Budgeting for Prom and Other Large Expenses

If you’re a parent who remembers the “magic” of senior prom as involving a corsage, a decorated gym and some surf and turf at Red Lobster, the 21st century prom date may come as something of a surprise to you. These days, your high school student’s prom has become a much more sophisticated affair; and a more expensive one. Proms now take place in hotel ballrooms; and some of the expectations your child may have could include a limousine rental, hotel room reservations, and even a group breakfast at a local diner. Add in the costs of preparation, such as getting makeup and hair done, tuxedo rentals, formal dress purchases and even tanning sessions – your teenager’s prom can end up costing from a few hundred dollars to even a thousand.

Before prom preparations drive your teenager to an early nervous breakdown, this might be the time to sit down with your son or daughter and do some financial planning around these costs. After all, this may be the first major event they’ve had to fiscally plan for, but it won’t be their last. With a budget and some preparation, you can help them have a night to remember while avoiding a lot of craziness before – and an overspending headache the day after!

First of all, write down all of the expenses you anticipate and go over them with your teenager. Will there be a limo rental? If so, how many people will be riding along, and can they split the cost? Show them how to call around to a few different limousine services and compare prices. These skills will serve them well later in life in all kinds of different contexts.

Second, how much of the cost can your teenager pay for themselves? Making the costs explicit, as well as your expectation that mom and dad are not going to foot the bill for everything, encourages independence and helps your teenager feel they are in control of this aspect of their life.

Finally, suggest places where cost-cutting measures could save everyone money. For instance, do they really need a portrait photographer, or can Dad take the picture with his digital camera? How about that two for one coupon at Red Lobster? With proper planning, the prom can be an opportunity to build skills, as well as make memories.