This post may contain affiliate links at no additional cost to you.
The older I get and the more I learn about the world and other humans…the more convinced that there must be something wrong with me.
Like I still think paying back debt, saving money, and taking advantage of the logic between money and time should be done by everyone. I grew up believing that everybody making anything near $80k a year saved 50% of their money. That was the norm in my clueless head. Saving money (for those who can afford to save) should be natural, like breathing. Did you know that the US national savings rate is only 2 to 5%. of income?
Does that federal figure include the likes of Bill Gates, Oprah, and Buffett?! That can’t be statistically correct. Someone dropped a 0 somewhere on the savings rate….and added an extra 0 to the average wedding budget. It’s apparently $32,000 for an average wedding!
When Mr. Hippo (my husband) and I decided to get married, we decided on Jack in the Box burgers for dinner. It was something fast we can pick up on the way home.
Courthouse stuff, get in-get out, go home so we can feed the dog. I like dressing up and looking pretty…but everything else kills the entire experience for me. My dream wedding was pretty much to sit around in a poofy sparkly dress, eat churros, and watch Netflix. So besides the poofy dress, I did get my dream wedding.
At that time, my husband and I were worth maybe $650,000 and this was BEFORE we realized that was an odd amount for two 20-something-year-olds. We didn’t know anything about personal finance at the time. Our Jack in the Box wedding wasn’t related to issues of money. Obviously how much you spend on a wedding has nothing to do with the marriage success rate. Technically, it’s one of the more narcissistic events in the human tradition. Who the hell cares about who you’re sleeping with at the end of the day beside you.
New Kids On The Block
Ayeeee brothers and sisters! We millennials are the new kids on the block, like it or not, and businesses need to start adapting to us!
I remember reading how The De Beers Company is having a hard time selling their age-old marketing strategy to millennials. Goddamn about time. They’re a not-so-moral company with a history of misbehavior. But they’ve been dominating the industry since…before Elizabeth Taylor stepped onto the silver screen.
They created the diamond crave off an extremely effective market campaign that self-propagated for decades. Diamond = girl’s best friend = love = forever = your worth as a human being. It almost rivaled the reaches of the Beanie Baby craze.
(Beanie baby still wins out though, they were literally just plain stuff animals after all.)
But big, BIG kudos to DeBeers marketing department! But the magic is starting to rub off…
1) It could be the student debt load crossing over $1.3 trillion US or
2) It could be because we’re smarter and soberer about how little a ring has to do with fixing up a 50% divorce rate or
3) The fact that people are more aware of where a lot of diamonds actually comes from now and is grossed out or
4) Maybe looking down and seeing something sparkly just isn’t that exciting thanks to the ultra-violent video games we grew up with or
5) Lastly, participation trophies are the only bling we’ll ever need or
6) Maybe it’s something as simple as not liking the feeling of a ring or you (like us) simply don’t give a crap about this tiny, overpriced merchandise telling the world of your business.
OK, deviant opinions aside…I have nothing against fine jewelry in it of itself. I do like sparkly things…because it’s so shiny!!!
It’s the industrial, social, and sales pressure this millennial can’t stand.
Well, actually, I shouldn’t say sales pressure as a millennial. My international Airbnb guest wanted to check out American mall stores so I took her to Macy’s and Tiffany’s. We were followed by the store assistants. They thought we were there to steal something and was very suspicious of every piece we wanted to see out of the case. I guess I shouldn’t have worn normal civilian clothes or looked my age if I wanted them to legally try to rob me at the mall’s jewelry counter.
It doesn’t matter if you can afford it. It’s a waste of money if it’s not something you really, really want. Make it means something to you. Celebrating love and togetherness as a couple can be done in a lot of unique ways.
Their marketing department is making sure the only point that comes across is the message to buy a new piece of shiny from them. You may not have had a chance to think about it all yet, but now you’re interested and that’s why you’re here.
14 Inexpensive Alternatives to Wedding Rings
This post may contact affiliate links at no extra cost to you. Please read our disclosures for more info.
1. Lab-Grown Diamonds
This is NOT cubic zirconia which is biochemically a slightly different product.
This new lab-grown diamond IS actually a diamond right down to the atoms.
Lab-made diamonds is the industry name for the process of growing a diamond artificially above ground using the science of technology. These synthetic diamonds are the same composition as “real” diamonds below ground except they were grown in a highly-controlled laboratory setting that was designed to simulate the Earth. The results yield real diamonds on the same biochemical makeup but for a better price. The difference is undetectable under a microscope.
That makes diamonds much less special, huh? Did you know that diamonds aren’t even rare? The industry artificially inflates the price to create competition. According to my army veteran friend, Moose, you can find tiny rocks of diamond in the poorest sections of Africa next to bodies of lakes. It’s nothing special there.
You can expect the price of diamonds to drop off soon.
