As weddings have become more personalized to reflect the unique personalities and relationship of a couple, so have engagement rings.
And it’s not just the style of the ring that’s open to interpretation – setting, cut, stone, etc. – it’s how the ring gets picked and paid for too.
With so many different rules and expectations to consider, picking out the perfect ring (and deciding how to pay for it) can be overwhelming, confusing and downright frustrating.
How Much to Spend
What we do know is that Americans are spending more on engagement rings with each passing year – averaging $6,163 in 2016, according to The Knot’s 2016 Real Weddings Study. That’s up from an average of $5,871 in 2015.
These rising price tags can not only serve as financial stressors, they also have the potential to become relationship stressors.
With financial stress being a leading cause of divorce, spending more than you can afford on an engagement ring could spell trouble.
But how much is too much to spend and how do you align your partner’s expectations with your own financial means?
The old rule of thumb of spending one to three months’ salary on an engagement ring is no longer set in stone. For some, finding a ring that is perfect for you and your partner is far more important, as is weighing your respective financial realities.
If you’re worried about your job security or heavily in debt, be sure to take those factors into consideration.
Getting the Ring Together
In fact, with both partners increasingly contributing to the finances of a relationship, couples are beginning to make more decisions about their engagement together.
Brides.com reports that 62 percent of couples now go ring shopping together. This gives both partners an opportunity to weigh in on all aspects of the decision, from style—whether that means sticking with a traditional diamond or repurposing a family heirloom—to cost, including coming to a consensus on how much to spend and whether to split the cost and save for other important marital milestones.
The way couples ultimately choose an engagement ring can reflect their communication style and what kind of relationship they’ll have later on down the line.
For more traditional couples, one person may feel strongly that they want to pick out the ring and pay for it, and conversely, one person may want to be surprised and treated. It’s important to communicate and respect those desires.
Other couples may be more open to sharing the decision-making, enjoying the process of working as a team for what they want and need in all aspects of their relationship, including the engagement.
Either route can provide important insight into the future of the relationship and can make for a better connection between couples going forward.
Whatever you ultimately decide, communicating your expectations is key—even if not overtly. Communication through friends, family and loved ones, for example, sending over desired ring styles and potential price ranges, can serve as important guidance to the purchaser.
Once the style and sticker price are settled, it’s time to actually make the purchase – preferably in such a way that it doesn’t become a financial or relationship stressor.
While most jewelers offer in-store financing options to help reduce the often overwhelming upfront costs, these offers can come with strings attached – like promotional introductory rates of 0% for six to twelve months that can increase to 25% interest if the ring isn’t paid off in time.
A personal loan through an established lender can offer far more flexible loan repayment terms at secure and competitive interest rates – helping to keep your purchase manageable and well within your means.
So whether you go ring shopping in partnership with your future spouse or opt for the traditional route with a big, engagement surprise, you can create a plan for kick starting your life together in a way that’s easy, affordable and fits your unique style.