Saving on the Cost of Prom

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Prom season is just about here, and that means dresses, limos, makeup and of course, promposals. In other words, a lot of money. A Visa survey in 2015 found that American families were spending an average of $919 for a teen attending prom. And the promposal, which is just asking for the date, represented $324.

The cost total is for everything from dress to dinner, but it still adds up to a pretty penny for one night—one night that some people are spending more than 5% of household income on. For households with incomes below $25,000, plans were to spend an average of $1393 when the survey was taken. Families under the $50k bracket (but over $25,000) actually planned on less, averaging $1109. And parents were footing about 73% of that.

The big spending becomes more noticeable in light of comparison. Canadians had a figure of $402 in average spending plans on the same survey. And to some families, that’s a lot for one night.

Of course, everyone wants prom to be a memorable event; it’s a sort of rite of passage as well as a party. But if the average numbers just aren’t feasible to a family, or if they simply horrify thrifty-minded parents and teens, there are ways to cut costs. Visa highlighted the importance of setting out a budget before embarking on spending and sticking to it.

One option for cutting costs for a tight budget is to shop a resale outlets for clothing and accessories, which might only be used once before the owners put them up for sale. If there’s time for shipping, online outlets like Poshmark, Vinted or ThredUp offer used fashion items.

Another way to save is to do hair, nails and makeup at home. A wealth of tutorial videos now exist online, and a little practice can save up to a couple hundred dollars. Visa added that some department stores have makeup services, which can cost significantly less than those at salons.

Splitting costs on big ticket items like the limo, skipping professional photos and taking pictures at home all can help save a little. Borrowing accessories—or even the outfit—from a friend who has just the right piece to match, throwing a pre- or after-party at home instead of going out for dinner, and going with the budget wedding trick of fake flowers are even thriftier options.

The most important part of the night is to have fun. If worry about cost overtakes the whole thing, then it isn’t fun. And it’s key to remember that more spent does not equal more fun. Sometimes a girls’ prep party for hair and makeup at home is more fun than having a professional do everything, and sometimes it’s more fun than the event itself. Collaboration, creativity and relaxing a little can make great memories, and save a few wallets.

I'm a lover of words in all forms, sweatshirts in all conditions, and God in all circumstances. I particularly enjoy working collaboratively on the written word and wearing microfiber robes (preferably at the same time). Most of the time I don't get enough sleep, but I make a valiant effort.

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