Deciding to get married is one of the most significant life choices people ever make. However, while choosing a significant other to share your life with is exciting, it can be a little bit scary as well. There are so many decisions to make, and a million different things to consider. Unfortunately, there’s one thing that people don’t immediately consider when proposing marriage: wedding costs.
Getting married can be expensive. The average wedding in the United States costs over $26,000 these days; in fact, in some places, such as Manhattan, a typical wedding can cost over $40,000! One of the first things you’ll have to buy when preparing to get married is an engagement ring. Engagement rings are extremely important; after all, the ring is and will remain a symbol of your love and commitment to your significant other. However, engagement rings can be quite expensive, too, and it can often be confusing to try to choose the right one.
So, how do you choose a good engagement ring for your significant other, and still have money left for the wedding, the honeymoon, and everything thereafter? Let’s look at how to buy the perfect engagement ring, without going into debt.
Make a Plan
A critical component of any wedding plan is the budget. Before your significant other and you map out all the details of your marriage, you’ll need a general idea of how much you can realistically spend on it all. A key question in this matter will be how much you believe you can spend on the engagement ring. Since you buy the ring upfront, this is an extremely important consideration, since it’ll affect the funds you can commit to things such as the rehearsal dinner, the reception, the honeymoon, and other parts of the wedding.
So, how much do rings typically set you back? According to a 2017 survey, the average engagement ring costs $6,351. While that figure may be far outside your current earning power and budget, it provides an idea of how much you have to think about financially when you decide to pop the question. In any case, once you’ve determined how much money you’re going to commit to an engagement ring, you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Start Saving and Plan to Pay in Cash if You Can
One of the best ways to stay out of debt when buying an engagement ring is to forego debt altogether with this purchase and just pay cash. Many of the typical financing options for engagement rings charge high-interest rates; jewelers and department stores may offer good initial terms, such as six months same as cash, but they often jack up the interest rates after the brief grace period ends. If you choose to finance your engagement ring purchase, you may wind up paying significantly more on the ring than you originally intended due to those high rates. So, avoid interest expenses, card fees, and a year of high monthly payments by buying your engagement ring with cash instead.
Once you determine how much you want to spend on an engagement ring, start saving up for it. Consider opening a new savings account to save cash toward your engagement ring purchase. This will help you stay focused on your plan and will likely allow you to save the funds faster than you would without a separate account. After you purchase the ring, you can continue using this account to help save money for other wedding expenses.
If cash isn’t an option right now – perhaps time is of the essence for the engagement, or you otherwise have expenses that currently won’t allow you to save enough money for the purchase – you should still attempt to avoid financing your engagement ring with store credit. Instead, consider getting a new credit card with a low introductory rate. The introductory period on these cards often lasts longer than those the stores offer. However, ensure you check the terms prior to choosing a card.
Conduct Your Research
Unless you’re a jeweler, or have been married before, you probably have little to no knowledge when it comes to engagement rings; don’t worry, you can catch up quick. As soon as you decide you’re going to purchase a ring, you should start doing research to help guide your purchase. The best place to start your research is with your significant other.
Try to determine what type of ring your intended spouse likes. Consider a casual detour into a jewelry store while out at a mall, or innocuously perusing rings online. You can often elicit feedback on exactly the kind of ring your significant other does or doesn’t want by doing things like this. If you want to be more surreptitious to keep the planned engagement a surprise, you can talk to your intended spouse’s close friends and family members about the type of ring you should be looking at.
You may find out that your significant other has no interest in a diamond engagement ring at all, and instead wants something much simpler and less expensive. Alternatively, your research may also indicate that your beloved wants an entirely different type of stone, or a unique setting. In any case, once you have a clear idea of what type of engagement ring your intended partner is interested in, you’ll be ready to start searching.
When it comes to actually shopping for an engagement ring, the key word is compare. Don’t just settle on the first ring you find that meets your requirements; shop around at numerous places to find the best price you can on the engagement ring you want. Comparison shopping will save you money in the end and can help ensure you’re satisfied with whatever ring you ultimately buy.
