Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How to Save on High School Prom Costs


I was absolutely shocked to learn that on average prom expenses for one teen added up to $1,139 according to this 2013 LA Times story citing Visa's annual survey. You might be as surprised as I was about this statistic, too: Parents earning an income of $50,000 per year or less actually tend to spend 10% more on their teen's prom than those in higher income brackets.

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Tips to Make Your Teen's Prom Dreams Come True

Frugal lifestyle expert Andrea Woroch says that while prom is an important milestone in your teen's life, you don't have to overspend to make it memorable and special. Here are Andrea's top strategies for keeping your budget grounded while helping your teen achieve his or her dream night.

Rent a Designer Dress

You don't have to give up on your daughter's designer dress dream nor drop $300 for a fashionable frock. Instead, consider places like RenttheRunway.com where you can rent a luxury brand dress for the night starting as low as $50. Another option is borrowing a dress from a cousin that might live out of town but that happens to be the same size as your teen. Yet a third idea is to buy vintage at a resale shop or thrift store.

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Share the Expense

Though prom costs are at an all-time high, teens are increasingly sharing in the cost of the event with their parents. In fact, according to the same prom survey referenced at the top of this post, 41 percent of prom costs are covered by teens thanks to savings accrued from after-school jobs. Make sure your teen pays for some of the costs, especially "extras" that you didn't budget for or don't feel are priorities because it might get them to really rethink about needs versus wants for prom night.  

Skip the Limo

Limo rentals can cost anywhere from $60 to up to $150 per hour depending on the type and region. Like most industries, limousine companies increase rental costs during peak periods like prom and weddings. Skip the inflated prices and have your teen use his or her own car or you could even chauffeur them in your vehicle so they get the feeling of being pampered.

Print Photos at Home

Photo packages range from $30 to $125, according to PromGirl. Skip this unnecessary expense by taking your own photos before the dance or get the teens to share smartphone photos taken during the event and then print from home. Those photos you take at home seem cheesy today but years from now your teen will appreciate them and it will bring back fond memories of all the excitement of leaving the house on their big night.

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Department Store Beauty

Make an appointment for a free cosmetic consultation at your favorite department store's beauty counter. Though the beauty artist will urge you to buy the makeup applied, it isn't required. You may consider purchasing the lipstick for touchups later on, but don't fall into the trap of buying everything they try and sell you, otherwise you could end up spending well over $100 just on makeup. Then, do our daughter's hair and nails at home -- not only will she look beautiful, you'll be doing some mom-daughter bonding at the same time.

Cut Corsage Costs

Corsages can cost anywhere from $10 to $30 depending on design and flower type. While corsages and boutonnieres represent some of the smallest costs associated with prom, there's no need to request orchids when carnations will do. Even a corsage made of baby's breath is a simple and stylish way to stay in budget. Come to think of it, if you have a garden or wild flowers where you live why not go outside and pick some buds and create your own DIY corsage for free?

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Buy Budget Accessories

Dresses and shoes eat up a huge chunk of girls' prom budgets, which is why accessories should be purchased on the cheap. Stores like Claire's Claire's, Forever 21 and Charming Charlie offer beautiful baubles for less than $10. You can also hit up thrift shops or antique stores for more unique pieces or even raid mom or grandma's jewelry box for a statement piece to wear. 

Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney.

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