Young men and women everywhere are getting ready for what many of them have been looking forward to all year: The Prom. Unfortunately, along with rising expectations come rising prom costs. According to Time Magazine, attending a prom this year, 2013, will cost each student or attendee an average of $1,139. That is a 5 percent increase from last year, when the average cost was $807.
Why will it cost more to attend the prom this year? Analysts say that as the economy improves, parents are willing to spend a little more. For teens, the prom is a “social arms race,” one where spending equates status. There is no use for a young lady to show up in a bargain basement dress, if all of her peers are completely blinged out. She’ll run the risk of becoming ostracized. There is also some social status for the parents, as they seek to have their students stand out, and they are willing to pay for it.
What about for those families who really can’t afford the high spending? It seems that they are spending it anyway. In fact, Visa reports that the top prom spenders earn less than $50,000 in income. Those who earn more will actually pay slightly less. Single parents will also spend more than married parents, almost twice as much for their child’s prom.
That race to make a social impact through lavish prom spending makes this one night the exception, for families who have otherwise learned their financial lessons of saving more and reducing debt.
Still there are some smart ways that families can spend their money wisely, even when it comes to creating a memorable time at the prom. Along with the report on prom spending, Visa also makes available an iTunes app, “Plan It Prom,” that will help teens and their families set a budget and track promo expenses.
Other ways to save…
Set a firm budget, and if this doesn’t seem like it is enough for your prom attendant, encourage him or her to earn the extra money. If you shop early enough, you’ll get a good idea of your teen’s expectations and how much money will be needed.
Formal wear, even the latest fashions can be had for half the cost used. If your teen has a prom later than most out there, she’ll have access to a wide variety of gowns that have only been worn once. Check consignment stores and online for the options. The same goes for accessories.
You can can more bling or upscale for your buck when you rent your kid’s formal wear, and this is true whether you have a boy or a girl to outfit.
Save the cost of a hair up do or a make up application by having it done by a friend or a through a beauty school. Make up can also be applied for free at the makeup counter of a department store, leaving you to purchase only items needed for touch ups.
Skip the expensive photos. Allow time to take your own photos before the event and then arm your kids with a camera or smart phone to capture candid shots throughout the night.
Encourage your kids to share a limo (and the expense) with another couple or two. It will be fun for them, and everyone could split the costs.