And while there is no right time to profess your love or to communicate that you want to marry a woman, I believe there are “right” times to buy an engagement ring. With the expectation that a man should spend one month’s income on a ring (which is also debatable), there is a lot to think about when making this expensive purchase.
If the following questions can be answered with a resounding, “heck, yeah,” then by all means put a ring on it.
1. Do you have an emergency fund? Before you put a ring on it, make sure that your financial house is in order. With an engagement as an overture to marriage, you have to understand you are not only committing to living your romantic lives together, you are committing to living your financial lives together as well.
2. Do you have a job? Sometimes the obvious is worth stating. Before you start getting your woman’s hopes all up with the proposal of marriage, make sure you actually can back it up. Traditional roles of marriage and engagement, by default, dictate that men come to marry when they have, at least, one stable source of income.
3. Do you have your debt under control? If your credit card debt is out of control, that probably means that you have no savings, which also probably means that you are going to put the ring on credit. If this rings true, stop right there. Before bringing the woman that you want to love and protect into this financial quagmire (with the possibility that the repo man will come in the middle of the night and steal it off of her finger), eliminate the credit card debt.
4. Are you able to meet all of your monthly expenditures without resorting to eating cat food and saltines for lunch and dinner? Seriously, if things are that tight, it may signal that you have to reassess your expenses and current spending before you stretch yourself any further.
If you still want to buy an engagement ring without first possessing a healthy financial reserve, then buy the ring that you can afford, which may not be what you want, but that is okay as well. It does not mean that you love your woman any less.
In fact, it may show great maturity and single-mindedness: you don’t feel pressured to conform to the societal demand that you show your love through buying large and you are safeguarding the peace, health, and wealth of your marriage (the purpose for getting engaged and buying the ring, right?) from unnecessary financial strain.
And of course, you can always upgrade in the future, if that is something that you and your woman want.