How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

TL;DR: Spend what you want to spend and can afford on an engagement ring. The two- to three-months’ salary rule is outdated and unrealistic. Plus, you can get some super stylish rings for a great price.

If you’re getting ready to get down on one knee, you’re probably thinking a whole lot about things like carats, settings and how to pop the question. And all of that takes cash. But how much are you supposed to spend on the big ring, exactly? We know figuring it all out can be super-stressful, but take a deep breath because we’ve got your back. In this guide, we’re going over all the finances of becoming a fiancé, from who pays for what to how to score the best, affordable engagement ring your future spouse will love.

  • stunning flatlay with new arrival engagement rings in gold

    What Most People Spend

    Let’s look at some averages to see how your budget stacks up. According to the latest study from The Knot, the average cost of an engagement ring is about $5,500, but averages vary widely by region, from over $7,500 in the mid-Atlantic area to $5,200 in the southeast. With that said, the study revealed that plenty of people are shelling out less for the rock — about a quarter of all respondents spent between $1,000 to $3,000 and another 11 percent spent less than $1,000. The takeaway? It’s by no means a requirement to spend a fortune to get down on one knee, though plenty of people do.

    What’s the Average Cost of a Man’s Wedding Band?

The Two-Months’ Salary Rule and Why It’s So 100 Years Ago

If you’ve been researching how much to spend on an engagement ring, you’ve probably come across the oft-repeated two-to-three months’ salary rule. Essentially, this tradition says that you should shell out two or three entire months of pay for the engagement ring. So, if you’re bringing home $3,000 per month, that means you should spend somewhere between $3,000 and $9,000 on the ring.

  • model wearing rose gold vintage engagement ring

    Here’s the thing, though. Like many old-fashioned financial tidbits, this piece of advice was born out of a totally different economic era. In fact, this “rule” traces its roots back to an ad by the De Beers diamond company from the 1930s. “How can you make two months’ salary last forever?” it mused. For the past 90-something years, proposers of all walks of life have taken this suggestion as dogma regardless of how much money they make.

    Shop Beautiful Yet Affordable Engagement Rings

No, You Don’t Have to Spend That Much

But here’s the thing: Back then, things were a bit easier financially. Since 1930, the cost of living has skyrocketed. Houses, tuition, transportation and groceries were much more aligned with what the average individual brought home in the old days. In other words, prices were set so that people weren’t forced to live above their means. 

For example, in 1930, the average annual wage was only around $2,000, but the average cost of a new home was around $3,800 and the average cost of a new car was $600. Today, the average annual wage is around $50,000, but the average cost of a new home is around $266,000 and the average cost of a new car is around $37,000. Clearly, your dollars don’t go quite as far as they did when this ad debuted.

Imagine being able to buy a new car and a new home for around two years’ worth of work. Unfortunately, that’s far from the reality for many Americans today, which is why the idea of spending two or three months of pay on a ring seems so absurd. Indeed, spending multiple months of pay is simply not the best financial decision for many people. So, short answer: Nope, you don’t have to — and perhaps shouldn’t — spend two or three months of pay on an engagement ring.

Why Do Men Feel the Need to Buy Expensive Engagement Rings?
  • beautiful emerald cut engagement ring with promise gold wedding band

    So How Much Should You Spend?

    Setting a budget for your engagement ring is a very personal thing and one that cannot be determined by anyone but you. Luckily, you can find plenty of stylish and affordable engagement rings that don’t break the bank. Thanks to the rise of simulated diamond gemstones, you can get on one knee with a show-stopping proposal ring that rings up for less than $100. Simulated diamonds are made to look and shine like real diamonds, so much so that most of the time, it’s hard to tell the difference between a real diamond and a simulated one! So, finding a beautiful rock should not be a challenge regardless of your budget.

Ultimately, what you’re comfortable paying is totally up to you. According to personal finance advisor Dave Ramsey, a good rule of thumb if you have a full-time job is to not exceed one month of pay on the engagement ring. “Lots of people get married on a very cheap ring, and it lasts very well,” he said recently on his radio show

You’ll need to think through your unique scenario, preferences and financial standing before settling on a budget. Some questions to ask yourself when budgeting for the engagement ring include:

  • Are you willing to go into debt to pay for the engagement ring?
  • Are you willing to forgo certain things, like a vacation or a few months without eating out, to pay for the engagement ring?
  • Can you make room in your overall wedding budget to pay for the ring by doing away with the honeymoon or certain extras?
  • Is paying for the engagement ring stressing you out to the point where you can’t focus on more important aspects of the wedding and marriage?
  • Are you open to splitting the cost of the ring with your spouse-to-be if they are OK with that?
  • Are you factoring in things like insurance, shipping and sizing when shopping for a traditional engagement ring? Note: Much of that is taken care of when you shop through Modern Gents.
  • couple proposal with silver engagement ring in ring box by beach

    Who Pays for the Engagement Ring?

