How to Hack Your Prom Budget, Save Big Money, and Get Upgrades

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prom night

It’s that time of year when parents of teens can shell out lots of money for “the prom”. For some, this starts out in the junior high years and goes all the way through high school graduation.According to Visa Inc.’s annual prom survey, the average household will spend $1139 on prom this year. That figure could be a bit low depending on where you live!

CBS News reports that parents foot about 59% of the bill while the teens take care of the remaining 41%. So what can be done to keep the cost of this big event down to a more reasonable and manageable size?

Here’s a few suggestions that can go a long way in the money saving department:

Save on flowers – Shop for flowers at your local grocery store. Check online tutorials for ways to make professional-looking flower arrangements. Or pick up inexpensive silk flowers from your local craft store and do the same thing. Some craft stores hire people that are talented in the area of floral arranging. It doesn’t hurt to ask for help.

Save on hair salons – If you’re looking for an up-do, salons can charge a lot to prom goers. Instead, try doing it yourself with the help of a friend or online tutorials. If that doesn’t work for you, check the local beauty or cosmetology schools. Charges here are much less than the regular salons.

Save on nails – Again, if this is something you can’t do yourself or with a friend, beauty schools are another resource for less expensive ways to have your nails done.

Save on make-up – Ditto on trying out the beauty school. However, another way to go is to have a free make-over done at the cosmetic counter in one of your local department stores. Skilled associates are generally willing to provide one-on-one consultations for their customers. Be aware that they are also hoping that you will buy one of the products they used on you. If you can resist buying the products, the free make-over itself will help you learn some techniques to get a professional look.

Save on dresses – Don’t have a thing to wear? Maybe you do have a dress that you’ve worn before and can alter (or have it altered) to give it a new look. If not, check your local consignment shops and thrift stores, before buying new. You’d be amazed at what you can find. Fancy party and formal dresses are often only worn once or twice. You can pick up a gently used dress at the fraction of the cost of a new one. Plus, some communities and schools have dress sales or swaps before prom time just for this purpose. Also, check for dress rentals. Often, bridal shops rent dresses. This, too, can be a much cheaper way to go.

Save on accessories – For purses, shoes, jewelry, or ties for the guys, check to see what you already have in your closet before buying something new. Or maybe a friend or relative has something you can borrow. It doesn’t hurt to ask. If you can’t come up with something, shop the discount/clearance racks.

Save on the Limo – If you can’t drive yourself and just have to have that limousine, shop around for the best hourly rate and fees. Sharing the limo and the cost with other couples not only makes it more fun, but can significantly cut the cost of the rental. Just want a nice car but don’t need the limo? Check for other possibilities at your local car rental places.

Save on Photography – If the prom committee has set up photography during the big event, it may not be too expensive. However, today’s teens are fairly capable of taking their own pictures, staged or unstaged, from their cell phones and other devices. Parents probably won’t need to worry about not getting enough pictures.

One of the best pieces of advice when it comes to proms, is to set a budget beforehand. If your teen doesn’t already know how to budget, this is a great time for them to learn. Visa has come up with a fun, easy to use, prom-planning app for parents and teens, Plan’itProm.The app incorporates a prom count down, timeline, and budget health meter. Happy planning!