You paid how much for prom?
April 30th, 2012
10:51 AM ET

You paid how much for prom?

By Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - Take a moment to think back on your high school days – if you dare – and imagine it’s prom season. What would your parents have said if you asked for $1,000 for the dance and all the expenses associated with it?

Today’s parents are saying yes, according to a survey recently released by Visa Inc. In fact, the average amount of money that American families are spending is $1,078, which is over $200 more than they spent last year.

Why and how are two good questions you may have. And part of the first answer could lie in “Super Sweet 16”-style spending. Jason Alderman, senior director of Global Financial Education at Visa, says prom spending “is spiraling out of control as teens continuously try to one-up each other.”

The actual ticket is often the cheapest part. By the time a student buys a dress or rents a tuxedo, a couple hundred bucks is already out the window. And when you throw in accessories, flowers, dinner, professional pictures and (take a deep breath) a limo, you may need to plan on working overtime.

The survey shows that money spent varies by region. People in the Northeast are spending the most on average – about $2,000 per family – while those in the Midwest are spending the least at $700.

But the statistic that Visa describes as “troubling” is how prom spending differs by family income. In general, the lower the income bracket, the more Americans are likely to spend on prom. For parents who make more than $75,000 a year, for example, prom spending averages about $850. For those making between $20,000 and $29,999, average prom spending leaps to $2,635 – the most of any income bracket.

What’s not surprising is that parents are covering most of the cost, according to the survey: They’re paying for 61 percent of the date, while their teenagers are putting up about 39 percent.

There are a number of ways to keep costs well below that $1,000 mark, though. Andrea Woroch, a consumer savings expert, suggests a good starting point for young ladies could be renting the dress. (And honestly, when and where else are they ever gonna wear it?) Other suggestions include splitting the cost of the limo with other students, though some can simply drive themselves, and combing the web for do-it-yourself hairstyling tips.

Visa adds a suggestion that coincides with Financial Literacy Month: Set a budget with teenagers and encourage them to stick to it. An effective way to do this is to mandate that anything over budget be paid for by the prom-goers.

It’s true that the cost of living has gone up since you stepped out for the dance, but so has the cost of keeping up with the Joneses and reality TV stars. The answer to whether it’s worth it lies partially with your teenager and partially with your pocketbook.

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Filed under: Economy • Extracurricular • High school
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Alexis

    "In general, the lower the income bracket, the more Americans are likely to spend on prom. For parents who make more than $75,000 a year, for example, prom spending averages about $850. For those making between $20,000 and $29,999, average prom spending leaps to $2,635 – the most of any income bracket."

    We are teaching kids that even though there is not enough money to spend it's ok to blow money on frivolous things. Im not saying don't go to prom, but teach your children the value of a dollar and that spending money you don't have will only hurt in the long run. We are teaching kids its ok to have a great time, no matter the expense. Reward for no one in the end.

    May 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  2. Yesteryear

    Let's hear it for my geekiness! I went-out of peer pressure-alone(and I was NOT the only one), had a decent time(it's not really my thing, but I'll admit I didn't loathe it like I though I would), and saved a boatload of $. I borrowed my Dad's tux, and carpooled, so the only thing I had to do buy was the ticket and dinner afterwards, without parental help. Which was just hanging out at a fast food joint. Not exactly magic, but who cares, I had fun. I doubt anyone I knew remembered it as a magical night that they will remember for the rest of their lives. So it's not something I think is worth spending thousands on. Of course, that is just my opinion, people are free to do with their money what they will. Much better was the day I stepped on college campus....
    Granted, I belonged to a high school demographic not renowned for prom antics-and I'm a guy, so I don't need to worry about dresses-, so take it as you will.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  3. Gabbi

    Who are we to judge how people spend their money? What seems like a waste to one person may be truly valued by another. The bigger problem is the way we (all of us) judge people, and encourage them to spend out of insecurity. As a culture we have allowed money to be easy to get, with no repercussions for not paying it back. That's a problem that's bigger than what some kid's parents spend on prom.

    May 1, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • johnharry

      Gabby, they would be the first people who blame someone else for their money issues balking at 4 dollar a gallon gasoline, but willingly pay 6-8 dollars for bottled water. the same 99% that 53% of dont pay federal taxes.