    Traditionally speaking, the proposer — historically a man — purchases the ring for the proposee — historically a woman. But, as we all know, wedding norms are more optional than anything these days, as we’ve seen a huge rise in same-sex engagements and female-to-male proposals. So the old idea of “the man buys the ring for the woman” is, quite frankly, outdated.

    On top of that, studies show that more and more couples are doing the engagement ring shopping and paying together. In fact, something like 20 percent of brides pay for the ring themselves and even more pay for a portion of it. Ultimately, whether you go the traditional route — man pays for and surprises woman with the ring — or shake it up completely is totally up to you. 

The bottom line: Do what’s right for you and your relationship, not what you’re supposed to do because of societal pressures and norms that are often totally arbitrary.

Who Buys the Man's Wedding Band?

Talk to Your Spouse to Be

One important thing to remember before shelling out any amount of money on the ring is that you should talk to your partner about your budget before you go spending any amount. Your spouse-to-be probably has a strong opinion on the matter. Perhaps they want a high-cost ring made of big, expensive stones. On the other hand, they might find that shelling out a ton of cash is a waste of money. Both are valid viewpoints that you need to consider regardless of your own opinion.

Scoring an Affordable Engagement Ring

We hope we’ve given you the permission you need to save your cash and keep your ring budget on the more modest side. If that’s the route you decide to take, make sure you keep a few key things in mind when shopping for the big but budget-friendly ring. Here’s what to know:

Affordable Doesn’t Mean Cheap

 Like anything in life, there are tiers to consider when shopping for budget engagement rings. You can choose from all kinds of options:  From a flimsy gumball machine ring to a precious metal beauty that trades the high-cost diamond for an equally gorgeous (yet much more affordable) simulated gem. Here’s what to look for in a high-quality yet economical engagement ring:

  • stunning pov with silver vintage engagement ring on ladies hand
    • Simulated Diamonds – Simulated diamonds are essentially man-made diamond stones to have the same gorgeous sparkle and dimension as the “real” thing. But they have a couple of key benefits. Namely, they don’t come with the same ethical conflict as traditionally mined diamonds and, most importantly, they ring up for a fraction of the cost.
    • Sterling Silver – Sterling silver is a high-quality, long-lasting material that will stay in great shape for years to come. Since it costs significantly less than your standard gold or platinum, it’s a great choice to consider for your budget-friendly engagement ring.
    • Titanium or Tungsten  – Titanium and tungsten are two alternative precious metals often used in mens’ wedding bands because they’re extremely strong yet affordable. Because of this, they’re becoming more and more popular in engagement ring design as well.
    Tungsten vs. Titanium: Which Ring Is Best for You?
    • Rhodium Plating – Make sure to select a ring that has been coated in a rhodium plating to prevent tarnishing and ensure that the ring looks gorgeous for a lifetime. Sterling silver coated in rhodium is nickel-free and won’t turn your finger green.
  • stunning flatlay with rose gold, silver, and gold engagement rings and necklaces

    Start Small and Affordable 

    Remember that the ring that you present on one knee isn’t necessarily the ring your partner will wear forever, so don’t feel “married” to it, so to speak. Consider opting for an affordable proposal ring as a sort of temporary solution that’s still special. Once your partner-to-be says yes — or once you’ve saved up enough money to get the ring of their dreams — you can swap it out for something more special.

Go for a Set and Save Cash

If you’re looking at budget-friendly engagement rings, you’re probably going to want to think about wedding rings for the big ceremony as well. If you plan to spend less on the wedding bands, you may find some extra wiggle room in the budget for the engagement ring. You may also consider buying a set of affordable wedding rings up-front so you have both rings in hand and don’t wind up spending way more down the road.

Browse Wedding Ring Sets for Sale

Set an Overall Wedding Budget

It’s important to take a look at the average cost of other wedding essentials when determining what to spend on the ring. This will help you set an overall wedding budget and account for the rings within it. Determine things like its size and guestlist, the cost of the venue, your dress budget and your honeymoon budget before you determine how much to spend on the engagement ring. Additionally, when you choose to save on engagement rings and wedding bands, that money saved can be put towards other things you want to save up for. Maybe you can put that money towards an epic honeymoon or a down payment on a new car or house! Whatever ring budget you decide on, know that you have beautiful options to choose from, no matter what the price!  

Remember What It’s All About

At the end of the day, the most important thing to do when shopping for engagement rings and setting a budget is to always remember what the whole process is all about: the love between you and your partner. At Modern Gents, we’re here to help you put a ring on it in the way that makes the most sense for you and which honors your love to perfection. Be sure to explore all of our engagement rings for a style that does just that without breaking the bank.

Are Cheap Engagement Rings Bad? We Set the Record Straight