1 in 3 Americans Think You Should Spend Less Than $1,000 on an Engagement Ring

You’ve likely heard the old rule that you should spend two months’ salary on an engagement ring. But does anyone actually follow that standard?

To find out how much people are willing to pay for an engagement ring, GOBankingRates surveyed adults across the U.S. According to the findings, very few Americans are willing to shell out two months’ worth of pay on a ring. In fact, most would rather spend much less.

Related: 5 Wedding Budget Questions You Need to Ask Your Fiancé

Survey: How Much Should Be Spent on an Engagement Ring?

The GOBankingRates’ survey asked 5,000 adults, “How much do you feel should be spent on an engagement ring?” and offered seven possible dollar amounts. The choices included:

  • Less than $1,000
  • $1,000 to $2,999
  • $3,000 to $4,999
  • $5,000 to $9,999
  • $10,000 or above
  • Two months’ salary
  • Money is no object

The survey findings provide insights into overall feelings about how much should be spent on an engagement ring, as well as attitudes by age, gender and state.

Most Americans Would Spend Less Than $1,000 on an Engagement Ring

Most people (55 percent) now believe that the appropriate amount to spend is less than $3,000. Of those surveyed, 19 percent of respondents said $1,000 to $2,999 should be spent on an engagement ring, but 36 percent said less than $1,000 is a suitable amount.

Make Your Money Work for You

“The days of following ‘traditional advice’ is long over, especially for millennials struggling with student loan debt and averse to too much credit usage,” said LaTisha Styles, a millennial money expert and host of Young Finances TV. “The Great Recession truly caused a shift in spending priorities.”

Only 6 percent of those surveyed still favor the old rule of spending two months’ pay on an engagement ring. Based on recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, two months’ earnings would equal about $6,400, on average.

Not everyone feels it’s important to stick to a budget, though. Of those surveyed, 17 percent said “money is no object” when it comes to the amount that should be spent on an engagement ring.

Both Men and Women Favor Low-Cost Engagement Rings

Men and women seem to agree that the most popular amount to spend on a ring is less than $1,000 —  35 percent of women and 36 percent of men chose this option. Similarly, 17 percent of men said $1,000 to $2,999 was an appropriate amount, and 21 percent of women chose this amount.

engagement ring budget

On average, Americans are actually spending about $5,000 on engagement rings, according to a 2014 survey by Brides magazine. But a different 2014 survey by American Express found that couples in the U.S. believe $2,311 is the average appropriate price to pay for an engagement ring. In 2013, American Express found that the average was $2,410, indicating that Americans’ attitudes toward engagement ring costs are changing.

Make Your Money Work for You

It is possible to get a decent ring for less than $1,000, said Styles. You just might have to opt for a smaller stone or a gem that’s not a diamond. And, you can always opt for an inexpensive choice today then go for an upgrade after five years or so, she said.

The least popular amount to spend on an engagement ring for both men and women is $10,000 or above. However, 16 percent of women and 18 percent of men said that money should be no object when it comes to buying an engagement ring. This answer could also mean that these respondents believe a ring should be bought based on factors that have nothing to do with its price, such as its design or uniqueness.

Older Adults Are More Likely to Spend Less on Engagement Rings

Although about half of younger millennials (ages 18-24) and older millennials (ages 25-34) surveyed said less than $3,000 should be spent on an engagement ring, an even greater percentage of older adults felt this way. More than 60 percent of adults ages 55 to 64 and nearly 70 percent of adults 65 and older said the appropriate amount to spend on a ring is less than $3,000. Across all age groups, however, the most popular answer is “less than $1,000.”

Make Your Money Work for You

How much to spend on an engagement ring

A staggering 44 percent of adults 65 and older believe less than $1,000 should be spent on an engagement ring, which isn’t surprising. After all, these adults — at least the ones who have been engaged — probably spent less than $1,000 on an engagement ring or they have an engagement ring that costs less than $1,000. Because of inflation, the price of an engagement ring 40 or so years ago was likely much lower than engagement ring prices today. Using an inflation calculator, you’ll find that $250 in 1975 dollars has the same buying power as $1,102.86 in 2015 dollars.

The survey also found that millennials are more likely than any other age group to believe that money should be no object when buying an engagement ring.

Engagement Ring Spending Limits by State

The most popular amount to spend on a ring in most states is “less than $1,000.” But, a few states have slightly bigger spenders.

In Connecticut, Maine, Montana and South Dakota, the most popular amount to spend on a ring is $1,000 to $2,999. In Vermont, there was a tie between “less than $1,000” and “$1,000 to $2,999.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Hawaii residents appear to be willing to spend more on engagement rings that most other Americans. In that state, there was a four-way tie for the most popular amount people were willing to spend: “money is no object,” “two months’ salary,” “$3,000 to $4,999” and “less than $1,000.”

Read: 8 Tips for Haggling With Wedding Vendors

How Much Should You Spend on an Engagement Ring?

When buying an engagement ring, you shouldn’t feel pressured to spend a certain amount of money. Instead, the amount you pay should be based on how much you can afford and are willing to spend, said Styles.

Avoiding the temptation to overspend is especially important if you already have a lot of debt and no savings to cover the cost of a ring. “Depending on where you are financially, sometimes an engagement ring is a bad investment and alternative options are the safe bet,” Styles said.

Even if you don’t have any debt, opting for a more affordable ring can still be your best option — just think about what you can do with the money that you save by buying a ring that’s less than $1,000. That money can go toward your actual wedding costs instead. Or, you and your significant other can use that money for a fun purchase — like a honeymoon — or a future purchase that will prove to be more valuable down the line, such as a house.

Methodology: These findings are the result of a Google Consumer Survey that collected answers from 5,000 respondents from Dec. 30, 2015, to Jan. 1, 2016. The survey posed the query, “How much do you feel should be spent on an engagement ring?” and allowed respondents to choose seven possible dollar amounts, displayed in this order: (1) “Less than $1,000,” (2) “$1,000-$2,999,” (3) “$3,000-$4,999,” (4) “$5,000-$9,999,” (5) “$10,000 or above,” (6) “Two months’ salary” and (7) “Money is no object.” Analyses are based on all responses. For analyses related to age and gender, this finding only reports on responses for which Google provided the relevant demographic information.

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About the Author

Cameron Huddleston

Cameron Huddleston is an award-winning journalist with more than 18 years of experience writing about personal finance. Her work has appeared in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune, Fortune, MSN, USA Today and many more print and online publications. She also is the author of Mom and Dad, We Need to Talk: How to Have Essential Conversations With Your Parents About Their Finances. U.S. News & World Report named her one of the top personal finance experts to follow on Twitter, and AOL Daily Finance named her one of the top 20 personal finance influencers to follow on Twitter. She has appeared on CNBC, CNN, MSNBC and “Fox & Friends” and has been a guest on ABC News Radio, Wall Street Journal Radio, NPR, WTOP in Washington, D.C., KGO in San Francisco and other personal finance radio shows nationwide. She also has been interviewed and quoted as an expert in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch and more. She has an MA in economic journalism from American University and BA in journalism and Russian studies from Washington & Lee University.

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