My son, a sophomore was asked to the prom by a foreign exchange student. He turned her down. I wasn’t happy about it because I don’t condone hurting anyone’s feelings and I felt like she should get the American prom experience. But when he explained the expense involved, I understood his reasoning.
Tickets to prom these days can cost more than $100 a piece. And then there’s the $150 to rent a tuxedo and the expense of a dress for the girls. With girls, you also have the hair and nails expense and usually some new makeup. And then there’s the corsage.
And of course, there’s the transportation cost. These days, kids chip in to rent party buses so they don’t drink and drive. I’m all for not drinking and driving. And then, many of them stay overnight in a hotel room. That’s more money out the door. And professional prom photos are more than $100. By the time you’re done, prom can cost more than a thousand dollars.
ABC news reports the cost of going to prom — the perfect dress or tuxedo, a limo, and pre-dance festivities — has risen to a nationwide average of $1,139. That figure represents a 5 percent increase from the $1,078 in 2012 that American families who have a teenager attending a prom spent on all aspects of the dance.
My son, who spends his own money on entertainment, explained to me that he’s just not willing to shell out big bucks when he’s only a sophomore and for a girl he likes only as a friend. I get that.
What surprised me was a VISA survey that found the families that could least afford it, spent the most on prom. Single parents spent more than married parents. According to Visa, on average, parents plan to pay 59% of prom costs, and their teens will cover the remaining 41%.
The worst part of the trend is that the expense of prom is expected to continue to rise.
There are parents who have come up with ways to rein in the costs. It takes a lot of budgeting and pre-planning.
Here are a few tips from Time Magazine:
- Shop for formal wear at consignment stores or online. Many outlets rent tuxedos and formal dresses and accessories.
- Have make-up done at a department store’s cosmetics department or enlist a friend to help.
- Split the cost of a limo with other couples, or simply drive.
- Take pre-prom photos yourself and have the kids use cell phones for candid shots at the events.
- Work out a prom budget in advance and set a limit for how much you will contribute. If teens want to spend more, encourage them to earn the money first.
Like most parents, I’m a sucker for prom. I want my kids — when they are seniors — to experience the high school rite of passage. So, even with the high price tag, I’ll encourage them to attend and chip in to pay. But that doesn’t mean I can’t complain about the cost. Right?