is setting a budget based on your one-month or three-months salary (both commonly cited guidelines).

“I’ve never been a fan of following any hard and fast rules when it comes to any type of purchase or investment, so I do not think it makes sense to follow the three-months salary rule,” David Bakke, a personal finance expert with MoneyCrashers, told The Cheat Sheet. “You should do your homework and choose an amount that makes sense for you based on your personal situation.”

So, if you’re flying high right now and have cash to burn, feel free to splurge, provided you’ve educated yourself about what to look for in a diamond (the 4Cs: cut, clarity, color, and carat). But if your job situation is shaky or you have a lot of debt, set your ring budget accordingly. Likewise if your future fiancé is more budget-minded. “If your future spouse is of a savings mindset, dropping a ton of cash on an engagement ring might come off as reckless,” warned Bakke.

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