2. Another Gemstone
I took a quiz and it said I needed more this. It looks like something that fell out of my soul (image on the left). :p
Now this is the perplexing thing, there are so many stunning gemstones out there that are equally if not more so stunning than a diamond at a fraction of the cost too. These gemstones come with their own history and meaning which adds a level of personalization one does not get with a traditional diamond. You can do birthstones (in the month of the receiving partner) or a stone that pairs well with their chemistry and tone.
3. Fruit Trees
I read about people growing succulents for their partner as gifts but planting a tree together sounds more romantic in the long run 🙂 For my 25th birthday, he bought me a spider plant because I complained about our indoor air quality. He did a little research and learned that spider plants can help purify the air indoors without being harmful to dogs. It was a very sweet gesture and I still love my spider plants 2 years later. It’s a lot better than any ring because he listened and responded to my needs.
If my husband knew me (and he should) he would know to go out and buy a baby avocado tree and a baby lime tree…because those are the two things I complain about buying at the store. They’re a wee bit expensive for the little things that they are…ah, you can’t make good food without fresh lime or real avocados!
Everybody jokes about this one.
“Ohhh, it’s going to be a b**** to remove if you guys broke up.”
Now that is definitely true. It’s not as easy as slipping off a gold loop. But getting a small tattoo done cost less than a wedding ring, compared to an actual ring from the mall and there is a 50/50 shot that there would be NO divorce and everyone lives happily ever after, right?
I’ve thought about getting a ring tattoo before. There are a lot of amazing tattoo artists in Seattle even for a simple design. However, you have to worry about professionalism at the workplace; for my husband especially. I once took a sharpie to both our ring fingers and that worked pretty well too, for a day. Think this one thoroughly!
5. Find an Heirloom
If you’re lucky enough to inherit your grandmother’s ring or have a great aunt somewhere to ask…oh boy am I jealous of you! It’s coming with the family history and I’m guessing probably at a discount if it’s a nice gammy. The biggest downside is probably the resizing, resetting, recut, repair, or an entire redesign that needs to transpire when a ring exchanges hands. Despite all that mess, a piece of history is still my first choice because if you think about it, an ornamental object…at this caliber in price, is highway rip off but it could be meaningful highway rip off.
We are nothing without our history.
6. Qalo Rings
Qalo is a brand of silicon rings made for athletes with active lifestyles. It’s also a cool way to say FU to the classic ring industry. Qalo’s silicon rings are really affordable coming in at around $30. You can even design a custom one with unique color, print, and words here.
7. Engraved Wallet Cards
I thought this one was adorable. It’s simply a credit card size piece of metal sheet and you can get anything custom engraved on it. It’s a growing and popular product on Etsy. Since everybody still carries a wallet and credit cards around with their phone everywhere. It comes in pretty handy when you’re having an offbeat day to take it out and read it knowing the person you’re going home to loves you no matter what. There are some with a heart shape portion punched out and the punched out piece gets made into a necklace for the gifter. THAT’S SO FREAKIN’ CUTEEEEE.
….I think…I think I just talked myself into a birthday present for my husband this year LOL! That’s not a bad idea! Shhhhhh.
8. Matching Pillow Cases
My college dormmate did actually have one of these Boldloft matching pillowcases. The other half was with her boyfriend who attended another university across the world. As sappy as those two lovebirds were, I was pretty jealous of that pillow. It is such an adorable design and it’s obvious in a way that it’s HALF of a complete design so even if you’re not with that person, anyone else seeing it would know you have someone special in your life.
This was their cheesy design pillowcase. I had to stare at the girl blushing pillow for an entire year. Did I mention I was jealous of them both? Yup, that means it’s an effective and sweet gift.
9. Wedding Ring Necklace
From a comfort standpoint, a small necklace tends to be less obtrusive than a ring that could snag or chafe. It’s a lot harder to lose too because taking off and putting on a necklace takes half a decade with those tiny hook links.
10. Recycled Vintage Rings
Disclaimer: I’m a U.S. history freak. If you have anything *aesthetically* belonging from 1920 to early 1950s, I’ll likely love it. Skip the 60s and 70s. But I’m back in the game when we hit glam rock in the 1980s.
(Watch 100 Years of Engagement Rings on YouTube! My favorite is the 1920s, 40s, and 50s.)
Anyway, I believe it was Luxe who told me about Erstwhile. They’re a company based in New York and they specialize in reclaimed vintage rings and diamonds. What attracted me to that website was simply the smell of history behind some of these recycled diamond rings. It’s not a piece of diamond mined yesterday. Recycled and restore, the best part is for the history freaks because some are old enough to have history.
“Choosing to go vintage, you are eliminating the need for more mining and lessening the demand for new diamonds.” – Erstwhile
For $2,000 upwards $25,000 you could own an old diamond designed in art deco style circa 1920. You can’t find that level of detail and craftsmanship at some Jared’s at your local mall.
I told MY Jared if I ever got tired of pitying looks people give me when I’m walking around with our baby and no ring on my hands (GASP unwed young mother!) I might fold and buy something from Erstwhile because they have the vintage art deco style that I like. No one hold their breath though…I’m not that trigger happy with money.