Shop at nearby jewelry stores first when starting out in your search. Jewelry stores will let you compare rings side by side, which will help you further refine your search for the perfect ring. You’ll also have an opportunity to determine how much the rings you’re potentially interested in will cost. Additionally, jewelers may be willing to provide you a discount on an engagement ring if you plan to buy your wedding bands at the same establishment as well. If there are reputable pawn shops in your area, you can consider shopping there as well. Many pawn shops specialize in jewelry, and you may be able to find the ring you want at a heavily discounted price.
As you go from store to store, take pictures of the various engagement rings you look at, and record each ring’s price as well. Start a written list or use your phone to keep track of all this information, along with where you saw the ring; if you don’t write everything down, you might forget what you looked at later on. Additionally, you’ll be able to use the record you made of all your shopping trips when you start to narrow down the rings of interest.
Prior to making your purchase, consider comparing online engagement ring prices as well. You may be able to find a better deal on an engagement ring from a trusted site on the internet than you ever could at a local store. Amazon, for example, has thousands of engagement rings available to consider. You can also shop for rings on eBay, and you may find great prices on the types of rings you’re interested in. However, it’s truly caveat emptor (buyer beware) any time you shop for an engagement ring online; make sure you read the reviews or user feedback on a ring or the seller before you decide to make a purchase.
A final word of advice prior to making the big purchase: try to find a jeweler you can trust. Perhaps your family or close friends know or have worked with a jeweler for a long time and can provide you some advice with purchasing the engagement ring. Even if you don’t plan to purchase your ring from that particular jeweler, having someone you can rely upon for expert advice and opinions can help you avoid common mistakes and pick the best engagement ring for the money. If you’re satisfied with the support the jeweler gives you during this process, you can consider purchasing your wedding bands or some other piece of jewelry from the store later on.
Once you settle on the ring you want, buy it using the purchase plan you made earlier.
Alternatives to Purchasing an Engagement Ring
An important consideration when it comes to choosing the perfect diamond engagement ring is whether you even have to buy one at all. Perhaps you don’t have the money to buy the engagement ring you want for your spouse right now; or maybe, thanks to family traditions, you have other options to an expensive purchase. Here are two potential alternatives you may have to using debt to purchase an engagement ring right now.
1. The heirloom option
Some families have traditions of passing on heirloom jewelry such as engagement rings from one generation to the next. Perhaps you can take advantage of one of these traditions on your side of the family or that of your significant other and make use of an engagement ring that has been in the family for a very long time. In many cases, the quality of such a ring, and the sentimental history it embodies, are more valuable than any new ring you could possibly buy in a jewelry store.
Even if an heirloom ring isn’t at the quality level you desire, you may still be able to make use of it in one form or another. Perhaps the diamond is perfect but the ring setting leaves something to be desired; if your family permits it, you can have a jeweler place the stone in a new ring. Similarly, if you don’t like the diamond, you may be able to choose a new one and place it in the original heirloom setting. Doing so will enable you to carry on a family tradition with a treasured heirloom, and it’ll likely save you several hundred dollars while doing so, too.
2. The stand-in ring
If you don’t have the money right now to purchase the type of engagement ring you want and think your significant other deserves, then don’t. Instead, buy an inexpensive ring – costume jewelry perhaps – that you both like for right now, and then replace it with a more fitting and pricier engagement ring later on, when you have the money.
Alternatively, another option along this route is to build a ring as you go. Purchase a simple, inexpensive engagement ring that you can currently afford right now. As your finances improve, you can continue adding things, such as a larger stone, companion diamonds, an additional band, engravings, and the like to make the ring more impressive. Either of these options can help you demonstrate your commitment to your intended partner while at the same time avoiding heavy debt you’ll have to deal with for a long time after you actually get married.
Stay Out of Debt When You Buy That Ring!
You don’t have to go in debt when it comes time to buy an engagement ring. In fact, since you have so many other things to plan for when it comes to getting married, such as the ceremony, the reception, the honeymoon, and everything that comes afterward, you definitely shouldn’t go into debt when you purchase that ring. In fact, you should look at ways to save throughout your wedding, not just on the engagement ring. Consider the advice offered in this article as you start planning to pop the question. It can help guide you in finding the perfect engagement ring and save you serious cash when it’s time to buy it. Avoiding debt when you buy an engagement ring will help you demonstrate your lifelong commitment to your significant other; it’ll also help set a precedent for sound financial planning that’ll strengthen your relationship in the months and years to come.