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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all!

I am new to this forum so forgive my ignorance if this subject has been discussed at length on this site already. I am currently shopping for an engagement ring and am highly frustrated with how much these little "ornaments" cost. Honestly it seems like that money is better spent paying down debt or investing for the future. However, I know that the ring serves as a symbol of my love and commitment to the woman I plan to marry. The big question now is... how much do I budget for a engagement ring and wedding band set? I believe that two months of income is ridiculous (Dave Ramsey suggests no more than one month). Budgeting one month of income seems somewhat reasonable until I think about what percentage of my total cash assets that is. Below is a summary of my financial situation. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

House: Own with a 30 year mortgage @ 4.875% (payment with escrow is ~20% of my net pay).
Debt: None (other than the mortgage).
Employment: Full time with a salary of $61,000 (before taxes).
Total cash on hand: $30,000
Monthly net income: $3,856 ($5,083 gross)

$3,856 doesn't buy much of a diamond ring. Even so, that tiny little ring (that she will probably upgrade in five years anyway) would cost more than 10% of my TOTAL AVAILABLE CASH!!! When considering the cost of an engagement ring, does 10% of total available cash seem like too much?

Thanks!
 

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I have no idea...I'm not the best person to ask. I picked out a 99.00 wedding band when DH and I went shopping for rings. He could well afford MUCH more, but I'm just not into bling. Have you discussed with HER what she would like? I have never understood the *The bigger the ring the more you must love her* theory....I personlly don't need a piece of jewelry to represent that. But...I've been told I'm very weird.

And, I can't imagine 3800 doesn't buy much of a ring???
 

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Our rings cost 500 for both. No engagement ring. I get compliments all the time because it's not the typical ring. White and rose gold with a few little diamonds.

I would say not to get too caught up on how much you should spend, but truly liking the ring. Jewelry is marked up sooooo much. Shop around for the best deal as well.

I never understood the expensive rings or jewelry thing...maybe I'm weird too.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the reply Stinkbug.

I should note that I am trying to completely surprise her with a proposal. I don't want to ask any questions that could indicate that I am about to propose. I know she will enjoy the whole proposal experience alot more if she had no idea it was about to happen. She is a great woman and not at all a "gold digger." Ultimately she will be happy with whatever I get her. At the same time, I want to spend an appropriate amount that is representative of my commitment level but not financially irresponsible.

I do know that she isn't a fan of a simple solitaire ring. The ring I picture on her hand has a band with pave set diamonds and maybe a halo arrangement around the primary stone. I want to get her something that is of decent quality as well. Not bottom of the barrel (yellow) stones, but not the flawless way overpriced stuff either. A decent quality 0.7 carat diamond costs roughly $2500. That stone still has to have a mount (with tiny stones in it), get mounted, and I have to buy a wedding band (or wrap) to go with it. All that adds up rather quickly to $5,000 or more in most cases. I could go with a smaller stone, but the 0.7 already seems so small.

This will likely boil down to a gut decision in a store as to what I should get. I just wanted to pose the question of what percentage of a man's total cash assets shouldn't be exceeded when looking at purchasing an engagement ring? This is definitely a matter of opinion which is why I decided to ask a frugal audience.

Thanks again for your reply!
 

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Price out rings at local shops rather than chain jewelry stores. Is she set on having diamonds? My DH designed my ring with diamonds and sapphires and it gorgeous!
 

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well, I got you all beat - $35 for a gold wedding band, no engagement ring, and I paid for it myself, although DH and I were pooling our money at that point.

Are you sure you can pick out something she will like? Some guys propose first and pick out a ring together afterwards.

Have you thought about a vintage ring? Some of them are beautiful.

I never believed the "2 months salary" rule, especially since it is the DIAMOND industry who came up with it. Kind of self-serving.
 

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IMHO, an engagement ring does not show commitment, just how much you are willing to spend. Commitment in my eyes is the 40+ years I've been married to the same woman. And she didn't want an engagement ring.
 

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I'm in agreement with those who suggest letting her pick out her own ring, unless you're absolutely sure you know what her taste is. My husband has the worst taste in jewelry and used to buy me things his mother, who adored all jewelry as long as it was completely hideous, would have worn. I finally got him to quit buying me jewelry because it was a waste to spend money on something I would not wear in this lifetime or any other. It's the thought that counts, but unfortunately I couldn't wear the beautiful thoughts behind his purchases of ugly jewelry.

