When the question of how much to spend on a ring comes up, there is often a quick answer that people give. Three months salary for a ring is something that, we are told, is a rule of thumb. As in, a man must allocate three months of his hard work in order to secure the right ring to give to his prospective bride. Anything different, and he’s not doing it right.
Or so we are told.
Think about this. Let’s say that Joe SixPack makes $40,000 a year, after taxes. His expenses are $35,000. Thus, he’s somehow able to set aside $5,000 per year. Since his monthly net income is $3,333, he is really saving 1.5 months of income per year. In total.
If Joe wants to set aside 3 months salary for a ring for the future Mrs. SixPack, he will effectively require two years of work in order to be able to afford a $10,000 ring. He will have zero savings left over. Isn’t that a lot of work, just for a piece of jewelry?
Some folks might say:
- Man up, and deal with it.
- She’s worth it (won’t argue with that one)
- He should make more money
- Get a second job
- That’s just the way it is
- Borrow money for it (bad)
Personally, yes – I was one of the 3 month people. Or, at least I spent just about that much, if I recall. But that doesn’t mean that everyone should do that, or that it’s really necessary. I think the amount someone spends should be based on what you feel comfortable spending. I spent more than I could probably afford at the time, but I wasn’t given an ultimatum to do. That would stink, for either person, to be in a situation where she says “I don’t like my engagement ring“, or even suggests it in much more subtle way.
I was talking about this with someone a few months back, a guy not married but contemplating popping the question. He’s money minded, and financial issues (spending a lot of money) are obviously stressing him out. My thoughts quickly distilled to the notion that the amount of money spent on a ring is a nice litmus test of compatibility on at least some dimensions.
If the two people have different expectations of what quality the ring should be, and can’t come to common ground that both feel happy with, then that is something to consider.
- Maybe he’s cheap, and doesn’t get some aspects of being a man. Perhaps he isn’t truly interested in her happiness?
- Or, maybe she’s too materialistic. Perhaps she wants a fairy tale, and isn’t interested in his happiness and priorities?
- OR, maybe the people have different views on things that they need to work out.
Ultimately, I unscientifically think it’s probably the 3rd situation with a lot of people who have varying expectations. There’s probably no right or wrong, other than the extreme cases of truly cheap guys or truly over-demanding ladies. It’s all about being able to compromise on finances in a relationship, or about compatibility.
Oh, and about that 3 months salary rule. Don’t bother, it’s not real. That might mean spending far less, or next to nothing at all. Or you never know, maybe it could mean spending far more, depending on assets and what you both value. Do what’s right for you and your significant other.
My Questions for You
What do you think about the 3-month rule?
Do you think that spending much less means the guy is cheap, or that a woman wanting much more is greedy?
Or, do you think that there are truly no rules and anything goes?