A Thrifty Engagement
Mr. Spendy and I had been dating for a few years before we thought, "Oh, well, I guess this is relationship is permanent? Maybe we should get married eventually?"
First things first, we needed a ring. The average wedding ring is purchased for $5,978 according to a recent article from MarketWatch. We were looking to spend much less than that!
Mr. Spendy was just starting to see the light and at the beginning of his path to reform (i.e. somewhere between drone two and three). I told him anything would do even a ring from a quarter vending machine next to the stale Willy Wonka runts. I suggested a few cheap rings on Etsy but upon further investigation, they would all take forever to ship because they were coming from far off destinations like Israel and Hong Kong.
What if we just looked together, real quick? No commitment to buy, just a looksie at styles and prices. Plus, I didn't even know my size.
I knew we were priced out of most of the major jewelers (the ones that run Valentine's Day commercials, anyway). We could try the mall but I try to never step foot in that place.
We knew we wouldn't be spending the traditional and ridiculous 3-months salary suggestion. Our more modest price range was $200-$500.
The bizarre solution? Kohl's. Hear me out.
We arrived at the jewelry counter on a Saturday evening and it's practically abandoned. This was a good day to ring shop, it was the Saturday after Black Friday. Unbeknownst to us, all jewelry was 50%.
Suddenly we were a bit more than interested in just getting a ring size and jetting out.
Kohl's has a plethora of cheap rings that look cheap. But, they also carry a Simply Vera collection, some of which are really cute and priced well.
When we narrowed it down to a few rings in that collection, the woman at the jewelry counter asked if we would want to open a Kohl's card for an additional 30% off.
I hate store cards. Every other time I've been asked this question (and it's been hundreds of times!), I answer with an immediate, "No, thank you." I think store cards are generally terrible.
However, the savings here seemed worth the temporary drop in my credit score from an inquiry. My score was over 800 and I knew it could handle the hit. Moreover, we certainly had the cash to pay for the ring. After buying the ring, we headed straight to customer service and made a payment to the new Kohl's card in the amount of the purchase.
What was our damage?
Original price: $1,850.00
- $1480 (50% Black Friday sale, 30% discount for opening and paying with a Kohl's card)
+ $37 (10% tax)
$407 total paid
- $105 back in Kohl's cash ($15 for every $50 spent, pre-tax total)
- $11.10 back from Find & Save (offer was 3% back on $30+, pre-tax total)
$290.90 revised total, including tax (84% savings)
Wait, what? So 50% off all jewelry and an additional 30% off for opening a Kohl's card. Then, we got $105 in Kohl's cash to spend as we pleased (we bought 10 new, soft towels that we really wanted/needed and spent the rest on Christmas presents). When we got to the parking lot, I remembered I had seen an offer in the Find & Save app to get some cash back at Kohl's so I took a picture of the receipt. From that app, we got back $11.10.
Several months into our thrifty engagement, I'm glad we did it the way we did. Here's what we discovered:
It's okay to bring the lady shopping. I, Miss Thrifty, am a control freak. At first Mr. Spendy wanted to surprise me but ultimately, I'm so happy that I was included in the process. I got a ring that both of us like and I know that we got the best deal we could have because two heads were better than one. After living together for four years, very few things are truly a surprise. We had been talking about an engagement and in our relationship, it seemed natural to shop together. However, the actual proposal was a total surprise. (He held on to the ring for weeks! I was going to die of impatience!)
It's okay to shop off the beaten path. In our case, Kohl's was not on our radar and was just an off-handed suggestion for a low-pressure place to get a ring sized. I know that had we headed to a Kay, Jared or Zales, we would have been uncomfortably upsold or even embarrassed for our price range. Check out online stores, antique stores, etc.
It's okay to deliberately limit your choices. I'm not a happy shopper and get easily overwhelmed by the whole experience. Shopping at Kohl's was perfect for me, the anxious shopper. We (accidentally) selected just one store and one line of rings within that store. From there, our price range left us with just four rings as viable options (all of which I really liked). A choice between four rings was much easier than all of the rings in the world. The paradox of choice was at play here and I'm so grateful to have had a stress-free experience. Consider limiting yourself to one cut, one style, one store, one designer, one narrow price range, etc.
It's okay to admit that you're plain. I don't wear much jewelry. A giant rock on me would be out of character and just plain weird. I would have been super pissed if Mr. Spendy had proposed with something too ostentatious, or worse, something bought on credit.
It's okay to be young and broke. I'm wholeheartedly against displays of false wealth (don't get me started on my social media rant). We're sort of poor, and that's okay. Poor people can get engaged, too. Adopt a stance like this brave wife when she took to Facebook in defense of her small engagement ring.
Engagement rings symbolize many things, most importantly love and commitment. When I look down at my ring, I think of how me and Mr. Spendy worked together crunching numbers and getting the best deal possible. I see how my ring symbolizes a turning point in our relationship when Mr. Spendy decided to get on board with financial values that will set us up for success together. I look at my engagement ring and think, "We did good."
How much did you spend? Are you happy with your ring choice and price point? Any other tips for those seeking a thrifty engagement?