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September 28, 2012


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It seems as though a lot of people missed this simple economics concept when deciding whether to make purchases based on what they want and can afford rather than what they think they "should have" or deserve to have during the past decade or two.

Your diamond ring analogy could be applied to almost anything - a bigger house, nicer car, better neighborhood, etc. All in good time and based on what you really need is a foreign concept to most folks. Do we really need two Iphones?

We live according to our own blueprint. Having said that, I do have a diamond ring. It was a gift from my husband when he proposed marriage. I did not participate in the purchase of it, but I joyfully accepted it. I also have a simple gold band that I often wear which represents my vows just as well.

I may not always comment, but I am reading what you have to say and I value your perspective.


Thank you thank you, I have been passing your words of happiness wisdom along to Mark.....Love the Laura Vanderkam connection and can't wait to read the newest book.


and of course page 70!


Syd, you are so stinkin' funny! Thank you for the many little laughs this article delivered.

One of my first and most lasting financial impressions was from "Your Money or Your Life." (I trust you know of it . . . seem's most everyone interested in living beneath their mean's does) In it the authors made the connection not just between the life energy necessary to purchase items, but also the life energy necessary to maintain them. Not much maintenance on a diamond ring of course, but certainly much maintenance involved in buying a bigger car, bigger house, bigger boat, etc.

Such a simple little lesson, but so powerful!

Retired Syd

Suzanne and Tamara: Full disclosure here. I have a big house. (Big house, no ring. Is that anything like all hat, no cattle? I guess not.) So I'm all for spending whatever money you want on stuff you want. Diamond ring or house. You just gotta want it more than you want the other stuff it could buy. (Luckily in a pinch, I could sell the house and get a few more years of retirement out of the deal if need be.)

And Tamara, that's about the best thing you could ever say to me, that I made you laugh!

Amy: I almost included a photo of your wedding for this post! Picked something a little more anonymous instead.


No disclosure necessary (plus I think you already 'fessed up about your big home in an earlier post here somewhere . . . ). There is nothing wrong with buying a big house if you are also comfortable with the upkeep and maintenance that goes along with it. It's only when we forget to calculate and include the ongoing cost of caring for our homes, cars, boats, etc., into our financial calculations that we get into a pickle, so to speak.

Bob Lowry

When Betty and I got married all I could afford on my DJ salary was about 1 millionth of a carat. After several years that ring lost its tiny diamond on the ski slopes in Utah. We replaced it with something a bit bigger and that promptly went down a sink drain in Tucson.

Betty decided the ring isn't at all important so she has been ringless for quite a while. My fingers shrunk when I lost weight. The cost to re-size my wedding band seemed silly so I went ringless, too.

36 years and counting....the rings were only a symbol, and a not very important one at that.

Retired Syd

Bob: Wow, that's taking it to a whole 'nother level!


Thanks for the laugh. It's amazing how many people don't get this simple point. When we got married we also had simple bands and no engagement rings. A friend once told me you can have everything you want, not all at once. I also will have to check out the book, once I wade through the new Ken Follett history.


When we married, oh, about 40 years ago we were happy, but broke students.I wore, and still wear, a gorgeous wedding band that belonged to my grandmother. I gave my husband a wedding band that was my Mom's from her first marriage (no, it wasn't bad luck,really it's ALL WE COULD AFFORD! ) (My family are big re-cyclers! )

I have to laugh.I never told anyone about Ken's ring till now. I guess after this much time I figure no one can say it was bad luck..we're still MARRIED! :-) He STILL wears that ring, by the way.

Over the years we (mostly) ended up with gainful employment, and once in a while the idea of a diamond ring would come up.But, one year I thought LEATHER FURNITURE for my living room would be nicer.Then another year, a CRUISE was MUCH MORE FUN than a ring. Now, we save so we can DO other really fun stuff, not OWN more stuff .

I don't think about diamonds anymore.. my hands are always in the dirt of the garden or up to my elbows in glue,doing my craft projects.. and RETIREMENT is much more fun than diamonds!!!!!!!!!! (I'm retired, he is not, yet.. but we're working on it..)

Retired Syd

Madeline: I hear ya sista!

Retired Syd

Barb: I love that quote about having everything you want, just not all at once.


I never understood the fascination with jewelry in general and rings in particular. But I've always assumed it was a male thing.

However, I'd like to expand on your ring lesson by stating my amazement when I read of people who (or whose parents) spend gigantic sums on weddings. (Just how often are you going to wear that extravagant wedding dress?) Wouldn't the couple be better off with a start on a nest egg or downpayment on a house? I don't get it.

I know, just another clueless single guy. (But a thrifty one who retired very early, not coincidentally...)


Well put, dgpcolorado! I couldn't have written it better myself.


"Ditto" on Tamara's no disclosure necessary comment. I never compare or apologize for my "things & stuff."

Re: extravagant weddings, there is so much that could be said about excess - expecially the "borrowed money" kind. What are people thinking??


I agree with Tamara, also about "stuff.." in retirement, we start choosing what's important vs. "having it all" and we also enjoy a home that is a bit larger than we "need..' but it is paid for. We economize in other areas.. and enjoy the whole process.

Retired Syd

Madeline: That's true for me. When it comes to prioritizing what I want to spend my money on, I veer toward experiences over stuff. Those do give me pleasure, and stuff, less so.

deegee and dpg: I wasn't trying to bash wedding rings in particular, and we did spend money on a wedding (that we paid for mostly ourselves). But that was a big party, on parties I will always choose to spend -- experiences over stuff for me. Maybe that's part of the draw of the big house for me, we throw lots of parties.

But the point wasn't to say that spending on one thing is inherently better than spending on something else, just that we are all faced with those choices, and we ought to spend mindfully, picking the stuff or experiences that make us happy. Rather than spending on something that doesn't really add to happiness and then not having money for the stuff that would have.

Purchasing Wedding Rings

I like Purchasing Wedding Rings because it is so cool.


What a timely post! I am 54 years old and getting married for the first time. When my BF asked if I wanted to choose the ring in advance or be surprised, I suggested that he just go to Costco and buy a simple band with a few small stones. Most of my married friends who have "rocks" don't wear them. He chose something much more sparkly than I would have and I just love it! As to the wedding itself, we're just going to have a tiny Civil Ceremony this year and then throw a party some time next year.

Yesterday, we went house hunting because "everyone" says we shouldn't live either of our houses, but should get a "fresh start" in a "new" house. I freaked out at housing prices (there's a mini-rush in our area due to small supply and low interest rates.) Even if we buy something that we can technically afford, the property taxes will be over 8K per year! My feeling is that I'd rather have the sparkly diamond band and pass on the Big White Wedding and the new house.

Retired Syd


Congratulations! On the wedding/ring/house thing, you've got it nailed. That's exactly Vanderkam's point: spend money on the things that will make YOU happy, not on what others tell you you should have to be happy. (On a related note, I have a friend that moved into her husband's house when they got married. She initially thought she didn't want to live in the house where he lived with his former wife. But guess what? It didn't matter! Turns out they are very happily married, which probably would have happened wherever they chose to live! They are remodeling now, which is another option you might consider.)

Beverly Diamonds

I like the photo of the flower so much, you make a great point between wedding rings and retirement also. Thank you for sharing.

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