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How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

big engagement ringAn interesting phenomenon exists within the engagement ring industry where jewelry stores publish engagement ring spending guidelines based on a percentage of the man's yearly salary. For example, when I searched Google for the phrase ‘engagement ring’ I found the following five quotes from jewelry websites listed in the top ten results:

"the average ring should be approximately 2 to 2-1/2 months salary"

"The two-months salary convention is a common starting point"

"consider the often-quoted guideline of spending one to two month’s salary"

"The idea that a man should spend roughly two months' salary on a diamond engagement ring is a widely accepted convention"

"The current standard is for a man to spend the equivalent of two months salary on a diamond engagement ring"

Keep in mind these are published by jewelry stores who want you to spend as much as possible. For what it is worth, it is my belief that if you looked at the salaries of men who bought engagement rings and compared this with the amount they spent on engagement rings then you would find that both the mean and median amount actually spent is around one month's salary and probably even less than one month's salary. Regardless, it is also my belief that the happiness and longevity of a marriage isn't a function of how much you spend on an engagement ring . . . unless of course you spend more than you can afford resulting in excessive financial stress and strain on your new marriage.

Important Note: I highly recommend that you NOT debate the merits of the engagement ring spending guidelines with your potential fiancée.

All Pre-Engagement Questions:

Should I ask her father's permission?

How should I ask her father for permission?

Should I get on one knee?

Should I talk it over with my family and friends before proposing?

Do I have to pick the engagement ring out by myself?

How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

Why is the diamond engagement ring important?

Should I discuss financial details before getting engaged?

Which finger do women wear the engagement ring on?