In our last column, we time-traveled back to childhood to identify early lessons about the meanings of money and material things, and we looked at connections between those lessons and the way we handle money as adults. If you see such links, and you’re not happy with their effects on your current financial life, it’s time to make the move from self-exploration to self-change.
I read some astounding statistics the other day during my foray into Google News. According to an article on Kare11.com, American families with teenagers will spend an average of $1,139 each on prom this year. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s a bit excessive; it could buy you about four credit hours of in-state college tuition instead!
Truth be told, I was a prom-zilla my senior year of high school, demanding that my parents foot the bill for the whole shebang. I expected a brand-new dress, shoes, accessories and top-notch beauty treatments for my big night. I also felt that a princess like me deserved a limo ride, and I didn’t exactly want to help pay for the expensive tickets to the dance.
All girls want to feel like royalty on prom night, but it IS possible to do it without busting your budget! Here are some tips for reigning in the prom spending so that you can spend your money on slightly more important things – like college, for instance!
Save on the Dress
Every girl should love her prom dress, but you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to look and feel beautiful. Whether you shop at vintage stores, borrow from a friend, bid on eBay or try a budget beauty store, this article from About.com has great ideas for finding your prom dress cheaper. Believe me, it can be done!
Visit a Makeup Counter
Visit your local department store makeup counter for a free makeup application. You might have to buy a product or two to be polite, but makeup counters are a wonderful, cheap way to get your makeup done by professionals without spending a ton of money.
Check Out a Cosmetology School
Salons are expensive! A blowout or up-do at a salon usually costs about $45 – plus tip. Consider visiting a local cosmetology school instead. Admittedly, it can seem a bit scary to trust your hair to an inexperienced student on the most important night of your life (so far), but I can personally vouch that cosmetology schools are a great place to get your hair done. Every time I’ve visited one, the students were very careful and closely supervised. This can cut the cost of your hairstyle in half – or more.
Ditch the Limo
Yes, rolling up to prom in a limo would be cool. But when you look back on this event, you won’t remember how you got there or how you left – you’ll just remember the good times you had while you were there. Skip the limo; carpooling is just as much fun!
Shop Thrift Stores for Jewelry
Consider the “vintage” look for your prom accessories. If you visit Salvation Army or any other thrift store, you’ll find display cases full of old costume jewelry for just a few bucks a piece. If you’re lucky, some of your older relatives might even have vintage jewelry you can borrow!
It’s important to learn financial responsibility, and prom shouldn’t be an exception. Part of the financial responsibility for prom should fall on the teenager. Parents: If your child has to pay for part of the big night, you can be guaranteed they’ll spend less money! Set a budget, and let your soon-to-be-grad know that they’ll be paying the difference if the expenses exceed your target amount.
The moral of the story is that you can have a good time and feel fabulous without spending $1,100. If you spend enough time bargain-hunting, you’ll be sure to snag a good deal.
How are you saving money on your prom? Share your frugal tips with other parents and teens in the comments below!