      May 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  4. Trevor

    I plan on going to Prom next year and i am paying for myself and my date and i have figured it would cost me anywhere from 2,500 to 3,000 to prom, and this does not include the limo which is another grand on top of that.

    April 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  5. Kelly G

    I gradueated in 2005- my parents paid for my prom and I had a WONDERFUL time. we didnt do anything crazy, my mom took me and got me a beautiful dress, i believe it was around $200 – after shoes, hair, make up nails and jewlery, i think that they paid around $400 – My prom date rented a tux, we drove my moms car, and went to dinner and the bill was only $35 for food.
    We had a nice time and a great experience. I was thankful that my parents were able to proivde me with such a wonderful time. I think 2k can be a bit excessive, but if the parents are willing i dont see the problem. I have a daughter now, and many many years from now, if she wants to go to prom I dont see a problem with setting a budget and making sure she has a nice night.

    April 30, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  6. jenn

    I guess being a nerd and never going saved me a lot of money!

    April 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  7. Lea

    A big difference today is all this hair, makeup, manicure and other excessive crap. It's not the Oscars, it's a prom!

    April 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  8. PeopleBeCrazy

    I graduated high school in 2008. My parents only paid for the dress, hair, and make-up. My boyfriend was a senior at a different high school so we both decided that the person would cover the cost of their respective school's prom. I paid for our dinner, tickets, limo (split between my friends and I), and covered the beach house we went to for one night (again split between my friends and I).

    These kid have no idea how much I had to work to save the money for that. If my kid ever asked for that, I'd say fantastic, go find a job and save up for it. They have no respect for money and where it comes from these days.

    Oh society....this is not what Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin envisioned for this country.

    April 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  9. Daniel

    These kids aren't stupid, they are asking for the world just like all their other friends. The only difference between kids today and kids a few generations back is the parents seem to have lost the ability to say NO. When I was a child I asked for everything imaginable and all the latest gadgets and toys just like every other kid, but my mother was quick to tell me no, and go further to explain and teach the true value of the dollar. My mother often made me pay for non-essential items with my own allowance, which I had to really work to earn. If I didn't do my chores, I didn't earn, which meant I didn't have money for the "wants". I learned really early on that silly things aren't as important to you when you have to pay for it. Today's youth don't seem to have these same responsibilities and aren't used to being told no. They don't realize how much $1000 really is, so asking for that to attend an one night event doesn't calculate as absurd to them.

    April 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Lori Starr

      It would have NEVER even entered my mind to ask such a stupid question from my mom! Not in a million years!!!

      April 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Booo


      May 1, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • andra

      you are very right I have been out of HS for 12 years and i paid for every dress I wore and most things that went with it. We had chores growing up and if they didn't get done then you didn't get the extras. i am proud to say that I am doing the same with my three boys, and let me tell you they understand money. I have gotten a few comments of discust from adults when I make them pay for something at the store......I know deep down when my children leave my house they will be able to cook , clean, do laundry and pay for what they really need....that makes me pround as a parent and concerned for the rest of the kids out there

      May 1, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  10. Lori Starr

    You just live within your means. I borrowed a dress (free), made a dinner at my moms house, he drove his parents car (free), rented a tux and bought a wrist corsage. STILL had a great time!
    Like weddings, you can spend far less than the "average", if you're creative, and still have a wonderful time. You just have to be realistic and go from there. It's what you make it. Spending more money doesn't necessarily mean more fun.

    April 30, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  11. name withheld

    I worked at a flower shop for many years. Of course this was a busy time for us especially when Mother's Day fell on the same weekend as the prom. We had to stay up all night working. But I can understand some parents going all out and overboard when the mothers come in to pay for the boutonniere, see their daughter's wristlet and get all pushed out of shape because it isn't nice enough! I remember seeing the girls getting so embarrassed by their moms.

    April 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  12. JustMe

    W....T...H....? $2600+ to go to prom??? I didn't spend that much on my wedding. These people are stupid.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Hasher Iva

      $2600 was ~10% of the family income! How can anyone justify spending that much when they barely make ends meet? It sounds like just poor financial planning to me.

      April 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Omar Suriel

      I totally agee... it is stupid.. MTV keeps making kids more stupid everyday... and if you dont watch mtv ur a nerd (At least thats how kids feel).

