I Almost Paid a Fortune for a Ring — I’m So Glad My Fiancé Stopped Me

Marriage isn't about a fancy ring.

Pledging your life to another person is a stressful event. The costs involved make it even more stressful.

When you think about weddings, what’s the first purchase that comes to mind? Catering? No. Venues? No.

Engagement rings — dazzling, sparkling, glittering, shining, insanely expensive engagement rings.

My wife, Dannie, and I will celebrate seven years of marriage on February 23. Thinking back, I still can’t believe I spent less than $500 on an engagement ring.

Yes, that’s it. Before you call me a total cheapskate, let me just say that it was all her idea. When we were talking about marriage, she sent me 10 to 15 potential ring options to choose from in an email, each under $1,000. Actually, quite a few rings were in the $300 range.

Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with someone who wants an expensive ring, but here’s what I learned from marrying someone that wanted a cheap one.

You Shouldn’t Feel Pressured to Spend Money You Don’t Have

According to The Knot’s annual Real Wedding Study, the national average spent on engagement rings was $5,764 in 2017. We got married in 2012, towards the beginning of my Air Force career. There’s probably a -3 percent chance I could’ve afforded a ring that expensive, if that’s what she was expecting. I would have had to finance it, like most people end up doing.

In this particular situation, I learned that you shouldn’t feel pressured to spend money you don’t have. Our society thrives on consumerism but Dannie’s request emphasized how little material things mean.

This has been true throughout our entire marriage. I’ve never once felt pressured to spend a ton of money on material things for her birthday or even holidays. (She banned us from participating in Valentine’s day.)

This has been really important for me. We lived only on my salary for a while after we got married. Limiting the pressure of buying things helped me focus on experiences. This includes once-in-a-lifetime vacations and filling our bellies with amazing food. When we can afford to spend money, I want to make sure it is on the things that truly matter.

Check Out: Why We Chose a Small Wedding and Big Savings

It Doesn’t Matter What Other People Think of Your Relationship

Why do people buy flashy engagement rings in the first place? In my opinion, they do it so other people can see how much they love someone. When women mention they’re getting married, two things are usually said:

  1. Some squealing, and “OMG!”
  2. “Let me see your ring!”

Knowing Dannie didn’t want an expensive ring let me know that she didn’t care what anyone else would think about it. I could appreciate that, and it helped me reframe my way of thinking about other people’s opinions.

I thought I needed to buy her a spectacular ring so people could see how much I loved her. Pleasing people and caring about their opinions used to be a big part of my life. This isn’t the case anymore, and part of that comes from Dannie’s personality rubbing off on me.

Read: Is Splurging on Your Wedding Totally Worth It?

You Should Talk About Money Early and Often

A 2018 study from U.K. law firm Slater and Gordon found that money worries are the number-one reason for divorce. Given this fact, I respect Dannie for telling me upfront how much she expected me to spend on an engagement ring. This took the guesswork completely out of the equation for me. It also helped me avoid getting yelled at for blindly spending $5,000 on a ring. But most importantly, I learned that communication is key and talking about money with your partner is one of the most important things you can ever do.

How you manage your money changes dramatically when you bring another person into the equation. You need to know what their financial habits, beliefs and problems are as early as possible because they will eventually affect you too.

I used to think money was a taboo subject to discuss because no one in my family ever talked about it. But Dannie and I have paid off six figures worth of debt, and I can directly attribute that to our constant communication. We still have monthly budget meetings, and if either of us is screwing up, we don’t hesitate to talk about it and hold each other accountable.

Money lessons can be found in the unlikeliest of places. My wife’s ring request opened my eyes to that fact. At the end of the day, her ring cost me less than $500, but the things I’ve learned are priceless.

Click through to read the outrageous cost of celebrity weddings.

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