Here’s one of my favorite money and gender questions: How much should someone spend on an engagement ring?
Out of curiosity, I once asked this at the dinner table, and my entire family put their forks down and stared at me. Not good.
I like this question because it highlights the gap between rational answers and emotional responses.
Whenever people talk about engagement rings on the internet, here is exactly what happens:
PERSON 1: “Hey guys! I’m going to get engaged to my girlfriend next month. How much should I spend on the engagement ring?”
PERSON 2: “Ugh! What a heteronormative paternalistic anachronism.”
PERSON 3: “I spent $42 on my engagement ring and we’ve been married 58 years.”
PERSON 4: “Forget diamonds. They’re all stained with the blood of exploited people. What about Mossanite/CZ?”
PERSON 5: “Any girl who *expects* an engagement ring is a gold digger! You need to break up with her now. You’re welcome.”
PERSON 1: (Commits suicide at the stupidity of the internet)
Before you answer, I’d like you to consider a few key points from this article: “Have You Ever Tried To Sell A Diamond?” This is the single-most interesting article I have ever read. Learn how diamond companies used highly sophisticated marketing and distribution to position diamonds as a luxury good, and how they have changed consumer perceptions over time.
Questions to ask before you leave a comment below:
- Does how much to spend on an engagement ring depend how on much the guy makes? Or the woman?
- What if the woman makes more than the guy?
- How does Conscious Spending play into this purchase?
- Do women want an engagement ring? Why or why not?
- How does culture play into the decision of how much to spend on an engagement ring?
- Does this change for same-sex couples?
Answers that will not be accepted because they are stupid:
- “The divorce rate is 50% for everyone! Save your money!” (No, it’s really not.)
- “This is ridiculous because it’s all anecdotes/stories. I want PEER-REVIEWED RESEARCH!!” (Attention, ass: There is no peer-reviewed research on how much you should spend on an engagement ring. That’s because this is water-cooler discussion, which is a valuable addition to quantitative data.)
- “I hate you Ramit because you assume that only men buy women engagement rings and you are making all kinds of assumptions! Men and women are all different!” (First, this is obvious, but even within a heterogeneous group, there are still patterns. Second, if you’d like to offer up another view that applies to more than 10% of my readers, I am very open to it. However, edge cases of aboriginal nomads getting married on a crocodile farm in Malaysia (“THEY don’t buy engagement rings!”) do not count. We’re talking stories and averages, people.)
So, the QUESTION: How much should a man spend on an engagement ring?
Leave your comments below.
Want to learn how to automate your finances and prepare for big expenses — and learn how to earn more?