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Financial Choices and the Engagement Ring Dilemma


My husband and I have been together for six years. During this time, we have had some good and not-so-good financial decisions. Our early years were like a honeymoon where we enjoyed lots of traveling, restaurants, and hotels. We have great memories of that time, but the last two years have been a wake-up call for us.

A few years ago, my husband had a high-paying job with a six-figure salary in a reputable software company. Unfortunately, he was let go in late 2022, and he has only managed to find contract work ever since then. This implies that he earns far less than he used to earn before. As for me, I work as a freelance writer and copy editor with a side hustle as a travel concierge business owner. We have accumulated quite a bit of debt but have very little cash – only $4,600 in cash and $9,400 in credit card debt with an average 21% APR.

A Ring’s Dilemma

One day, my husband suggested that selling my engagement ring might solve our monetary challenges, adding that if we sold it, we could pay off our credit card debt and get ahead on our bills and rent. Although he said it jokingly, I could tell that he wasn’t entirely jesting. The mere suggestion of selling the ring weighed heavily on me, especially since we had an unpredictable monthly income and an uncertain future. My travel concierge business hasn’t exactly been profitable in the previous twelve months, which hasn’t instilled confidence in our cashflow.


As everyone can relate to, financial choices come with rewards and sometimes some not so pleasant consequences. Life can indeed throw curveballs; therefore, we need to be cautious in our decisions and expenses.

### To Sell or Not to Sell: The Engagement Ring Dilemma

Dear Wife,

I understand the weight of your dilemma. The big, shiny diamond ring on your finger represents more than a piece of jewelry. It carries status and pressure, thanks in part to the DeBeers diamond company’s famous “A Diamond is Forever” marketing campaign in 1947.

However, it’s important to remember that the value of an engagement ring is not set in stone. There’s no law that says a diamond ring makes a relationship more valuable. In fact, many couples opt for other types of rings or no ring at all.

With that in mind, let’s focus on your financial situation. Selling your ring, which is worth approximately $14,000, could provide significant relief for your credit-card bills and give you breathing space for the next six months. Living paycheck to paycheck is not sustainable, and taking action now could be the key to getting back on your feet financially.

Of course, selling your ring is not a decision to be made lightly. It’s important to have an honest conversation with your partner about your financial goals and priorities. Together, you can make a plan that will help you both feel secure and confident moving forward.

Remember, your engagement ring is just a piece of jewelry. Its value is not dependent on your relationship or your worth as a person. You have the power to decide what it represents and how it fits into your life.

Best of luck, The Moneyist

Say No to Traditional Engagement Ring Advice

The diamond industry claims that “tradition” dictates how much money someone should spend on an engagement ring- the general rule of thumb being that the ring should cost around two months’ salary. This means that if you earn $10,000 per month, you’re supposed to spend $20,000 on a ring.

While diamond companies argue that the diamond size equates to how much your spouse loves you, a small ring with a barely-visible diamond is unlikely to impress. In fact, it might make your significant other question the depth of your love. The whole idea of the diamond industry is to make you believe that bigger is always better, but really, it’s just self-serving poppycock.

Instead of buying into the idea that your engagement ring should cost a small fortune, consider what actually fits your lifestyle and budget. Purchasing a modestly priced ring will not only allow you to start your new journey together without financial stress, but will also give you the opportunity to truly understand and appreciate the meaning behind your chosen symbol of commitment.

So don’t let society dictate what you purchase for your engagement. Take control of your finances and choose a ring that represents your love in a meaningful and sustainable way.

The Truth About Engagement Rings in Divorce

If you’re going through a divorce and are unsure about what will happen to your engagement ring, rest assured that it’s not typically considered marital property.

According to the Law Office of Tzvi Y. Hagle, engagement rings are “customarily purchased by one spouse and gifted to the other before getting married.” As a result, they don’t qualify as marital property under New York’s rules governing equitable distribution.

That being said, if you’re looking to sell the ring in order to put yourself on a firmer financial footing, there are a few things you should consider. Firstly, be sure to shop around and avoid pawn shops which may offer less than fair market value.

You can also consider keeping the ring but replacing the diamond, or selling it for a lower price. Whatever you decide, make sure it’s an informed decision. After all, it’s just a consumer item and your financial stability is more important.

Reevaluating Possessions and Priorities as a Couple

Have you ever had a casual conversation with your partner about diamond rings, only to have it linger in the back of your mind like a cloud? It may be worth exploring this topic further, not only to consider all of your options, but also to reevaluate your relationship with possessions, financial goals, and priorities as a couple.

You may discover that reducing spending and finding alternative sources of income becomes a priority and the diamond becomes the rock on which these plans are built.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

  • “Am I cheap?” I used to give my nieces and nephews $100 gift cards, but I left my job in tech for a stress-free life. Is $25 insulting?
  • “How to travel for free”: I spent $500 hosting my friend for a week. Should she have paid for food and utilities?
  • “He’s content living paycheck to paycheck”: My husband won’t work or get a driver’s license. Now things have gotten even worse.

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