Every year, millions of men will propose to their girlfriend, and will often make all of the decisions going into the proposal—the timing, the venue, the ring purchase—all alone and on his own terms. Sure, it’s romantic, but is this a healthy way to begin life together? How many other major decisions—that affect the couple—will be made by only one of the two?
There is a clear relationship between couples who are not on the same financial page and an elevated divorce rate. Couples who disagree about finances once a week are far more likely to get divorced than couples who disagree about finances only a few times a month.
Given this information, would a more collaborative approach to the purchase of the engagement ring—a very major purchase as a couple—be better? Here is some financial advice to consider before buying that engagement ring.
Sure, guys, we all want to be Humphrey Bogart with a Tiffany box, but the first thing you need to understand is if that’s the ring your fiancée wants. It’s important to talk about marriage, expectations of rings, and more before actually dropping the cash (or using your credit card, for that matter) on something that may not be best for her, or for your finances, as a couple.
The average cost of a diamond engagement ring is a little more than $5000, but there are many alternative engagement rings out there that she may prefer over the average diamond. But you can’t know for sure if you just assume. Look at all your options and talk about preferences before putting down any money.
Are you planning to pay with cash for the ring, use your credit card, take a loan from your parents, use Jewelry Stores financing, or another option? A clear-headed assessment of all of these options, with both of you involved, is in order. Carefully consider borrowing money or going into debt with the first purchase symbolizing your marriage together.
For instance, major companies may offer no-interest financing on purchases, if paid in full within a specific period. However, if you ever pay late or fail to pay the balance before the agreed date, interest will be charged from the date of purchase—not from the date the promotional period ends—at a rate to 23-28%.
Are you saving to start a family, buy a house, and retire? While presenting her with that little box is enticing, wouldn’t it be better to present her a sound long-term plan for your life together? It’s very possible to do both, but unless you’re swimming in money, you have to budget and prioritize what’s most important. Communicate and be honest with each other about your what you want for your present and future together.
This works both ways: don’t assume that the Tiffany platinum set solitaire diamond is the only option, and don’t assume that the coral and sterling beauty that you bought in Hawaii will be the long term solution, either. You need to discuss this together.
As with any financial discussion with your partner, an all-or-nothing approach is rarely effective. Listen at least as much as you speak, and acknowledge your partner. Keeping an open mind to new ideas may end up as your best problem-solving tool.
By delaying the purchase of the ring, you may be able to save for it. Setting and meeting savings goals is a project that you can work on together, and that process will set the foundation for good financial communication in the future.
If, for instance, you purchase an alternative ring for $2,000 and, together, you prioritize your possible savings, investment, and future spending goals—the remaining $3,000 (of the average ring cost) could be used for your future together. Remember that compound interest is a powerful ally when you start early like this.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and most, if not all, married couples have to work on their financial communication. Be patient with each other as you work together in expressing what you want, what you expect with rings and finances, and how to make the best choices together as you prepare for engagement and marriage.
All of the work that you do as a couple on your financial communication pays off in the end. Getting an early start is great for your relationship and your finances. The ability to have loving and mutually respectful discussions about money and budgeting will help your marriage through the tough times that all married couples encounter. It’s never too late to start.
More expert advice about Finance for Couples
Photo Credits: © aslysun, Stock Photo 49883516; Check Man, Cross Man and Jump Man © ioannis kounadeas - Fotolia.com