But buying recycled diamonds is a more conscious choice for the discerning if you wanted to be discerning over diamonds 🙂
11. Handmake Something
I love this option because there’s so much fun to be had for both parties. Maybe it’s your own bounded book or a painting or just a pretty rock. Our dog gives us rocks, acorns, and sticks she likes; we have a box of her gifts. I appreciate her efforts 🙂
Whatever it is, just make sure you get plenty of practice in because if that handmade item looks like a dump, your beloved would be stuck wearing it for the rest of their life. Unless it’s that cute dump look, then they’ll love it because it’s from you.
12. Something Meaningful
A meaningful piece of jewelry requires some planning and communication. My Hippo doesn’t really know why everytime I see a swallow I get soft like soft serve.
Is anyone a Miyazaki fan? One of my favorite Studio Ghibli films is Howl’s Moving Castle.
You know the scene where Howl turns into a giant bird (a swallow?) has a lot of meaning to me. When I was a little girl in China, we had a swallow’s nest right above our red door. The swallow would fly in every year and lay her eggs and raise her babies. She was a fantastic mommy bird and kept her noisy babies well fed.
I grew up as a little girl every day watching that while I played in the backyard. It was a celebration everytime this bird came back to our house because it’s considered good luck. It means someone’s protecting the family because swallows are considered to be incredibly brave birds. So in the movie climax, Howl turned into a swallow (symbolizes bravery) to rescue Sophie even though he’s a self-proclaimed coward.
I really like that touch because it connected two beautiful memories I had in my life. You know….what it means to have a family to protect.
Anyway, on Studio Ghibli’s anniversary, they released Howl and Sophie rings (link to eBay) and I thought that was sooooooo cute. Unfortunately, the Japanese releases are too big. I’m a ring size 4 and their only size is a 12! It doesn’t look to be resizable because of the interior engraving. I’m still on the fence about getting them vs getting it custom-made on Etsy.
But yeah. It’s one of those things that I have a soft spot for and because of that, these two relatively inexpensive anime rings mean a lot more to me than….something from Tiffany’s.
13. Onion Rings
Lol, wait, hear me out!
I don’t know if people remember this obscure scene from The Simpsons but I do. It’s a flashback episode where Homer and Marge are 2 broke newlyweds and Homer was having trouble finding a well-paying job to support his newly growing family. When they couldn’t pay their bills, the repo men came and repossessed Marge’s wedding ring.
Homer feels so ashamed he ran away and promise to not come back until he was a man with a good paying job. Later, Marge found him working as a trainee in a Krusty Burger as a fry cook. She told him it doesn’t matter what ring he gets as long as it’s from him.
And then Homer took an onion ring and put it on Marge’s finger.
The early Simpson writers were geniuses. I was a teenager then but I was still balling my eyes out and laughing my head off.
…and thissssssss could be why I subconsciously went to Jack in the Box for our wedding. O_O!!!
14. Feel Free to Do Nothing
Gold is a bad investment. Jewelry, like cars, doesn’t retain their original sales value *unless* you can afford to buy it from Cartier or Tiffany with all proof of purchase and packaging intact (as long as it comes in that pale blue box right…) But even then it could be 20% less of what you got it for after middleman seller fees. Plussss, there’s African cartel blood over most mined diamonds…
If there was ever a symbol of mankind’s greed and obsession with proving themselves better than someone else, it’s jewelry.
Jewelry financed for a hard market markup to loop it around the person you love. This pricey piece of merchandise that you cannot eat, hide under nor use to nurse your children to sleep at night.
It’s very avant-garde if you think about it. And this loony alien woman ranting on the Internet wondering who would consider a piece of earthy metal and element as anything over another man’s life, worth, or his purpose.
So I’m just saying, if you want to do nothing, do nothing.
I thought my in-laws were going to rip into me like a monkey on a cupcake when I told them we decided not to do anything. They were disappointed for 5 minutes and moved on. Because they secretly know it themselves: it’s all a big inconvenience.
Do nothing, don’t even read lists like this, you don’t need to prove to anyone how much you love any person except making sure to treat them in kind for the rest of your life.
Top $ Resources That I Use
Personal Capital: Sign up and use their net worth calculator for FREE. They are a free financial service platform that helps you analyze your portfolio, retirement, and financial health all on one simple & secure account.
Ibotta: I thought this app was overrated before trying it myself. The “any item” promos instantly save you money after scanning your grocery receipt. Ibotta also hosts promos and contests for your team to save more by working together. One of the guys on my Ibotta team list has earned and saved over $100,000 using Ibotta. You can get $10 if you sign up through my link.
Robinhood: A stock trading smartphone app that lets users buy and sell individual stocks for free, without any hefty trading commissions. Individual stocks are more volatile so do your research and invest wisely. You can get a free share of stock when you sign up.