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Reasonable Cost of Engagement Ring for Med Student

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  • Reasonable Cost of Engagement Ring for Med Student

    Hey everyone - MS1 here planning to propose to my girlfriend of 6 years within the next year or so. What do you think is a reasonable price (paid in cash) for an engagement ring for someone in my position?

    Some details: I'm on pace to graduate with about $200k in student loan debt, and she is a first year law student who will graduate in 2 years with about the same debt burden. For what it's worth, she's more drawn to public sector work for lifestyle and personal fulfillment reasons, which I support. We currently live on a combined ~$2300/month and have no debt outside of the student loans. I'm in the National Guard which pays $400/month, and I'll also be paid ~$6000 for active duty training this summer.

    I'm currently thinking of just taking all of the money that I make this summer and using it for the ring, but I do realize that I'd essentially be making that purchase at 6% interest since it would prevent me from putting that money toward taking out less loans. Is this too much money for a med student to be spending? Will it really make a difference in the long term?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Obviously a very personal decision but I thought the rule of thumb is 3 times your monthly income. Depends on her personality of course. Without getting sexist, most girls dream about that moment all their lives. If she is like that, swing for the fences because she is going to remember and wear that ring all her life. If it is just a symbolic gesture, get a nice but inexpensive one. You can always buy her a more expensive ring when you renew your vowels or on some significant anniversary.

    Here's a link after a quick google search:

    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-much-should-you-spend-on-an-engagement-ring_us_5942a606e4b024b7e0df49c7

    Funny tidbit:

    "A recent study conducted by Emory University aragraph;cpos:9">connected pricey rings to divorce rates. Men who spent more money on rings for their fiancees were more likely to end their marriages."

     

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    • #3
      I got my wife $500 ring for the engagement. Almost 12 years post marriage she wanted a nicer ring and I think we paid $5000 for it. By that time our net worth was so much higher that the money was a small amount.

      I would say <$1000. A much nicer one on the 10th anniversary. But a frank conversation with your GF would be helpful, since money is the root cause of most divorces. Having open communications about finances from the start is the best way to reduce that.

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      • #4




        I got my wife $500 ring for the engagement. Almost 12 years post marriage she wanted a nicer ring and I think we paid $5000 for it. By that time our net worth was so much higher that the money was a small amount.

        I would say <$1000. A much nicer one on the 10th anniversary. But a frank conversation with your GF would be helpful, since money is the root cause of most divorces. Having open communications about finances from the start is the best way to reduce that.
        Click to expand...


        Agree...less than 1k. I spent $500 on the engagement ring during my senior year of college and my wife still wears it 18 years later. I keep hinting that we should upgrade but every time we have that discussion she votes for a vacation instead.

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        • #5
          My wife still wears the $250 engagement ring I bought her when I was a senior in college.  I remember that feeling like a lot of money.  Because it was!  To me its a far more meaningful symbol of our marriage and time together than whatever nicer ring I might buy her in the future (and yes I will eventually have to do this).

          If you both sat down and had an honest discussion about what your joint finances will look like once wedded, the smart thing would be to do similarly.  Then celebrate your marriage later on with nicer things when you've earned it.

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          • #6
            3 months salary is an insane ROT.  Unless you're an MS1.  Then it might be reasonable.   

            If she is drawn to public sector work, she may want a more subdued ring for general use.  Many of my patients are lower SE status and I would not enjoy wearing a big ring to work (also big rings get caught in gloves--important for doctors but prob not for lawyers).    My engagement ring is beautiful but subdued, and was not expensive.   Also keep in mind diamonds are WAY overpriced, and the diamond engagement ring was just a marketing ploy engineered by De Beers 100 years ago.  See what she wants--not every female fits the stereotype, we don't all want to walk around with an enormous rock on the hand.   Your fiancé may want her future husband to put the money towards his loans rather than a nugget of pressurized carbon.

            Financial samurai's ROT for this is entertaining:

            https://www.financialsamurai.com/the-new-rule-for-engagement-ring-buying/

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            • #7
              We got mine at an antique store for about $1000. It's a pretty big ruby and looks more expensive than it was. I think about a grand is okay, but make sure you look at non-traditional sources (small locally owned jewelry stores, antique stores, etc). You will get a better price on something that is actually unique

              also, I will point out that the majority of my friends don't regularly wear their engagement rings once they have been married for more than 5 years, especially if they have little children. your mileage may vary.

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              • #8


                I keep hinting that we should upgrade but every time we have that discussion she votes for a vacation instead.
                Click to expand...


                A really smart women, who knows that a vacation means much more in life than a piece of metal / carbon.

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                • #9
                  Reasonable and jewelry cannot be used in the same sentence because there is no such thing. Certainly the definition will be highly variable among different people.

                  If you are romantic and cannot discuss it, then use your best guess. If she wants a bigger ring, either have to swallow hard and buy it or wait to get engaged. Don’t forget insurance.

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                  • #10
                    Is it going to be a total surprise, or have you talked about getting married or an impending engagement? If the latter, I'd have a conversation about expectations. Mine was ~$6k - at the time, we both wanted that. Everyone was doing it. In retrospect, it seems crazy to me. I love it, and wear it daily, but I would have been perfectly fine with something much more subdued for daily wear and much less expensive (~1-2k). Keep in mind, most people insure them at least for a few years so that adds extra ongoing expense as well. Communicate about a piece of daily jewelry that SHE will be wearing. The excitement wears off after about a year, then it's just a pretty symbol.

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                    • #11
                      Definitely buy online. Much more affordable and better bang for your buck. I bought my ring, wife's diamond and band all online. Go to the store to figure out what she likes and wants then get the stuff online.

                      Pricescope.com for all your diamond information and needs. There are a few online only places that don't have overhead costs like traditional brick n mortar.

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                      • #12
                        In your shoes not that long ago.

                        My wife and I are coming up on 5 years of marriage. Got married at the end of med school, so lots of debt. I basically asked her how much is too much to spend, knowing that this would really be money that wouldn't be put toward loans immediately. She understood where I was coming from, we discussed numbers and came up with a number that worked for us.

                        One thing you can ask her is about friends rings (size, shape, etc) and then you hopefully have an idea of what that may or may not cost which will give you a better idea of a ballpark without ruining any surprises.

                        If you want ring information, I found the pricescope forums to be very helpful (my wife really wanted an oval shape)

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                        • #13
                          Never had an engagement ring. So zero. We think anything more than that isn't reasonable.

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                          • #14
                            I thought it was 1 month's salary?

                            At any rate, no reason you have to follow a guideline put together by the diamond industry.
                            Helping those who wear the white coat get a fair shake on Wall Street since 2011

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                            • #15




                              I thought it was 1 month’s salary?

                              At any rate, no reason you have to follow a guideline put together by the diamond industry.
                              Click to expand...


                              Two months salary is the standard of (marriage) care, per the DeBeers family.

                              I was given my engagement diamond by an Aunt, and it did the trick when I was a resident. (An upgrade was later required, however.  :x )

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