Agree that the size of the ring does not prove commitment. I don't understand the phrase 'level of commitment' either. IMO, it seems like if you're not 100% committed, you shouldn't get married, and the size of the stones in the ring don't have anything to do with that. There aren't 'levels' of commitment, there is only 100%. The proposal itself should demonstrate that you are totally committed.

I don't know if there is some kind of token gift one gives during the proposal, in cases where the guy wants to have his intended pick out her own ring. Anyone know how that situation is handled? It seems like that could be something that could be set up in such a way to make the proposal completely unique and very memorable, but I don't have any idea if there is a 'right' way to do it or not.

As far as a budget for the ring, I think it comes down to what you are comfortable spending.

Whatever you decide, I wish you good luck. It sounds like you've found someone very special to you.
 

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I took my first ring back and bought one on sale for $179 and then got m $19.99 band. With the remaining cash from returning it the whole house got new wardrobes and a vacation. MyDh didn't realize I didn't want a flashy ring until I told him. Now that I have Dave Ramsey in my life I am so glad we took the first one back.
 

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Maybe you could use something symbolic to propose to her, and then say you'd like her involved in picking out a ring that she will love and cherish forever. Then you guys can discuss prices, financial priorities, style etc after the proposal and before you go ring shopping.

Heard some cute stories about strings, socket sets, tinfoil used in place of the official ring....use your imagination. Maybe a ring pop? :)

If you make the proposal meaningful it won't matter there's no diamond on her hand at the moment....she has a cute story to tell people and I think she'll appreciate the ring more knowing its something you both picked.

Then if you both fall in love with that 3800 ring, you both love it...and it won't hurt as much paying that amount.
 

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Find out if it's important to her.

It WAS important to me and we spent around $15k on mind and another $2500 on his.

Don't let others determine what is a personal decision.
 

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~You can get a very pretty place-holder ring, like this one:
That's cubic zirconia and sterling and less than $50 but should have a fantastic effect. Then let her pick out what she really wants. Depending on the frugality of your intended, the placeholder may do very well until the wedding and you can spend a little more on the wedding band.
Engagement rings were never important to me. I don't even wear a wedding band. But my DH wanted me to have an engagement ring. I told him I wanted a pale pink emerald cut stone with a silver band, I didn't care if it was cubic zirconia, pink sapphire or pink diamond. I'm no connoisseur and probably would not be able to tell much difference. I showed him pictures. We saw them in person. He still let the dealer talk him into a round white diamond solitaire. I hate it, always have and I never wear it. The thought behind something only really counts when you balanced your thought into what she actually likes. If she's shown you pictures or said what she likes, GET THAT! ~
 

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I think Nuisance has nailed it. Perfect solution! You get the surprise of giving her a pretty ring, and she still gets to pick one out herself. And the 'place holder' would be nice enough to wear at those times she may not want to have thousands of dollars in jewelry on her hand for various reasons.

I hesitate to mention this because wedding and engagement rings have so much emotional stuff attached to them, but have you thought about checking at a pawn shop? We never bought wedding rings there, but I've bought a lot of other jewelry there and you get a lot more bang, er, bling for your buck. If you find the right pawn, they'll even dicker on the price. Our favorite pawn would usually come down 1/3 on the price. I'm sure others vary, and the chains probably don't negotiate at all.

There, I've said it. It's a viable alternative, but I realize it's not for everyone.
 

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Try and find out if she wants an engagement ring in the first place. Try and find out if she even likes diamonds. She may be perfectly happy with a sapphire or an emerald. Remember that the ring is a token, a symbol, and whether it is a $50k rock or a $50 zirconia it is the ritual of the gesture that is important not the actual object.

You don't need to start off married life in debt because one of you has false expectations about how much you 'should' be spending. What do you feel comfortable spending?

I agree with the above poster that very nice 'vintage' rings can be found in pawn shops and small jewelery stores that handle estate jewelery. You can get her something more unique.

Personally, I didn't need a diamond, and I knew my fiance was cash strapped so we skipped it. We went and picked out matching wedding bands at a local (not chain) jeweler. I think at the time (13 years ago) they were under $100. I got a very nice tanzanite set with diamonds for our 10 year anniversary which is what I would have wanted as an engagement ring.
 

