couple holding hands with engagement ring

@Stephanie.small/Twenty20

With the holidays quickly approaching, take one look at your FB feed and one thing is clear: Engagement season is officially upon us. If you’re thinking about putting a ring on it, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when budgeting for all that bling.

While it might not be the most romantic topic, how much you should spend on an engagement ring has been a hotly debated question for decades. In 2016, the average national spend for an engagement ring was $6,163, according to The Knot.

That’s a lot of spending on a little sparkle.

So, what should you really pay? When it comes to romance, a lot of rules are outdated — like waiting three days to call or that the guy always foots the bill. And rules on how much you should actually spend on an engagement ring are dated as well.

“There’s no hard and fast rule on what couples should be spending,” Shelley Brown, fashion and beauty editor at The Knot, says. “The most important factor to consider is your own personal budget. Couples looking to purchase an engagement ring should set a budget that works for their lifestyle.”

Following firm rules on how much you should spend on a ring isn’t exactly financially savvy. Everyone’s financial situation is different, and some couples might prioritize putting a down payment on a new home or paying off debt over a pricey ring. And that’s totally OK. What is important, though, is that you budget accordingly.

Sharokina Pazand, the event director at Citygirl Weddings & Events in Chicago, recommends choosing a ring that, “fits your lifestyle together.” Still, remember that it’s worth the investment.

“My thought is, save as much as you can and choose a ring that fits into your lifestyle together, now and into the foreseeable future,” Pazand says. “Your engagement ring is something you can pass down for generations to come. Think of it as an investment piece into your future and something that will commemorate a moment in time now and into the future.”

One way to cut costs, and stay on-trend, is to opt for something other than a diamond.

Frank Johnson, the director of sales at Mon Ami Jewelry in Chicago, says that one trend has been customers breaking away from classics, like diamonds and a halo cut.

“The alternative is a colored stone, like a sapphire, which seems to be more popular,” says Johnson, noting that it is also more financially friendly than a diamond. “Once you get out of the diamond product, all of them are going to be less expensive.”

Pazand also acknowledged that couples are starting to opt for something more customized.

“Customization is very in right now,” Pazand says. “While Pinterest is great for ideas, no one wants the same diamond and style that everyone else has. I suggest choosing a quality diamond or stone over a larger diamond or stone.”

Regardless of whether you want something vintage or modern, customized or classic, you still need to budget. Here are some quick tips to consider before you spend on some sparkle:

Do your research

When it comes to actually budgeting for a big, one-time purchase like a new car or ring, you need to do your research. With engagement rings, there’s a lot to consider. Stones like sapphires are typically less expensive than diamonds, platinum metals are usually much more expensive than gold and the more metal there is on the ring, the pricier it is, according to The Knot.

It’s also important to consider the cut, carat, clarity and color of the ring. Know all of your options, the prices associated with those options and how much you can realistically afford. There are engagement ring calculators online that take into account how much you’re willing to spend as well as the cut, color, carat, clarity and setting style of the ring.

Create a separate account

Create a separate savings account for your engagement ring. This is a good habit to get into when you are saving for big-ticket items. Don’t skimp out on the amount you put in your emergency fund just because you’re saving for a ring, though. Instead, scale back on other “fun” expenses, like your travel or entertainment budgets.

Take your time

It probably took patience and persistence in finding The One (and maybe a lot of bad Tinder dates), and your engagement ring shouldn’t be any different. It takes the average couple 3.6 months to find the perfect ring, according to Brown.

Be sure to shop at a variety of jewelers, and don’t try to hastily throw down for a ring you can’t afford because you didn’t take the time to save. If you’re just super eager to get down on one knee, settle for a starter ring at a more affordable price and upgrade later down the road.

Once you’ve ordered your ring, remember that it can take up to six weeks to arrive, according to The Knot. So plan adequately, and get ready to pop that question!

Did you get a good deal on your engagement ring? Share your story with me on Facebook!