50% of Women Would Prefer This Over an Engagement Ring

Forget sparkling diamonds - the most grand proposal gesture of all might also be the most practical!

ERA Real Estate surveyed 1,000 people in committed relationships and found that 50% of female respondents in their 20s would rather forgo a diamond engagement ring and put that cash towards a down payment on a house. (In fact, 18 percent of participants said they had already skipped getting a ring for this very reason.) Interestingly, there appears to be a generational gap with this perception: only eight percent of women in their 50s and two percent of women in their 60s agreed.

Furthermore, from those surveyed in the ERA study, 89 percent said their love bond was strengthened by buying a home together. With rising housing costs, socking away every little bit counts - according to U.S. Census data, the median sales price of new homes sold in the U.S. was $260,100 in January 2014 . Factor in an unstable job market, student debt, and another potentially huge purchase to save up for - the wedding! - and our dollars are stretched now more than ever before.

Exactly how much would you save by opting not to put a ring on it? Of course, that depends on the quality and size of the diamond, but just as a general ballpark figure, couples paid an average of $4,000 on engagement rings in 2012, according to Jewelers of America. Some grooms spend much more than that: The New York Times reports that the current benchmark price for a high-quality, one-carat diamond is $12,700.

Let's take a vote: How many of you skipped the engagement ring in order to save money for your future together? For all of the nearly-engaged ladies out there, would you be thrilled or secretly disappointed if your fiancé didn't pop the question with a ring box in hand?

Plus, check out this creative proposal we came across online where the bride-to-be was gifted an "engagement car!"

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By Stefania Sainato