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I love the idea of a "place holder" too.

I'm not into the flash and bling either and it took me a while to convince Greebo that I did not need titanium or gold but lovely old sterling. I have a favorite artisan jeweler who sells at the local Renaissance Festival (one of our first dates) and we found a matching set of wedding braids and a small, low profile Celtic knot ring for my engagement. I LOVE THEM. They truly represent ME.

I vote for finding something wonderful that she can wear, tell stories about to her girlfriends and to her family for future years. She will remember it more than being "surprised" by something she wouldn't want to wear or feel bad about having to return.

As for cost... discuss it with her. Being on the same financial page as your spouse can and will make the future brighter, clearer and longer lasting.

And Congratulations!!!
 

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the placeholder idea is lovely..

the ring depends on the woman..my diamond is 1/2 carot solitaire best quality but small ring.. I love it..he got a deal on it.

ask her sister or best friend to go with u to pick it out... or take her to the store and drop on 1 knee and ask her... I think 1 month salary is fine..

good luck and congrats
 
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I'm another woman who got to pick my own wedding ring. DH surprised me with the proposal and gave me a date (5 days later) that we'd go ring shopping because he wasn't 100% sure what I like. He did have a $$ limit, but didn't tell me what it was. I came in under it.

I wanted a diamond solitaire in yellow gold, very traditional, and I wear it all the time. I am so glad I got to pick it out rather than letting DH do it. I ended up with a 1/2 carat of really high quality. I'm a small person with small hands, and while I tried on several 1 carat rings they all looked too large on me, like they were fakes.

I also agree with whoever said spend the money if it's important to you as a couple. While many people on here didn't need an engagement ring or just picked a cubic zirconia or whatever, it was important to both of us that I had a diamond that I liked. Yes, I realize that the money could have been put towards bettering our financial decision.

FWIW, my ring cost $2400 although DH told me later he would have gone up to $3500. He was making 58K at the time and had a large car loan and a hefty amount of CC debt, no house or real assets.
 

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I'm another woman who got to pick my own wedding ring. DH surprised me with the proposal and gave me a date (5 days later) that we'd go ring shopping because he wasn't 100% sure what I like. He did have a $$ limit, but didn't tell me what it was. I came in under it.

I wanted a diamond solitaire in yellow gold, very traditional, and I wear it all the time. I am so glad I got to pick it out rather than letting DH do it. I ended up with a 1/2 carat of really high quality. I'm a small person with small hands, and while I tried on several 1 carat rings they all looked too large on me, like they were fakes.

I also agree with whoever said spend the money if it's important to you as a couple. While many people on here didn't need an engagement ring or just picked a cubic zirconia or whatever, it was important to both of us that I had a diamond that I liked. Yes, I realize that the money could have been put towards bettering our financial decision.

FWIW, my ring cost $2400 although DH told me later he would have gone up to $3500. He was making 58K at the time and had a large car loan and a hefty amount of CC debt, no house or real assets.
So according to the DeBeers people, he should have spent 2 months salary or about $10,000 on your ring.

The only thing more ridiculous than them coming up with their "formula", is them getting people to believe it.

Your ring sounds lovely, if I was going to have one it would be something very similar. I have fond memories of my mom's solitaire ring, which no one knows what happened to it after she passed.
 

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I think it comes down to knowing your partner and how important the ring is (or is not) to her. For me, the ring was/is very important. Since the intent is to wear it daily for the rest of my life, I wanted a beautiful, high quality ring that fit my personal style. My partner skipped the element of surprise and got my input on preferences. We visited several jewelers together so that he could really see what I was drawn to. In the end, he picked the ring on his own, saved his pennies, paid cash, and surprised me with an absolutely beautiful ring several months after our "research" trips. He did a fabulous job.
 

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I am so glad I got to pick it out rather than letting DH do it. I ended up with a 1/2 carat of really high quality. I'm a small person with small hands, and while I tried on several 1 carat rings they all looked too large on me, like they were fakes.
~Yes, this was another issue I has with the ring DH chose. It's a 3/4 carat solitaire on my scrawny little sized 4 finger. The times I did wear it, it constantly loped over and cut my pinky finger. Scale is important and something the person wearing the ring will best know.~
 
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