      April 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  13. SarahD

    Ridiculous! I bought a $60 dress, probably spent $15 on dinner, and carpooled with a friend's mom. Thousands of dollars on a dance??? I'm appalled. No wonder this country is in trouble.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Lori Starr


      April 30, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  14. T

    When I was in high school senior year (1983), prom costs was like, maybe 160-220 max. I thought it was too much and blew it off and went to a drive-in movie that night.

    Nowadays, a grand for Prom ? That's ridiculous, I can think of a dozen other things that the money could be used for.
    If I had a thousand dollars, back then, I would have used it for college or maybe a down payment on a classic '60s automobile....

    April 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  15. Mrs. A

    Prom is not a day...its only a few hours! 1k is insane to spend on prom. kids these days do not know the value of a dollar. It's sad to know that some familes can't make end meet and othere families are spending thousands of dollars on prom.
    On thing I would encourge girls to do is to donate you old prom dresses this year, so that someone else can wear it, do some good people!

    April 30, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
  16. George100


    April 30, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
  17. amh

    My sister recently spent hundreds of dollars on my nieces senior prom. Of course she had to have an original dress, so they drove over three hours away not once but twice in search of the perfect dress. It was Oscar worthy and cost as much! She looked great, but so much money spent for one night. Of course this is the child that drives a new mustang....I can't even fathom. The good news is they can "afford" it, not using credit cards. However, I can't imagine justifying this expense in anyway.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  18. Terminatus

    Whatever happened to sewing your own dress while listening to OMD and gossiping to your best guy pal Ducky?

    April 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • dirkK

      Love this.

      April 30, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  19. Terminatus

    And parents wonder why little Luke and little Taylor wind up "occupying" their local government buildings in a tent city–they're use to the ridiculous handouts!

    April 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
  20. HarleySportster883

    To each his own, if a parent wants to fork over that amount of money for one night in a teenagers life thats their business, however, when the kid grows up with no sense of the value of a dollar, how to budget etc don't complain when they never leave home or worse return 10 yrs later with their spouse and 3 kids.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  21. Josh

    I need to open up a prom store in the midwest.

    If the parents aren't paying for it, then at least the kids are paying for it since their parents are covering other costs like their rent.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  22. JOe

    Parents are stupid these days.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  23. Josh

    I find it funny though. People here are trying to justify how much they paid. And worse, comparing it to wedding cost! But I guess that's normal. First you pay for your daughter to get pregnant during prom. Then the wedding. And next, we have a whole new generation of high school prom spenders.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  24. Jimbo

    -Lower income families spend more on prom, that is not a suprise. It's the same mentality when you see a $40,000 Audi parked in front of a house that could be mistaken for a dump.

    -The boy isn't going to care how much the dress costs or even care what it looks like, he is more interested in getting the thing off. The girl shouldn't care about her dress because she will most likely puke all over it after she is convinced by the boy that vodka shots are a good idea. So why waste the money?

    -Both the boy and the girl will be wishing they had all that money back a week later when they sober up and realize how worthless and uneventful the whole prom thing is and their car breaks down with no way to pay for it.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  25. g05

    My daughter has 2 proms to go to, her junior prom and her boyfriend's senior prom. She wanted 2 different dresses and I told her fine. The max I would spend is $100. Her choice of on one dress or two. (She did have a beautiful dress from last year but went to Senior prom with a different boyfriend and wouldn't wear it.) Plain & simple. The end result was that she got a really nice dress for junior prom. It was $75 and cost $35 for alterations, so I did pay for that. The other agreement was that I'd pay for her updo, up to $45 which includes the tip. She had to pay for her tickets and anything over that. (She has a small part-time job and lots of friends!)

    The end result is that she got to borrow a dress for her boyfriend's senior prom, borrowed shoes, did her own nails and looked stunning for her junior prom. The senior prom is in a couple of weeks. Up do is still 'up' in the air for that. This area doesn't do limos nor all night parties and I wouldn't permit it anyway.

    This is a prom – NOT a wedding!!! What a waste of money and my kids know a lot better than to waste money,

    April 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Terminatus

      WHAT A FOOLISH WASTE OF MONEY. Why would you even post this nonsense? Are to trying to unveil your stupidity in front of the world or something, or are you bragging that your twit spawn went to two proms? GAG!

      April 30, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Hasher Iva

      Good for you!

      April 30, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  26. t3chsupport

    A fool and his money are soon parted...

