A marriage proposal is a milestone moment that can sweep you up in a flurry of joy. Before asking “the big question,” however, it’s a good idea to set aside time (and money) for engagement planning. One major expense to consider is the cost of an engagement ring.
Everyone’s definition of a “perfect” engagement ring is different, and since price points vary widely depending on the ring you choose and other factors, it’s important to decide on a budget. Fortunately, you don’t need to go into debt to purchase a ring that will make a statement. Saving for an engagement ring that’s worthy of the occasion is possible with a few smart strategies.
How much do engagement rings cost?
When it comes to buying an engagement ring, many factors influence pricing. For example, if you choose to buy a diamond ring, a diamond’s “four C’s” — carat, cut, clarity, and color — affect the cost. Other details that affect pricing include the metal setting you choose (e.g., gold, platinum, etc.), where you buy the ring, and your region.
The rule of thumb that an engagement ring should cost up to three months’ salary may be antiquated, according to a 2019 Engagement and Jewelry Study by The Knot. The study found that the average cost of an engagement ring is $5,900. However, regionally, the average cost of a ring varied greatly, with Mid-Atlantic proposers spending an average of $7,500 and Midwest ring buyers spending $5,300.
6 smart ways to save for an engagement ring
1. Decide which ring you want to purchase
When saving for an engagement ring, a good first step is to decide what qualities you’re looking for in the ring so you can establish a realistic budget. The Knot reported that 80% of proposers set a budget before buying a ring, but of that group, 70% found it challenging to stay within budget, and 23% exceeded their budget.
Knowing the style, approximate details of the four Cs you’d want (if applicable), and where you plan on buying the ring can help you determine a hard number or budget range that you’re comfortable with.
Window shopping at a local jeweler and online can give you more clarity about how much your desired ring might cost. From there, compare your findings with your original budget. If what you were originally looking for is outside of your budget, consider what areas of your ring — for example, carat size or metal type — can be adjusted so you’re left with a ring and price you can feel confident about.
2. Develop a timeline
Once you know which ring you want and have a budget, you’ll want to calculate how much you’ll need to save each month to reach your goal. There are two ways to go about this calculation.
The first is if you need to save for a ring by a hard date. For example, let’s say you know you want to propose to your partner while on an upcoming vacation that’s 11 months away, and your budget is $3,500. Divide $3,500 by 11 months and you’ll find you need to save about $318 each month for the next 11 months to purchase your ring.
If you have a flexible proposal date, your savings timeline is a bit more flexible, as well. In this case, it’s helpful to determine how much money you can commit to saving for an engagement ring each month. For example, if your budget is $5,000 and you’re able to save $350 per month, it’ll take about 14 months to reach your savings goal.
If the timeline you’re left with isn’t what you hoped for, you still have options. You can either adjust your ring preferences to lower your budget or find ways to increase your savings (more on this shortly).
3. Open a high-yield savings account
A high-yield savings account can be a good option to boost your short-term savings. These deposit accounts operate like a standard savings account but offer a higher APY.
Some of these accounts don’t charge a maintenance fee, but typically require you to maintain a specific balance to earn dividends. Over the months, you’ll earn returns just by putting money away for an engagement ring in a high-yield account.
Opening a separate high-yield savings account when you’re saving for an engagement ring can also help you keep that money from other savings, like an emergency fund. This way, you don’t inadvertently spend your rainy day savings on a ring.
4. Reduce your spending
Review your monthly expenses to see where you can cut back for the short-term. Start with high-impact spendings, like a luxury fitness membership or your dining out budget. Remember, this strategy is mainly necessary during the timeline you’ve set.
An easy way to determine how you spend the bulk of your discretionary funds is using a free budgeting tool, like Mint. After linking your bank and credit accounts, Mint can help you identify your highest spending categories so you can see where you can cut back.
5. Sell some stuff
If you haven’t picked-up on Marie Kondo’s philosophy to let go of things that don’t “spark joy,” now’s a good time. Rummage through your drawers and closets to find high-value items that you’re no longer using.
Whether it’s a previous-generation iPhone or a designer coat that’s been sitting in your storage, letting go of clutter can help you save money toward an engagement ring. There are a number of platforms available to sell your goods, including Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, as well as app-based marketplaces, like Poshmark and OfferUp.
6. Consider a side hustle
Picking up a side hustle is an effective way to earn extra cash in a short time. If you already have a traditional full-time job, finding side gigs that can be done in the evenings or weekends may be best.
You might even consider taking on a side hustle that includes your partner, so you’re not losing out on quality time together. If you want the proposal to be a surprise, they don’t need to know what you’re really saving for! Side hustles like dog-walking can be a fun activity for both of you, and you’ll earn cash. Apps like Rover and Wag! are good places to start.
An engagement ring doesn’t have to put you in debt
Putting an engagement ring or wedding on a credit card isn’t necessarily wrong if it’s done responsibly and strategically. But it is risky — the last thing you want is to suddenly be unable to make payments and bring additional debt into your new union.
If you try some of these strategies, however, saving for an engagement ring is possible. Ultimately, the ring you choose will be unique to your situation and a meaningful symbol of your engagement journey, regardless of its price tag.