Have you ever wondered why people care so much about engagement rings? When and how did all of society decide that this tiny little object mattered so much to a point where tons of people would be willing to go into debt to buy one for their partner?
I did some digging and I found a really great blog post by Erin Lowry, the super smart feminist writer behind the Broke Millennial blog and books. She wrote:
“Why are we willing to waste so much money on engagement rings, and weddings, instead of financially preparing for our futures?”
I’ve wondered this EXACT SAME THING for years, so I just couldn’t wait to read on!
“The tradition of the diamond engagement ring took off in the 1930s when the De Beers diamond company hired the NW Ayer advertising agency to increase sales. It took a few craftily placed diamond rings on the left hands of actresses, some fashion designers to mention how in vogue diamond rings were and some well-worded ads, but within three years diamond sales went up 55 percent. By 1947 the slogan, ‘A Diamond Is Forever’ came into play and we, the American public, were committed to spending a fortune to express endless love.”
Brilliant marketing and advertising can make people spend absurd amounts of money in search of that same feeling they felt when they watched the commercial or saw the ad. I’m certainly not surprised by this mini history lesson, but I am surprised that more people haven’t caught on!
After paying off $20,000 in debt, I realized that I never want to be a victim of irrationality in finances again. I piled on debt because I wasn’t equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to make solid financial choices consistently. Thankfully, I’ve come a long way! Now, I have a healthy level of skepticism about what society says I must do or buy, which includes getting an expensive ring! Here are a few reasons why it just doesn’t make sense to go into debt for an engagement ring:
1. An engagement ring is just a SYMBOL of the beginning of your marriage!
It’s letting you and everyone around you know that you’re officially starting a lifelong partnership. The engagement ring is then followed by so many more important financial responsibilities, such as paying for a wedding, buying a home and potentially planning for children. These aren’t your everyday financial decisions like buying groceries or new clothes. Big spends like this only happen a handful of times in your lifetime, hence why it calls for a lot of money. Keeping in mind that these larger marriage and future-related financial decisions are coming up, why would you want to enter this phase of your life already in the red? The goal should be to spend the least amount of money on smaller things and free up your dollars for the bigger things! Bigger things in the physical sense, but also in the sense of impact. What impact does an engagement ring really have on the rest of your life and your marriage? If you’re being honest with yourself, then you should be thinking.. “not a lot.”
2. Big life and money decisions shouldn’t be made based on our emotions!
The desire for a ring that is visible to others is really rooted in our human emotions and ego. We care so much about how others perceive us, even though we really shouldn’t. People who only care about the opinions of a select group are much happier than those who care about how they are perceived by everyone around them, including strangers. Remember, when you see ads and commercials for engagement rings, your brain is registering the images of love and happiness between two people and the ring ultimately comes off as a representation of that love. You can have a relationship with extremely high levels of love, happiness, respect and all the other wonderful things that make relationships positive even with a simple and inexpensive ring. Or.. an even more radical idea, without having a ring at all!
3. Big life and money decisions should be made based on data!
Data shows that financial disagreements are one of the leading reasons why couples fight and marriages end. Financial problems are already looming over couples on a daily basis, so why would you set up your marriage in a way where you owe money for a ring before you’ve even planned the wedding? That might not be the strongest start to a union. Not to mention, we’ve all heard the phrase “half of all marriages end in divorce.” Not all diamonds are forever! Okay, corny jokes aside, that phrase is quite inaccurate as a statistic, but we can all admit that divorce rates are not necessarily the lowest. However, now that millennials are getting married later and later in life, the divorce rate is decreasing as more people are getting married when they’re mentally, financially and emotionally more mature.
4. Going into debt for someone else can lead to resentment.
Nelson Mandela was once quoted saying, “Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Resentment is emotionally unhealthy for yourself. It’s definitely become more unhealthy when you have resentment within a marriage. And it’s definitely not a healthy marriage vibe either. Every time you and your partner get into those inevitable relationship disputes, it’s natural to question the worth behind the sacrifices you’ve made for them. Financial sacrifices are ones that easily and quickly lead to feelings of resentment. You do not, I repeat, do not want to put yourself in a position where you start to resent your partner because you have to deal with a debt repayment plan as a result of buying them an expensive engagement ring.
We should all make an effort to keep our lives and our relationships debt-free for as long as we possibly can. A home mortgage is a reasonable debt to incur before or during a marriage, but an engagement ring? Not so much!