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Ignoring the tradition of spending two month’s salary on an engagement ring, Angel Melgoza spent half a month’s salary to secure his wife, Valerie’s, long-term commitment.

“I felt our wedding was more important, as well as the honeymoon,” explains Melgoza, 34.

He paid $1,700, in 2015, for a three-fourths carat marquis with two blue diamond wedding bands. And he’s not alone. In fact, more and more young couples have knocked the idea of buying an expensive engagement ring down a couple notches on their priority list – if it’s still there at all. The most popular amount to spend on an engagement ring is now less than $1,000.

The New Engagement Ring Norm

According to the Melgozas are among the nearly 50 percent of Americans ages 25 to 34 who think less than $3,000 should be spent on an engagement ring.

Without the anxiety of spending a fortune on a ring, couples can plan a more extravagant honeymoon, a more lavish wedding or even save toward purchasing a home. After all, getting engaged is an exciting time in your life. It doesn’t have to be a stressful one!

For many people the former tradition of spending two months’ earnings on a diamond is a lot of money, especially if they have student loan debt to pay off every month or just prefer their monthly splurges.

What’s Behind the Shift

One reason young couples aren’t prioritizing funds for the bling of a glitzy ring may be the environment in which they grew up.

Combine the great recession of 2008 with the rise of financial planning awareness and you get a new generation seeking to revolutionize the engagement ring buying process. Today’s modern couples are tending towards preferring the pursuit of positive memories over the fleeting value of an expensive engagement ring.

For many, memorable experiences carry more weight than materialistic items, and most people now seem to prefer splurging on the actual proposal event rather than on a trinket symbolizing their love.

The socially accepted amount you should spend on an engagement ring has trended down as more people are discovering that the large diamond engagement ring is not a requirement.

The Best Ways to Spend Less

Spending less doesn’t mean you have to buy a low quality ring. Follow these tips below and you’ll be on your way to finding a more affordable sparkler.

Shop Online: Reputable discount jewelers online offer more affordable engagement rings because they don’t have the high overhead costs of a brick and mortar store.

Diamond Alternatives: You can even consider a less expensive diamond alternative like white sapphires or moissanite.

Manmade Diamonds: Custom-made can be more cost efficient by choosing metals and different colored stones. An added benefit is that manmade diamonds cost significantly less than mined ones and it’s hard to tell the difference.

These options and others make the ring buying experience even more personal to each couple. Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, and that goes for engagement rings as well.

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