    If my kid wants to spend $2k on prom, then that is absolutely fine.

    It's going to take him awhile to save up that money from the job he'll be having to do to get it, so if that's how he wants to spend it, that's his prerogative. I might spring for a dinner or something, but he certainly won't be expecting it.

    I think if kids had only their own money to spend that they themselves had to earn, we certainly wouldn't be seeing this, but kids usually don't care about their parents money, and their parents are dumb enough to think this is actually going to matter. It won't.

    Prom is nothing more than a lavish, loosely supervised mating ritual.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  27. Todd

    Wealthier parents know enough not to waste their money on the prom, and can stand up to their kids and say no. Having perspective that the Prom isn't your golden achievement in life. Poorer parents doesn't want to make their children look poor in front of their peers.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • AL


      April 30, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
      • randoid1234

        $2000 to end up in the back seat of a car? Not worth it. You might as well hire an escort. You can take her to dinner, end up in the back seat, and still not have to dance.

        April 30, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • JOE


      April 30, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  28. Danielle

    $1,000 and up for prom!?!?!? Are these ppl crazy? My senior prom was 10yrs ago and I paid for everything MYSELF. My parents made it clear to me when I started h.s that things like prom/ homecoming are going to be my responsibility. I got a job to pay for what I wanted. There is a difference between need and want. My parents paid for the things I needed. They would of laughed at me if I even thought of asking for that kind of money especially for prom.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  29. Jen

    My mom would have never paid for my optional stuff. We were too poor for that nonsense. I paid for my school dances with my minimum wage, 15-hour a week job. Our prom included dinner ($100 a couple), and I did my own nails, makeup, and hair. I bought my dress and shoes at JC Penney's and Payless (Less than $150). Pictures were only like $20 at the dance, and we just drove there. So, all in all, me and my date only spent like $300 once you added in flowers. People are insane for spending $2000. My WEDDING cost like $3000.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • betterstartsaving

      Some people are comparing Prom to their wedding. Tottaly different, wedding you are hosting a giant party. You are just a guest at Prom. Better comp would be how much do you spend GOING to a close friends wedding.

      April 30, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
      • JustMe

        Even going to a wedding, nowhere near $1000. Or even $500. Not even $250.

        April 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • chris

      3000 for a wedding? Ours was 35K

      April 30, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
      • Don

        My wife and I got married for less then $100 including rings (Replaced for 5 year anv). If you have the money to spend, that you have earned, then go for it. But it is a complete waste. We are just as married and didn't go into debt doing it (like some people I know).

        April 30, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  30. Josh

    It's not shocking that lower income families spend more on prom. For lower income families, graduation from high school is an achievement. Now that, is troubling. You can sleep through class and graduate high school.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  31. APersona

    Just a quick note about limos: it is a GREAT way to save money if the cost is split with a group of friends, and also an extremely safe mode of transport for your teens. Teens tend to get in more fender-benders than adults. Add on to that the weariness of dancing the night away, and the dangers of an accident will increase. I'm glad I had a limo for both my proms (at my high school the Juniors and the Seniors attended prom) because I was tuckered out!

    April 30, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  32. Burbank

    And parents can learn to "just say NO" to outrageous expense. That's riduculous!

    April 30, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  33. John

    So glad I skipped prom my prom and went to an NBA Finals game instead. While I only paid for my ticket, I saved a lot of money and laughed at all my friends when they sent me a picture of all the guys watching the game in the lounge.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  34. dicyanin

    One thing missing here is the gender split! and it is VERY important....I think, guys end up spending more on prom for obvious reasons....a limo is not something a girl has to rent...tuxedo rentals are not cheap and compare to girls' dresses...and the date is sponsored by the guy generally....

    So to all those who commented that they spent less especially the 22$ one,...I believe you are correct but a guy cannot make a prom with 22$ ! and I don't think he could do it 8-10 years back

    April 30, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • APersona

      My date and I split the transportation cost...but you do have a very valid point about the tux rentals. Wish there was a more economical way to take care of that!

      April 30, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Booo

      That depends on the guy. I paid my half for dinner and the limo. I had a two jobs. My mom paid for the dress and nothing more. I definitely think I paid for more than my male date. Plus, I paid for most of my expenses myself and his mother paid for everything on his side.
      Are there girls who freeload? Yes. But not all of us.

