Engagement Rings: Study Shows Spending Less Leads to Longer Marriages

By Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach®     

I’ll never forget the night my husband Earl popped the question.

We were on a business trip and staying at a beautiful hotel in San Francisco. After a whirlwind day, we stood on the hotel balcony overlooking the city, talking about all we’d accomplished together. All of a sudden, Earl got down on one knee, told me how much he loved me, and asked me to be his wife. I immediately said yes. In my excitement, I didn’t realize that Earl proposed without giving me a ring.

You read that right.

There was NO engagement ring.

Now I realize that some people may read this and think, “No way would I marry someone who couldn’t even spring for an engagement ring!

Rest assured, Earl ultimately did buy me a wedding ring. Honestly, I balked at him doing that, because he’d inherited a solitaire diamond ring from a beloved great aunt. I adored the ring, because it was a treasured family heirloom, but Earl insisted on purchasing a diamond band customized to fit around the stone.

Now that we’re approaching our 12th year of what continues to be a very happy marriage, I can say — anecdotally and statistically — that many couples might benefit from reining in spending on engagement and wedding rings.

That’s because according to research, frugal couples fare best when it comes to staying married.

In a survey of more than 3,000 people in the U.S. who married, Emory researchers found that couples who forked over $20,000 on their wedding (excluding the cost of the ring), were 46% more likely on average to get divorced. The risk of a breakup dropped to 29% higher on average for those who spent between $10,000 and $20,000.

By contrast, couples who spent between $1,000 and $5,000 were 18% less likely to wind up in divorce court, and those who shelled out less than $1,000 were 53% less likely to split up.

Emory researchers theorized that couples who threw big, fancy weddings and spent money on expensive rings might have succumbed to peer pressure, or fell for the marketing hype of the bridal industry, and didn’t keep their financial priorities in order.

You’ve probably heard the so-called conventional wisdom that suggests spending three month’s salary on an engagement ring. So for a person earning $50,000 a year, the suggestion is that you’d spend a whopping $12,500!

It may not surprise you that buying a diamond engagement ring was first started by none other than the DeBeers jewelry and diamond company along with their trademarked expression, “A Diamond is Forever.” Fast-forward more than 60 years later, and it’s refreshing to learn that many engaged couples are taking the financial pressure off each other — especially when it comes to buying diamonds.

According to the latest figures from The Knot, the average engagement ring in America costs $6,351. For some people, that figure may sound high; for others, it may seem too low.

An engagement ring can be an important symbol of a couple’s commitment to one another and represent the bond they share. But couples should assess their own budgets, priorities and values when choosing a ring.




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