The time leading up to getting engaged can be exciting — and filled with what might be some big decisions. One of the biggest considerations when it comes to buying an engagement ring is deciding how much money to spend. While the cost will impact on the size, cut, and clarity of the ring itself, there are no hard and fast rules regarding what the budget should be.

Tradition previously dictated that a certain percentage of a person’s salary would decide the budget, but as experts reveal, that’s not necessarily the case anymore. Here’s everything you need to know about buying an engagement ring — from how much you should spend to securing the funds for your important purchase.

Salary Is No Longer The Deciding Factor

Once upon a time, the amount of money a person earned automatically determined how much they were meant to spend on an engagement ring. Whether or not they spent the exact amount was, of course, up to them, but it used to be a rough guide used when determining the price range for the ring itself.

But this is no longer the case, as wedding planner Kelly Mortimer tells Discover. “The salary rules have been well and truly left on the shelf,” she says.

While this new method of selecting a ring changes the financial expectations and no longer stipulates that a certain amount of salary be used to purchase one, it has the potential to make the decision even harder. Because how much should you actually spend?

Prices May Vary

The amount a person spends on an engagement ring in the U.S. can be costly. In fact, NerdWallet places the average at around $5,598, which could be a hefty price tag for many, especially as they’re saving for the wedding itself. While the cost range is fairly broad, it’s clear that a large number of people are spending a significant amount of money.

As with most wedding expenses, budgeting is key. Bespoke engagement ring designer Lucy Chenoweth of Bloody Mary Metal tells Discover that costs can vary greatly, but money shouldn’t detract from the ultimate goal. Chenoweth says, “We offer beautiful, affordable pieces as part of our engagement collection, right up to bespoke, one-of-a-kind pieces that can cost anywhere from $500 to upward of $10,000!” And where you fall within this range is a personal — and financial — consideration.

Millennials Are Changing the Game When It Comes to Getting Engaged

Mortimer reveals that the previous rules regarding engagements no longer apply. “Times are changing and millennials are ditching the diamonds!” she says.

Mortimer also says that many couples are opting to shop for the ring together rather than relying on a surprise proposal. “Couples are shopping together for the perfect piece, and colorful stones have become a girl’s new best friend,” he says. The rules are there to be bent, from the recommended cost to the style of the ring itself.

But Stick to Your Original Budget

It’s easy to get wooed in a jewelry store, especially when confronted by so many gorgeous rings. However, it’s important to stick to a budget you originally set for the purchase. As NerdWallet suggests, “Set a ceiling for the maximum amount you can realistically spend. If you’re afraid you’ll cave in the moment, browse before you buy. Take a day or two to think about the purchase before you commit.” When you’re making such a major financial commitment, it can be crucial that you’ve thought through everything — from the cost of the purchase to the ring choice itself.

“We would always recommend that if you are shopping within a budget, be honest about the budget and stick within it. After all, it is not about how much you spend but the meaning behind the ring,” says Chenoweth.

NerdWallet also reminds readers to “spend only what’s comfortable for you.” It might be hard to resist buying your sweetheart the biggest diamond in the store — but remember overspending now may lead to unnecessary financial stress later.

Now, go forth and get that perfect ring. You’ve got this.

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