6 Ways to Establish a Realistic Prom Budget With Your Teen

Prom expenses can get out of control if you're not careful. Mitch Diamond/ Getty Images

A 2013 survey conducted by Visa showed that the average amount expected to be spent on prom was $1,139. For many families, spending that much money is just not an option. There are several ways to save money on the prom, but before you start saving or spending, you’ll need to establish a realistic budget.

1. Determine What You’re Willing to Spend

Spend some time thinking about what you can realistically spend on the prom.

Present your budget to your teen well in advance of prom shopping. Invite your teen to contribute to the budget. If your teen doesn’t have any money, discuss whether or not there are any opportunities to earn money between now and the prom.  However, it’s important to have a dollar amount in mind so you can determine how you want to spend the money.

2. Create a List of What Your Teen Will Need

Sit down with your teen and discuss what types of expenses will be necessary for the prom – purchasing a dress or renting a tuxedo, any transportation costs, dinner, prom tickets, etc. Don’t forget accessories and other possible expenses that could arise.

3. Prioritize the Items on the List

Invite your teen to number each item on the list in order of importance. The prom outfit should top the list along with the price of prom tickets. Items that may be more of a want than a need, such as renting a limousine should go further down on the list.

  Review the list and ensure that your teen is able to identify which expenses are likely going to be most important and use it as an opportunity to teach your teen budgeting skills.

4. Talk About Ways to Save Money

Discuss potential money-saving ideas. For example, can you skip professional photos by taking your own prom photos at home?

Do you have a friend who can take care of the hairstyle for free? Discuss how much you could save on various items on the list.

Then, assign a dollar amount to each item on the list. Allocate how much you want to spend on the dress or how much you are willing to spend on prom pictures. It’s often best to overestimate how much you think each item will cost at least by a little, to ensure you will have enough money for each item.

5. Keep Track of Your Spending

A budget can quickly get away from you if you don’t track your spending. Write down how much you spend on each purchase and avoid going over your allotted budget.  Give your teen the responsibility to keep track of expenses as well. If your teen isn’t likely to keep a written record, there are plenty of apps or programs that can track spending.

6. Problem-Solve Together

It’s quite likely that unexpected expenses may arise. A dress may need expensive alterations. There may be extra fees associated with a tux rental. When these unexpected expenses arise, you’ll need to make some decisions about where to find the money elsewhere in the budget. You may need to spend less on other items, or cut out the extras altogether. Avoid spending more than you anticipated, however, just because extra expenses arise.

Instead, it can be a great lesson for your teen to learn about the importance of budgeting.

Problem-solve with your teen how to save money on other items on your list. Ask for your teen’s input and work together to stay within the budget. Sometimes, a little creative problem-solving can help keep costs low.

Read More: 5 Conversations Every Parent Should Have With Their Teen Before Prom

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