It’s prom season, and to your high schooler that probably means a fancy dress or tux, glamorous jewelry, dinner at an expensive restaurant, perhaps a limo and chauffer, and crazy after parties – but to you, it probably only means one thing: $$$$$
Prom is certainly a night that all high school attendees will remember, but that doesn’t mean you have to drain your savings to help pay for that special memory. Even as a teenager, I was fairly money-savvy (I really just hated departing with the little money I had), and my parents weren’t in a place to completely ignore the family budget just because of one special dance. So we made some compromises and worked together to make it a perfect night. I didn’t have a limo or dinner at a 5-star restaurant, but I certainly didn’t miss those things, and neither will your teenager. Here are some tips to avoid breaking the bank when it comes to prom night.
Shop around for the dress, or look for the best deal on a tux. For my senior prom, I fell in love with a gorgeous purple and white dress that I found at a specialty boutique at the mall – but we did not have $300 to spend on it. I knew the style name and number, so I Googled for hours to try to track down the same dress online. It worked! It took a LOT of searching on my part, but I finally found the dress for about $100 on a prom dress website. So shop around, look online for cheaper prices, and don’t be afraid to check out discount bridal stores, which often have prom dresses as well.
Don’t go overboard with accessories. The dress costs enough as it is, so don’t spend another $100+ on shoes, jewelry, and a purse that probably won’t be worn again. No need to buy these things at expensive department stores – chances are your daughter can find what she needs at Claire’s or Icing – or maybe even in YOUR jewelry box! For my shoes, I knew I wouldn’t wear them again so I bought a cheap $20 pair at Payless and they worked out perfectly. Also, no expensive salon hairdo for me – my mom put mine up in a beautiful updo for free.
A limo might seem like a necessity to your child, especially if all his or her friends are planning to do it. I personally thought this was unnecessary because I enjoyed my date driving me himself, because we got to spend more one-on-one time together. But if your son or daughter is adamant about it, try to organize a big group to share one limo, that way it reduces the cost per person, and they’ll definitely have a blast with their friends. If it’s really not in your budget, ask your teen to save up and pay for this luxury with his or her own money.
Dinner at a 5-star restaurant might be tasty, but your kid will never remember much about how the food tasted. We went to a slightly upscale restaurant with moderate prices. This was so much fun because all the families dining out admired my dress and told us how nice we looked. I don’t remember what I ate, I just remember the experience of sharing that time with my date at a nice restaurant.
Prom can be a very expensive experience, so I would also recommend splitting some of the costs with your child. Perhaps you could agree to pay for the dress and accessories if your daughter pays for dinner and transportation. Find the arrangement that works for your family, and your teen will have a night to remember without the heavy price tag.
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