Parenting And Setting A Prom Night Budget

Help your teen set a realistic budget for prom night and work together to control the costs.

Teens tend to be starry-eyed about prom. After all, it is the biggest social event of their high-school experience. However, as a parent who has spent some time in the real world, you know that the details that make prom night special can easily break the bank. Help your teen set a realistic budget for prom night and work together to control the costs.

Begin by listing all the costs of attending prom. A dress or tux is probably the biggest expense, but there are many other lesser items that will add considerably to the total cost. Begin by making a list of everything that will be needed. Then, make a few phone calls or do some window shopping to get a general idea of prices. When everything has been tallied up, sit down with your teen and figure out how he or she can come up with the money. Decide how much you are willing to contribute, either outright or in exchange for jobs around the house. Most teens do not have a lot of extra spending money. And even if they do, as a parent, it is your job to make your teen think about how they spend, save, and budget it.

If the total cost of attending prom leaves you and your teen with sticker shock, consider some of the following alternatives:

TICKETS

If the school does not already have a program in place, suggest that school officials offer discounted tickets to students who work on the committee that plans prom.

FORMALWEAR

Prom dresses are beautiful, expensive, and usually worn only once. Instead of doling out hundreds of dollars for a dress that is likely to be relegated to the back of the closet after prom night, consider shopping at a nice consignment store. When the price tags are removed, no one will know the difference. (If your teen is horrified by the idea of someone recognizing the dress, shop out of town. She can truthfully say that it's from a specialty store!) When thinking about the cost of the outfit, don't forget to include the price of shoes, special undergarments such as a slip or strapless bra, purse, and jewelry.

Buying a tuxedo is very expensive, but renting one is not as cheap as you may think, either. For nearly as much as it will cost to rent a tux for one night, you might be able to buy a dark suit jacket and pants that can be worn again and again. Think about whether a tux is vital. If so, shop around. Rental prices vary dramatically.

HAIR AND NAILS

Skip the salon and get some friends together to do each other's hair and nails. Make it a fun event and save big bucks. Just be sure to spend some time experimenting with styles beforehand.

FLOWERS

Corsages and boutonnieres are relatively simple to make using fresh or silk flowers, a bit of craft wire and some floral tape. Fresh carnations are inexpensive flowers that hold up well and can be used for either corsages or boutonnieres. Or pin a single rose bud to a lapel for a simple boutonniere or group three rose buds together over some baby's breath for an elegant corsage.

TRANSPORTATION

Limousines have become the transportation of choice for many prom-goers. If your teen wants to arrive at prom in a limo, split the cost with several other couples. Find out how many passengers the limo will hold, and then round up friends. Going in a group will be more fun, anyway.

DINNER

Going out to dinner before prom is a tradition in many areas. Call around to see if any restaurants are offering prom specials. To really save money, consider turning your dining room or patio into a private restaurant for the young couple. Cover the table with a white cloth, set out some candles, and turn on some soft dinner music in the background. Then, put on an apron and serve the couple. Be sure to send away siblings for a few hours.

PICTURES

Often a photographer is on hand at prom to take pictures. These are nice, but some shots in front of a pretty background at home will bring back just as many memories. For fun, candid shots, have your teen take a disposable camera to prom and let friends snap pictures throughout the evening.

PRIORITIES

You and your teen may not want to take advantage of all of these cost-saving suggestions, but by figuring out what's important, he or she can cut back in some areas in order to splurge in others. As a parent, you have now taught them a lesson that they can put to use again and again in their teen years and into adulthood.

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