A ring on her finger ...

Dear Dave,My girlfriend and I have been dating for about three years, and we’re talking about getting married. I have some money saved up and would like to buy her a nice engagement ring. Do you have any guidelines on how much to spend on something like this?Dustin

Dear Dustin,If you’re working a good, steady, full-time job, I think a good rule of thumb for engagement rings is one month’s pay. Some jewelry stores will tell you two or even three months’ pay, but that’s just too much. Lots of people get engaged or married with cheaper rings, and the relationship and the jewelry last just fine.

Trust me, there’s absolutely no statistical correlation between the price of the ring and the length of the marriage!

Jewelry stores have huge mark-ups on diamonds, so make sure you don’t buy it at a typical mall or franchise shop. You want someone who’s a diamond broker, or even a high-end pawn shop. You can save literally 50 percent buying from places like these. But in either case, you need to look around and find someone you can trust, because if you’re like me, you’re probably not a diamond expert.

Remember, too, that diamonds are not an investment. In two decades, I’ve never seen the diamonds I’ve given my wife go up in value. And the whole “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” slogan is just a bunch of advertising hype. Don’t fall for that stuff, either.

Be smart and buy smart, Dustin. It’s a great feeling to give the lady of your life a big sparkling rock, but you don’t have to break the bank to do it!—Dave

Dear Dave,I talked to a friend recently who had interviewed for a job, and he said they pulled his credit score. Why do potential employers need to check up on this?Mitchell

Dear Mitchell,It’s not unusual for big businesses – Corporate America – to do this kind of thing. Typically, most small businesses don’t get into that kind of stuff. Still, some companies use this as a measure of whether or not you’re responsible with money. I can see where it might possibly have some value if you’re going into the financial industry. But I don’t agree with the premise as a whole. I have almost 300 people on my team, and I don’t pull credit bureaus when we hire someone.

Here’s my take on this kind of thing. I wouldn’t want to work for a company that puts more emphasis on my FICO score than on me as a person. If they don’t do in-depth, one-on-one interviews, assess someone’s talent levels, and look at things like their past work history, job performance and education, then I don’t want to work for them. You want someone who is smart enough to hire you because you’re an intelligent, dependable, hardworking person who can deliver the goods!

Honestly, there are so many ways to make a living in this world that there’s no reason to put up with being reduced to a number like that. If some company out there is trying to hire someone by a false measure of success, then in my mind it’s not a company worth working for in the first place!—Dave