Prom is a milestone many of us recall with equal parts nostalgia and nausea, depending on what we wore and how we behaved! As today’s young adults prepare for the biggest formal of the year, similar factors like who to ask and what to wear are top of mind. For parents, costs are always a consideration and families may be surprised to learn that some prom goers spend upwards of $1,000 on the big dance.
Though kids may want to feel like royalty for their prom, expenses need not require the budgets of kings and queens. Consider these seven tips to reduce prom costs while helping your children create an evening to remember.
1. Create a budget. The key to keeping costs down is to create a realistic budget. Make prom an opportunity to teach your children about budgeting and money management. Have them create a spreadsheet of all the expenses related to the event, and ask them to research prices so estimates are accurate. Once they see how much the dance will cost, talk to them about which expenses are most important and which ones can be economized.
2. Share the cost. Though we want to give our kids the very best in life, going into debt to do so is not smart, nor does it set a good example. Suggest to your kids that they share the cost for prom and contribute money toward the dress or suit, dinner, transportation, flowers and more. Encourage them to chat with their friends about sharing costs too, so everyone’s expenses can be reduced
3. Seek out savings. Help your kids find ways to save money on prom expenses. Show them the value of things like coupons, which are more accessible to today’s tech-minded youth with mobile apps like Coupon Sherpa. Point them toward such money-saving tools as discount gift cards and daily deals, and suggest they haggle for the best price on transportation or tuxedo rentals. Some of these strategies are easier than others, but all offer tools for use beyond prom night.
4. Consider dress-buying alternatives. Purchasing a dress is typically a big expense, especially since the garment will only be worn once. Instead of buying, scan sites like RentTheRunway.com for designer gowns at a fraction of retail prices. Often times, celebrity-worthy dresses can be rented for less than $100. You can also suggest shopping consignment stores and sites like Poshmark, Tradesy or even BridesmaidTrade.com, which offers thousands of formal dress styles for a discount.
5. Get creative. Instead of purchasing boutonnieres and corsages, get creative and make your own from spring flowers, ribbon, fabric and even feathers. Formal photos are unnecessary with selfies dominating social media feeds, but you can make images more special and interactive by offering prom-themed photo booth props printed through sites like Pinterest. You can also offer to host a formal dinner for your kids and their friends to cut down on dining costs (though they should still chip in for the cost of ingredients!).
6. Shop online. Deals on attire and accessories can be found online, the parents and prom goers should be wary of dress scams. Some websites with overseas inventories offer beautiful-looking gowns for very cheap prices, and the garments rarely meet expectations. Quality, fit, color and style can be drastically different than advertised, so it’s better to work with trusted sites and brands. Seek out prom coupons from deal sites for 20% to 40% savings from places like Kohl’s, Macy’s and more.
7. Encourage entrepreneurship. If your son or daughter desires a particularly pricey item, like designer dress or sports car rental, suggest they make additional money to cover the cost. They can take on extra jobs around the neighborhood or sell unwanted clothes on consignment. In fact, Macy’s is partnering with consigner thredUp to help consumers trade gently-used clothing in exchange for a Macy’s gift card. If you have old gadgets laying around, suggest they sell them for cash through sites like Gazelle, Nextworth or Glyde.
Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice. As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine, Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more. In addition, Andrea’s stories have been published among leading publications and sites such as Yahoo!, AOL Daily Finance, CNN Money, Huffington Post, LearnVest and New York Daily News. Visit her website at AndreaWoroch.com for more information.