      May 1, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  35. Matt

    I didn't have my parents budget as an option. I rented the tux myself, paid for the flowers, and paid for dinner and my car worked just fine no need to spend $600 on a limo to sit in the parking lot for four hours. I guess kids earning their own money isn't very common these days...

    April 30, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Burbank

      Kids don't earn their own money nowadays becuase illegal aliens stole thier jobs long ago. That situation is going to chanbge, I think!

      April 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
      • t3chsupport

        Actually, those jobs are still there for the taking. Your kid might end up working WITH illegals, but they'll still be getting paid. But now people assume that ONLY brown people pick vegetables or work drivethru, so they don't bring it up to their kids that if they want a job, they should go ask Farmer Joe if he needs another seasonal worker.

        They just don't want to do it if they don't have to, and they don't have to as long as someone keeps paying their way.

        April 30, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  36. RAZ17

    My prom was 14 years ago and I spent $1000, of my own money, acquired through hard work... 0% parent contribution. What did that $$ get me a convertible, an ocean front room on South Beach plus all the extras, booze, tux, tickets, pics, etc. What gets me is that parents are willing to shell out the money for a litany of luxury items without requiring more from the kids; and that the kids expect this to be a given. In my opinion parents should pay for at most if they want to be generous the ticket and tux/dress rental, if you want more then earn it.

    April 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Sterling

      Love your response.

      April 30, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • jeepers

      Love your response. Kids today are over indulged.

      April 30, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  37. LlamaLlamaDuck

    The numbers behind my senior prom? Neither of us spent more than $100 each for the event (and that's including food, transportation, tickets & clothing). 4-1/2 years later, I married a wedding that cost less than $3,200 total (including my mother's dress, which somehow cost more than mine). Give fiscal responsibility like that ten years to grow, and you know what you end up with? A happily married pair 32-year olds who's only debt is their home (which they already own close to 40% of), with five figures in savings, mid-five figures already in the retirement account, and a game plan that gets them to their retirement income goal before they're out of their fifties. The secret?

    Don't waste money on stupid crap like an over-rated high school dance. Carpe Crastinus, people. Seize tomorrow.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Judith

      Amen, sister!

      April 30, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • APersona

      Bravo! Thank you for reminding everyone that living within your means CAN be done.

      April 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  38. Judith

    So far, we have only spent $22. My daughter is wearing a beautiful dress that she also wore for another, out-of-school occasion two years ago. No one at school has seen it. She is wearing the silver heels she wore to her eighth grade dance (we figure they are almost new and will not be very visible beneath a long gown anyway). She has earrings and a necklace is really not necessary, given the cut of the dress. Her best friend's cousin is a hairdresser, and they are all congregating the day of the prom to get their hair done for free. A vintage-looking headband completes the look for $22. We have yet to buy the boyfriend's boutonniere, but my daughter is wearing a single rose as a wrist corsage. Eighteen kids are splitting the cost of a "party bus", and we estimate the cost will be around $80 each. Don't know how much the tickets will be yet. I'm hoping they stick to plan and go bowling as a group afterward. I figure the total cost will be around $150, or perhaps less. I don't understand all the fuss. But then, I remember the days when wedding receptions were typically in the church basement and included a piece of wedding cake, a handful of mixed nuts, and a few little pastel mints.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  39. Naner

    Hate to say it, but not throwing money down a hole on frivolous expenditures is part of the reason those with more income spend less. It's part of the financial training that helps them be successful and earn more money. Ostentatious overspending and one-upsmanship is a sign of bad taste so often seen in those with little income or financial sense.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • BosMonkey

      Well said.

      April 30, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  40. Johnny

    I'm giving my kids each a $2500 budget. I don't care what they spend it on (clothes, limo, food, wine, whatever), but they are not going over that amount...some of this stuff is just insane.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Naner

      Don't care how much of the $2500 limit your high schooler spends on wine?

      April 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • BosMonkey

      Nice that you have that much to blow on one night. Your kids must be spoiled already.

      April 30, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • t3chsupport

      That's still a ridiculous amount to give to kids who are just going to a dance.

      April 30, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  41. Celeste

    $1000+ for prom?? That's insane.

    My senior prom was 8 years ago, and it was nowhere near that much.

