Engagement Ring Budgeting is a Must for Those Who Don't Have a Pile of Cash Lying Around

Engagement Ring Budgeting: Well, one of the most "traumatic" experiences in a man's life can be budgeting for his first engagement ring that he's going to offer his beloved. He's heard that he's supposed to "go to Jared", that he must spend two months' of his hard earned salary on this ring, that the ring has got to be as expensive as possible, and all other manner of "advice" and marketing pitches. But is there any truth to any of this?

Not really. You see, buying an engagement ring is kind of like personal health regimens: there are some basics that work for just about everyone, but beyond that everything has to be tailored to the individual. "Two months salary" is a good rule of thumb because you want to buy the highest quality you can afford--but do you have to spend that much? Not if the ring that costs that much isn't what your lady wants!

So, how should you go about budgeting for that engagement ring?

*First things first. You have to know what she wants. You need to know her tastes, and what kind of ring she would be thrilled with. If you're too shy to ask her, pay attention and see if she leaves you any "hints", like "accidentally" leaving open her computer with some websites showing diamond rings up on her screen. Or, ask her friends or her sister--somebody else who has known her for years and can tell you what to look for. You might know her so well yourself that you know you can make the right choice (that bodes well for a marriage, too!). But a $25,000 ring with a 2-carat diamond full of sparkle and fire in the center isn't going to be worth the money if she likes simplicity, and embedded chocolate diamonds. And although we are talking about diamonds mainly, she may not care about diamonds--she may prefer less expensive, beautiful gemstones.

*Know your four Cs: color, clarity, cut, and carat-weight. Research all of these before you go shopping, so that you know what's valuable and what to look for. Once you have done this, decide which of these Cs are the most important and which the least important to her ring preference.

*Plan for other future expenses related to the wedding, too. Honeymoon? The ceremony and reception? The wedding ring? These all cost money, too. Don't blow your budget on the engagement and have nothing left for the main event.

*Give yourself a price range and never deviate from it. Part of this means honing your haggling skills. You can't be shy about this, because you'll find diamonds are very often absurdly marked up--sometimes marked up 800%! Why is this? Partly to cover marketing expenses and overhead, partly to cover the fact that not everyone goes around buying diamonds every day so they have to make every sale count, and--believe it or not--partly because diamond merchants are so competitive that they expect hagglers! Research diamond values before you go shopping, and get that price as low as you can. If you know what you're talking about, the merchant will know you know and will give you a great deal.

*If you can pay cash, go for it. But you might also use one or more credit cards or consider taking out loans for engagement rings or you can use a layaway installment plan if you need to.

Be smart about budgeting for your engagement ring, and remember that there are no rules except one: please her.

For affordable diamonds, check out Blue Nile: Certified Diamonds & Fine Jewelry where my husband bought my beautiful engagement ring

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