So, the time has come. You’ve been dating your best friend for long enough to know that they’re the one you want to raise hell in a nursing home with, the one you want to stay up all night talking to, the one you want to go through all of life’s crazy curveballs with. They’re your person. And you want to shout it from the rooftops, show all of your friends and family that you mean forever. To put it in simple terms, you like it, and you want to put a ring on it.

First off, congratulations! A love like this does not take place overnight. You must be madly in love right now, probably glowing from all that love you’re radiating. Look at you!

But with all the excitement comes a lot of questions and potentially, a lot of stress. There is the question of where and when you want to propose, how you want to propose, and what ring you should even get? What are the basic dos and don’ts? Perhaps most nerve-wracking of all, how much money do you need to save to buy this ring when you do find it? And what are you supposed to do in the meantime?

Deep breaths there, tiger, we’ve got you covered.

How Much Should You Spend on the Ring?

Exactly $20, that’s it! Just kidding. If only it were that easy (or that cheap). In all actuality, there are quite a few factors that must be considered before you can answer this question; what your budget really is, what kind of ring is best for your love, how much income you’re making at your job, etc. Regardless, for something this significant, you are going to need to spend some time planning.

The Two Months’ Salary Rule and Why It Sucks

You may have heard the long-proclaimed standard of “two months’ salary” as the answer to how much you should spend on an engagement ring. It’s sort of… a load of crock. Unsurprisingly, this “rule” was created by, you guessed it, a diamond company in a marketing campaign. How much you are capable of spending on an engagement ring has a lot more to do with your savings, your personal financial situation, and what the two of you have discussed and agreed upon.

What’s Her Style?

Maybe you’re dating a woman who has gone into great detail to describe the exact gemstone, cut, setting, and everything else about the ring she wants for her engagement. If she has, that is a fantastic starting point, and that takes out almost all of the guesswork. But that isn’t typically the case.

If that special someone has not told you verbatim what she wants, you may feel a bit in the dark. Don’t worry; there are some good ways to determine what her style is and what she may be into. Is she usually going for a more minimalist style in her jewelry, keeping it simple with small, simple pieces that she can wear with everything? Maybe she doesn’t wear much jewelry at all and loves to keep it understated.

Or maybe she’s all about the bling, everything she has is bejeweled or sequined or bedazzled, and she has made it very clear how important a big, shiny diamond is to her. You should listen and find something that will make her sparkle.

Whatever her style is, that could affect how much money you are ultimately going to spend on her ring. You definitely want to invest in something that’s going to show her you pay attention to what she likes and want her to be happy with her ring. After all, it is ideally going to be something she wears every single day.

Where in the World Are You?

The average price for an engagement ring in the US is around $5k, but that’s just a total national average. Regionally, prices can fluctuate quite a bit, with the lowest average prices being in the southeast.

While we are on the subject of place, let’s talk about where you are thinking about buying this ring from. Is she going to want something from one of the big-name diamond retailers? Is she more of a vintage gal and going to be more interested in an antique ring? Or, you could take it to an online jewelry store where you can scroll to your heart’s content without speaking directly to a salesperson.

Other Financial Considerations

Be honest about how much money you really have in your bank account and how much you have saved. Many of us get engaged in our late 20s, and Millennials and Gen-Zers alike have a very different view of money (and tradition, while we’re at it), as well as a frequently immense amount of student debt.

Maybe you don’t make as much money as you would like, but you would still like to get your partner the ring of her dreams. If that’s the case, it could take a bit longer to save up.

You should also consider if the two of you have plans to move in together. Or if you already live together, if you are planning on taking the next step and purchasing a home together. Maybe a vacation is in the near future for you as a couple.

All of this should also be taken into consideration when shopping for your engagement ring. You do want to go above and beyond to wow your person, but you don’t want to go broke doing it.

Have a Discussion

Though it may seem less romantic, you are planning on joining this person’s life with yours, so your finances are a part of that equation. It’s important that the two of you are on the same page about spending and saving money as a couple. Don’t forget that what comes after the engagement is a wedding and a lifelong marriage. As generational norms are being challenged, the rules surrounding engagement ring etiquette are always changing as well.

If you’d like, it’s totally acceptable to take her window shopping to see what sort of styles, gem cuts, and metals she might like for her ring. Is she more of a solid gold or sterling silver type of person? Does she even want diamonds, or would she prefer something different, like an emerald or ruby?

The easiest way to get the answers to these questions is just to ask. If you’ve gotten to this point, you have probably discussed what you would like your future to look like together, so it won’t spoil the surprise. Honestly, she’ll probably be happy to help steer you in the right direction. Getting an idea of the specifics she’s into will help you create a more solid picture of how much this ring is going to cost you, and from there, all there is to do is save and wait for the right moment.

What Should You Do While Saving?

So, you’ve decided on the perfect ring that is for sure going to result in a yes! Maybe you’re just one paycheck away from being able to afford it, or maybe you’re going to have to wait a few months to get the funds together to make that big purchase. What now? There are a few things you can do to sort of speed along the process.

Save Smarter

Are you frustrated that, with your current spending habits and expenses, it’s going to take longer than you thought to buy that perfect ring? Try budgeting yourself a bit more so that your savings can stack up even faster.

If you haven’t already, start by opening a separate savings account just for the ring. That way, you can have that money reserved out of sight and out of mind, and it can gain some interest while it sits there. If you happen to get unexpected extra cash, go ahead and put it right into that ring account. Try cutting back on extra expenses for the time being; maybe buy the generic brand of your favorite hygiene products and cook more meals at home with your significant other. As an added bonus, you also carve out more time to spend with her.

Plan the Proposal

This could be a whole dissertation in and of itself, but have you given thought to how you are going to propose? If not, now is the time. You’ve been dating this person for some time now, so craft a proposal that she’ll personally enjoy. If her family and friends are of utmost importance to her, make sure they will be there. If she loves theatrics, do something a little bit extra to make the day perfect. No matter how much you spend on her engagement ring, the proposal will make all the difference.