    I remember my parents bought me a $109 dress. Why do I remember? Because it is the first and only time my parents ever bought me an item of clothing that cost more than $100. I wore shoes that I had worn to several other dances and special events.

    We crammed 10 people in a limo, and I want to say it came out to like $40 a person.

    Dinner was under $20 per person, as we went to a local restaurant that wasn't obscenely expensive.

    Tickets were $30ish.

    Hair and nails were prob around $60 or 70.

    The date and I didn't do the flowers thing, so no money wasted there.

    So all together it was probably just under $250, which seemed like a lot at the time. My parents paid for the dress, and I had to cover the rest.

    I managed to wear the dress a couple times after the prom, I wore it to a formal even in college, and then reworked it (I know how to sew a little) and wore to it a couple weddings and other special events.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  42. LostinSLC

    Sorry this is one night, and this is not a wedding. At the most I will spend $150 and her date can pick up the many spoiled kids out there right now

    April 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  43. PromonaBUDGET

    This is utter ridiculousness! I read this article and this stood out to me:

    "But the statistic that Visa describes as “troubling” is how prom spending differs by family income. In general, the lower the income bracket, the more Americans are likely to spend on prom. For parents who make more than $75,000 a year, for example, prom spending averages about $850. For those making between $20,000 and $29,999, average prom spending leaps to $2,635 – the most of any income bracket."

    The children would not do it, it the parents did not allow it. We just wrapped up prom for my son, and his date's mom and I worked together to ensure we remained on a budget ($400 each/ which includes dinner & tickets). Suit (not tux, he WILL be able to wear it again) $200, Shoes $31 (w/ a Macy's coupon), haircut $15, Lincoln Town Car RENTAL $78 with unlimited mileage and my oldest brother grabbed his suit from out the closet and drove them wherever they wanted to go! They has a BALL and looked great! Come on parents, get it right! most of these children if they had to spend their own money would NEVER Spend so much on prom!

    April 30, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  44. PromMom OH

    Daughter's prom is this weekend – just added up her side and it's just over $300. Date's share is $250 (tux was $140). Dress was only $35 but add alterations of $59, still a DEAL ! But $550 for the whole kit and kaboodle ?? Not bad, could have been much worse if dress was purchased at a dept store and not a clearance store.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  45. Alan

    Our kids should be responsible for this expense also. With all the expenses parents have today and helping with college tuition our kids need to be mindful of these costs. If they contribute towards the overall cost of the prom it's more meaningful in the long run, a sense of accomplishment. I remember using money I earned doing lawn work to helpy defer some of the expense from my prom, and drove my date to the prom in my folks car. My date appreciated it even more, because I used my funds to help make it a great time for us.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  46. doh

    Stupid article. Find something better to write about...

    April 30, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Caz

      Go whack yourself with a schlong, you Jew.

      April 30, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  47. Ed

    We live in a very affluent CT town. Neither of my two recent graduate sons spent more than $300-$400 (although they both already owned tuxedos).

    April 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
  48. Tommy

    "For parents who make more than $75,000 a year, for example, prom spending averages about $850. For those making between $20,000 and $29,999, average prom spending leaps to $2,635 – the most of any income bracket."

    This Makes perfect sense. Basically it shows that successful people use their heads a little more often. Probably why they are successful.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • PromonaBUDGET

      I agree Tommy!

      April 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • DeeNYC

      I read an article where lower income people actually went out and borrowed money to get plastic surgery for themselves and their teenage daughters. Success isn't accidental.

      April 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • Sunny


      And for those who make more, a high school prom is only one small step toward their child's future as they're likely headed off to college in a few short months.

      For the ones making less, the prom may very well be the highlight of their lives...the ONLY time they'll ever get to play dress-up, wear a gown or tux, or ride in a limo. (It's too bad they couldn't spend half and put the balance toward community college tuiton or other career enhancements instead).

      April 30, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
      • Thomas


        Great response. People seem to forget that for many students, graduating highschool and its cermonies may be the only time such a thing happens in their lives.

        May 1, 2012 at 10:55 am |
    • Naner

      Definitely true. The rich person probably spent a third as much on prom and put the balance in a college savings account. A little living for the now to have fun, a LOT of planning for the future to make sure fun is always something you can afford to have.

      Financial confidence leads to much less one-upsmanship than people think. It really seems to be a mark of the poorer demographic to overspend like this.

