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How Much Is Too Much for an Engagement Ring?

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You’re probably only going to buy an engagement ring once in your life, so it pays to get it right.

Buying your fiancée a fantastic engagement ring is something most people dream about. The right engagement ring signifies your love for them and your commitment to building a beautiful future together.

But how much is too much for an engagement ring?

Most people will tell you to spend around three months’ salary on an engagement ring. Of course, not everyone has the same budget, so you should spend some time thinking about how much you want to pay before walking into the jewelry store.

A pair of gold wedding rings.

Spending too much on an engagement ring is something that happens every day. People put rings on credit cards or take out loans to buy outsized rings outside their budgets.

Knowing how much to spend on a ring responsibly will start you and your fiancée off on the right foot without sacrificing your financial future.

Understanding the 3-Month rule

Do you know where the 3-month rule came from? Many people say it was an idea cooked up by diamond company marketers.

Presenting the 3-month rule to couples was a genius marketing move. It gave people a guideline on what to spend.

Marketers play on emotions and make people feel like they aren’t living up to expectations unless they spend a fourth of their annual income on a ring!

Now, however, there are different versions of the 3-month rule. People will argue over whether two or one month’s salary is acceptable, and they’ll argue if the number is based on gross or net income.

The first thing you should know when you’re thinking about budgets is that there are no rules.

It’s up to you and your fiancée. Your financial situation also plays a big part in deciding what type of ring to get.

wedding rings diamond rings

Deciding How Much to Spend

If you’ve got the money, spend as much as you want. Diamond rings are beautiful, and the right ring certainly makes a statement.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where people have financial obligations and limits on wallets.

Here’s what you should consider when setting a budget for the ring.

How Much You Make

Dollar sign, stack of coins and wedding ring on wooden table

Your salary now and in the future determines how much you can spend.

If you’re financing the ring, you need to know how many payments it will take and how much interest you’ll pay. That money could be going to student loans, a house, a car, or other assets, so at least you should make sure your payment makes sense.

Buying a ring that is a bit of a stretch is OK if you’re in your last year of law school at an Ivy League school or some other situation where you can confidently expect a significant salary increase.

Your Financial Situation

A lot of high-income earners are living paycheck to paycheck. How much money you make matters, but so does your overall financial picture.

You must avoid overspending on a ring if you’re already stretched thin. It will only make things worse.

The Ring’s Significance

A pair of gold wedding rings inside glass box with flower

Some people put more weight on an engagement ring than others.

There are plenty of people out there who don’t like flashy jewelry or diamonds at all. They may not want the ring that you want to give them.

On the other hand, plenty of people want as big of a ring as they can get. The larger the ring, the more you love them, or so they think.

You’ve got to manage your idea of a reasonable budget with your partner’s expectations.


You may be in a situation where you or your partner want to use a family heirloom as the engagement ring.

In these cases, your costs will be limited to resizing the ring, cleaning it, or changing it by adding a larger stone.

open wallet with dollar bills and a note showing spend wisely

Avoiding Irresponsible Spending

No matter what you plan on spending, the biggest concern is avoiding irresponsible spending. Too often, young couples and even established professionals go in way over their heads on a ring.

It would help if you remembered that people in jewelry stores work on commission. They are incentivized to get you to spend more money.

Many people report spending more in-store than they’d initially planned.

Avoid going over budget by shopping online or staying strictly within limits regarding the diamond’s size.

The last thing you want is to regret how much you spent on a ring, especially if your fiancee isn’t picky about the ring they get.

Using an Online Ring-Cost Calculator

Some decent calculators online help you decide how much money you should spend on a ring.

Before you use any calculator, consider the source. For instance, you may want to avoid ring cost calculators on jewelry websites that push people to spend more on a ring.

sackcloth money bag with loan inscription on green background

If You Must, Borrow

Ideally, you’re saving for months or even years for a lovely engagement ring. But not everyone benefits from a long relationship or that kind of foresight.

What should you do if you don’t have the money saved and want to purchase a ring? Sometimes, borrowing or financing your ring is the only option.

Financing a ring is the same as borrowing to pay for anything else. The longer it takes to pay it back, the more you end up paying.

Those interest charges rack up quickly, so paying them off must be a priority.

Here’s What You Need to Know

  • Pay for the Ring Within 12 Months – Don’t agree to terms longer than a year. This helps prevent excess interest charges and inflating the ring’s ultimate cost.
  • Downgrade the Ring – If you must finance, don’t swing for the fences on the ring. Buy something more realistic. You’ll end up thanking yourself down the road.
  • Walk Away – Don’t buy the ring on your first trip to the jewelry store. That way, you can see precisely how low the salespeople will go or what kind of accommodations they’ll make for you. Also, walking gives you time to think about it and prevents you from getting swept up in the buying process.
  • Look for a Deal on Financing – Some people will tell you to avoid in-store financing. However, all that really matters is getting the best terms. Call your credit card company to see if you can get a promotional rate. Talk to the store about different financing options. Remember, base all projected scenarios on one-year terms.
Man and woman choosing wedding rings in jewelry shop

Buying a Ring Both of You Will Love

Your fiancée will probably want a lovely engagement ring. But they won’t want you to get into money trouble to buy it.

Showing that you can make a responsible decision is an attractive feature.

Your money troubles will quickly become both of your problems once you’re married. Talk to each other about how much is enough and make a responsible decision.

Emphasize buying a meaningful ring that you and your partner will love for the rest of your lives. The right decision will help set both of you up for a bright future, free of heavy financial burdens.