As I’m sure you’ve heard, the old adage advises an engagement ring should cost roughly the equivalent of two months’ salary.

The most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that works out to roughly $6,400, on average.

That’s not too far off from the average engagement ring cost of $5,978, according to The Knot’s 2015 Bridal Jewelry Trends Report.

However, a recent GOBankingRates survey of 5,000 adults indicates that popular opinion on how much an engagement ring should cost reflects a stark contrast with reality.

By far, the most popular response to “How much do you feel should be spent on an engagement ring?” wasless than $1,000.

Only 7% of respondents felt that the national average cost of $5,978 was the right price tag.

Answers varied by age range, as can be expected, but the overarching theme is that no single price range is right for everyone.

So, how do you decide how much to spend on your engagement ring?

Start with choosing one of these four strategies:

Set a Budget and Stick to It

This is the most common strategy, according to The Knot’s survey.

45% of participating brides and grooms said they set a budget and stuck to it. Another 29% set a budget, but exceeded it, while 10% more set one, but stayed under the allotted amount.

Combined, that means 83% of couples went into the engagement ring shopping experience with a budget in mind.

The downside to this strategy? It limits your options right off the bat.

If you set a certain budget before heading in to check out any rings, you may find that your budget is going to leave you (or your fiancée-to-be) disappointed.

Instead of budget first, ring second, you could …

Ring Shop, Then Save

Especially if this is your first major jewelry purchase, you may wind up with a more satisfying result if you determine exactly what parameters your ring must meet to satisfy your expectations before determining a hard-and-fast budget.

Make a date of it and do some ring shopping together. After all, 66% of brides-to-be participate in the engagement ring shopping process, again according to The Knot.

If you’re willing to stick out the pre-engaged phase for a little while, picking your dream ring and then saving up to pay for it straight-up is a great option.

Finance Your Ring Purchase

Already have a dream ring in mind? One that doesn’t quite match your cash flow?

If waiting to get engaged isn’t an option, or at least isn’t a preferable option, there’s always financing.

Just keep in mind that whatever debt you take on pre-marriage will follow you both into your married years, when you’re likely to accumulate more debt from additional large purchases.

Money Under 30 has a great guide to financing an engagement ring.

Buy Smart, Upgrade Later

Maybe you have a particular type of ring in mind, it doesn’t fit your current budget, but financing doesn’t appeal to you either.

Consider choosing a more affordable ring now, with a plan to upgrade a few years down the road.

Many jewelers have trade-in programs that allow you to purchase a new piece for up to double the value of the item you’re trading in. If you’re not overly sentimental about the exact diamond presented in the proposal, this route could be just right.

Even if you aren’t too keen on parting with the memory-laden diamond that made you a fiancée, you can always work with your jeweler to choose or design an affordable ring that’s conducive to upgrading without sacrificing too much of its original integrity.

In Conclusion

How much should an engagement ring cost? In the end, it should cost as much as is right for your preferences, goals, and budget.

Hopefully the four strategies above help get you started in the right direction.

A good rule of thumb in choosing a diamond jewelry appraiser is if you don’t know where to go to get jewelry appraised…read your local jewelry appraiser reviews. If you only choose one item, a diamond ring appraisal would probably be your best choice.  Also, if your purpose is to sell diamond jewelry, a current jewelry appraisal will help you decide a better selling price.