      April 30, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
    • John

      Exactly Tommy.

      April 30, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • Kat

      FINANCIALLY successful maybe. To me, success is being happy with who you are and with what you have.

      April 30, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  49. Ellen

    I am currently going thru the prom agony. Daughter went to boyfriends school for prom. He then broke up with her a week before her prom. All reasonable boys at her school were taken. The boys from other schools just went to theirs. It is an expensive first date so she cannot find another date. Mind you I spent $500 for a up.. nails...... shoes....and even his tux for his prom His parents could not decide who should help pay for the prom since they were divorced. I felt bad and paid $150 for his tux. This weekend is her prom and I had gotten a limo for her school prom. Many guys will take her out but no one wants to commit to prom. It is heartbreaking that she was cheated on and can't go to hers.

    April 30, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • truefax

      As a father may I sugest that can resolve this issue easily with a pair of pliers and 5 min alone with the boy.
      Just saying. That said why don't you or another family member go with her, it doesn't have to be a boyfriend.

      April 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
      • t3chsupport

        Yeah, humiliating your daughter by acting like a lunatic and chasing away someone she possibly cares about is the best way to show that you care.

        April 30, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • denim

      At least she gets to go at all.

      April 30, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
    • Jennifer


      As someone who went w/out a date – tell her to find other dateless girlfriends and go as a group. No reason to miss prom because of a boy.

      Good luck.

      April 30, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
      • Cassie

        I went with a bunch of girl friends our senior year...the most fun i've ever had at a dance

        April 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • PromonaBUDGET

      Ellen, tell her to go to Prom anyway, enjoy her day...the boy is an idiot! And I would give both his parents and earful!

      April 30, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Letty

      Although I was stunned at first, many girls are going to the Prom by themselves...or with small groups. My daughter, not having a boyfriend at prom time decided to go with a group of friends. She borrowed a dress, I did her makeup and hair and the school rented a charter bus to take them to their prom. Cost for the evening was minimal, shoes, lipgloss and pocket money.
      Girls, you do not need a man to validate you...or take you to prom. Have fun!

      April 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
    • pete

      Good thing you put that on the internet, I am sure she loves everyone knowing her business.

      April 30, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • JustMe

      @Ellen – why can't she go by herself? Lots of girls here do, and guys too. It doesn't need to be a couples only thing. And as far as 'reasonable' guys, isn't there just a NICE guy she knows that she could go with as friends? Does reasonable mean 'all the good looking, popular ones'?

      April 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Kat

      I'm just curious as to what you mean by all 'reasonable' boys? How about getting a group of dateless classmates together and having a good time?

      April 30, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Noel Hollis

      Uh, can't go to hers?
      Why doesn't she take a single girlfriend....I'm sure there's one out there who would be glad for company. As the girl who was always alone I know.
      Tell her to buck up and go to prom, these things happen and she needs to learn that you can't just sit back and wallow and whine about it. She's in highschool for peets sake, it's not like they were married.

      May 1, 2012 at 8:39 am |
  50. Anomic Office Drone

    I grew up in an affluent area and my senior prom was in 2005. Seven couples did the whole thing together. We got a huge, ghastly Hummer H2 limo and split the cost 14 ways. Here is what I remember spending:

    Tuxedo rental: $100
    Dinner for two: $60
    My share of the limo: $110
    Corsage: $15

    Total: $285

    Obviously, the girls probably ended up paying more because of their dresses, hair and makeup, but I doubt anyone in my group spent anywhere near $1000. Keep in mind, this was only 7 years ago in a wealthy part of Southern California.

    If I asked for $1000 to spend on the prom, my parents would have laughed for a while then gotten really angry when they realized I was serious.

    April 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Anomic Office Drone

      Tickets were $50/couple, so add that to my total. Still, $335 is way less than $1000.

      April 30, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • Bob


      April 30, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  51. Prom Mom - Maryland

    Prom was last weekend for our daughter – tickets were $60 per person – not that they ate anything! Flowers – she ooted out said they just get messed up anyway. Shoes from payless $29.99 Dress from clearance rack last fall $34.99 and the nice part was that it was ot that typical back out, front out showing everything kind of dress – she will be able to wear it again if she is ever a size 1 again lol. Manicure and pedicure was $35 and hair was $40 – could not tell you how much his tux cost and he drove – they did not want the sedan service and we took a ton of pictures at home. They both work and they truly understand the value of a dollar and want to save thier money for college expenses. This is not a wedding (even though they too have gotten out of hand) they just wanted to be out with their classmates and have a great time and they did. I agree with Kathy above parents need to get a grip and their children need to have some responsibility

    April 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Kat

      "the nice part was that it was ot that typical back out, front out showing everything kind of dress – she will be able to wear it again". Huh?

