About a month ago, I got engaged. And since I’ve been telling people, the first question has not been “how did it happen” or “when are you guys getting married,” but “where is your ring?” In fact, one coworker told me that she kept forgetting I was engaged because I don’t wear a ring. I wanted to remind her that having a diamond ring didn’t save her from getting divorced, but I bet my tongue.
I’m not getting an engagement ring. I made the decision more than a year ago when I read this article on the history of engagement rings. It made me realize that engagement rings have no symbolic significance to me and seem to be another way for the wedding industrial complex to convince happy couples that they need to spend thousands of dollars to prove their love.
Why I Didn’t Want an Engagement Ring
An average wedding ring costs a few thousand dollars. And unless other 25 year-olds know something I don’t, we don’t have a few thousand dollars laying around. I mean, I still have about $9,000 left to pay on my student loans, and I consider myself lucky that I don’t have a car payment to go along with that. My fiance and I only earn about $30,000 each – why would we buy a ring that costs 10% of our annual salary? We’re not even saving that much in our retirement fund!
Plus, studies show that experiences are worth paying money for, not things. Every time someone asks me where my ring is, I tell them I didn’t want one and that I’d rather go to Europe for our honeymoon. My mom said she would also rather get a nice trip abroad than a fancy diamond, and she can afford to do both!
We all spend our money differently. Even though I think it’s silly to buy engagement rings, someone might value that diamond more than anything else. But statistics show that the engagement ring you care about now will not matter as much in a few years, when all you want is a housekeeper who comes once a month, a babysitter for your kids or a weekend getaway.
Take a moment and think about the greatest trip you could take with your future spouse. Then think about a big shiny diamond. Which would you rather have? If you can afford to do both, great! Get your rock and your vacation. But if you can’t, then think about what you want more.
How to Find an Affordable Engagement Ring
There are tons of ways to save money on engagement rings, including sites where you can get used rings for half the price. Considering that the average engagement ring costs $4,000, that means an average savings of $2,000.
Here’s a quick list:
- Helzberg Diamonds
- I Do, Now I Don’t
- Kay Jewelers
- Have You Seen the Ring
- Robbins Brothers
Someone did tell me once that getting a used ring is bad luck, as if a material object has any affect on the longevity of your marriage. Honestly, I think people who say this feel insecure about buying something used. They want to feel like they can provide the kind of engagement ring their fiance has always dreamed of, and buying used can feel like cheating.
They’re also probably worried about bringing up the subject with their future spouse. But if your fiance is more concerned with getting a new ring than you getting the best value, you might want to reevaluate your relationship.
Just take a look at these used rings – they don’t look like they came from a pawn shop, do they? Nope, they look as bright and shiny as any other diamond ring you could find.
Costco is another place where you get an affordable ring without busting your piggy bank. In fact, research shows that a ring bought at Costco is worth more than what you pay for it (compared to Tiffany’s, where you’re paying more for the name than the actual diamond).
If you’re unsure about buying an engagement ring in the same place where you get bulk pasta sauce, just imagine all the money you’ll save.
An engagement is the first step to a wedding and a marriage. Starting off on the right (financial) foot is important, especially since money issues are one of the top reasons for divorce. Think about why you want a big ring and if you need it. If you still decide you do, then consider going the frugal route.