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How to Buy an Engagement Ring on a Budget

By Ryan P. Zacharczyk, CFP®, MBA CRPC

There is a lot of pressure on men when picking out that perfect engagement ring. Many men see the selection as a symbol of the depth of the love for their bride to be. The engagement ring may be a representation of your love and commitment to your fiancé, but it certainly is not something that you should stretch to pay for or go into debt over.

Here are a few simple things to consider when buying a ring for your betrothed:

  • Know your budget: Don’t get wrapped up in the two month’s salary propaganda. Figure out what makes sense for you to spend to get your future fiancé a beautiful engagement ring that won’t put the two of you in the poor house before you even tie the knot.

  • A ring is not an investment: Although the value of the diamond and ring itself may appreciate over time, would you ever plan to sell your wife’s ring in retirement or during difficult financial periods? An investment is something you purchase today that you anticipate will appreciate in value, so you can sell it at a profit. An engagement ring does not meet those qualifications. It is a gift, not an investment.

  • Do your research: Know what you are looking for before you go to a jeweler. Understanding the 4 C’s (carat, color, clarity, and cut) will arm you with knowledge before you walk into the store — and before a jeweler leads you down a path of endless monthly payments.

    Would you buy a car based on the word of the dealer? When trying to save money on a diamond, consider making the sacrifice in the color, clarity, or the carat. Making a move from a one-karat diamond to a .90-karat stone can save you hundreds, even thousands of dollars. The only person that will know the difference is your jeweler. A one-step downgrade in color and clarity will also create huge savings, and the compromise may not even be discernable to an admirer.

    Try not to skimp on the cut. A properly cut diamond has facets that are well positioned to reflect incoming light back to you. This is what makes a diamond sparkle. A poor cut, more than anything, has a great effect on the quality of the sparkle of the diamond.

  • Always comparison shop: Although it may be impossible to find two diamonds that are equal, it is not impossible to find an equivalent diamond at a cheaper price through comparison shopping. Once you have decided on the aspects of the diamond you hope to purchase, shop more than one jeweler to get the diamond you are looking for at the best price.

Buying an engagement ring is similar to any other major purchase. If you decide on a budget, do your research, and then comparison shop, you will be sure to get her a ring that she loves at a price that won’t break the bank.

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