      April 30, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  52. melissa

    When I was in high school 4 years ago for proms/homecoming I never spent more then $150. There was no need to spend $300 on a dress that I was going to where one time to just a school dance so I always found dresses that were on sale such as old bridesmaids dresses at davids bridal. I went to a salon to get my hair done and I usually paid for the pictures since my date would pay for the tickets. The tickets ranged from 25-30 dollars per person.

    April 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Prom Mom - Maryland

      Average cost of a dress at my daughter's school was $600 and up – sad part is they are all pagent dress types so they will never be worn again

      April 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
      • DeeNYC

        My teen also, which is why the dress store posts a picture of what dress was bought already at her school. When a parent drops this much on a dress she better be the only one wearing it. Then it's a few hundred more for make up and hair on prom night.

        April 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
      • Letty

        $600??? Hmmmm...let's see...a dress you'll never wear again or down payment on a small car? Or first semester college books, or rent on small college apartment, or electric for several months, or gas to commute to college...??? WOW!!!!! Parents...if the kids want to go to Prom in style...then let them pay for it! I bet these high priced dresses would become incredibly reasonable after they have to earn their own money to pay for it all. And if they are foolish enough to spend it on THE DRESS...its a lesson learned.

        April 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
      • Kat

        They are on average $600 because that's what people are willing to pay for them. If people didn't bend to those outrageous prices for a dress to wear for 4-5 hours, the dress shops wouldn't charge so much for them. That's ridiculous.

        April 30, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  53. Rosie24

    Which is exactly why I'm choosing not to go to prom! Not only could I not afford it but if i wanted to go i can gather up the money from my family whose willing to make it a special night for me. However i rather save money for college or a graduation open house. Then spend it all on bad food and a room full of people who pretend to like you for one night. 2012!!!!!!!!!!

    April 30, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  54. Linda

    I've seen this survey making the rounds on various news sites and found it unbelievable. So I tracked down the source. It's based on a survey of 700 readers of Teen Prom and Seventeen Prom, not exactly a cross-section of American teenagers. Here's the article from USA Today with a caption describing the survey:

    April 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • CT

      Linda – great job bringing the truth forward on this – I simply did not believe this article when I read it and now I know why.

      April 30, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  55. palintwit

    1969 brought us Woodstock. 2012 is bringing us Baggerstock, a gathering of faithful birthers and baggers, evangelicals, KKK and other assorted miscreant republican losers and trailer trash. Mike Huckabee will be playing his guitar. Sarah Palin will play her mouth organ. Stay tuned for location and ticket information !!!

    April 30, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Kat

      I hate to break this to you, but it's also bringing us assorted miscreant democratic losers and trailer trash, too.

      April 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  56. Kathy

    When we went to prom back in 1977 – my date drove, paid for the tickets ($25 each), my flowers and his tux and gas. We also doubled up with another couple. My dress was store bought at $50-$80 and garter and boutonniere were $7.00 each and his tux was $50. This was way back when and I wishful to say – both of us wish we could go back to that time – we are now back together after 30 years of separation. My daughter is now going to prom next weekend – northwest indiana and I will say that her grandma bought her dress (whew!) – I (mom will pay for the photos – her date is wearing a suit – no tux (not necessary) – they are driving themselves and flowers are coming from Jewel floral. He paid for the tickets and her flowers. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that prom should be costing as much as people are paying. Teens now adays need to learn to live within their means – if you can't afford to pay cash – you simply can't afford it. The excuse – well it's prom – does not wash. Otherwise – these teens will grow up to think that money grows on trees and will NEVER learn to live within their means and end up in debt. My daughter and her date are looking forward to this and will have many awesome memories.

    April 30, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • mike

      well said. as a single dad with twins it can get up there. No where in the parent handbook does it say I have to pay.

      April 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Alli


      April 30, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Kat

      Garter? For prom?

      April 30, 2012 at 5:50 pm |