5 Ways to Save Money on Your Teen’s Prom Night Expenses

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dressUnless your teen is the independent, responsible, and/or resourceful type, chances are good that you’re going to end up pitching in for prom night expenses, or even paying the tab in full. And this could end up costing you hundreds of dollars between tickets for the dance, a dress or tux, dinner out, a limo for the night, and perhaps a hotel room for the after party, if you happen to be an open-minded and lenient sort of parent. It’s almost as bad as those super sweet 16 parties you see on reality shows! Well, not quite that bad, but for the parent on a tight budget, paying for prom can be a stretch. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can save money and still deliver the once-in-a-lifetime experience your teen will remember for the rest of his or her life. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you trim expenses.

Split the limo. It doesn’t make sense for your teen to pay for a stretch limo for just him or her and a date. Instead, recommend splitting a large car with several other couples or even a big group if your teen and friends have decided to go as a group anyway. This way all of the parents can pitch in for a portion of the cost, saving each family a ton of dough.

Host a pre-game party at the house. Instead of sending the kids out for a fancy dinner, have them pre-game at your house, along with all their friends, with snacks, finger food, or anything that’s not going to spill on their fancy outfits. If you want to make it even more affordable, make it a potluck and invite the other parents as well. You can all snap pics of the kids and continue your own party once the teens leave for the prom. As for the after party, consider a slumber party in the basement or living room following the prom so there is some parental supervision and you can skip the cost of a hotel room (which teens aren’t really allowed to be in without a parent anyway).

Match your teen’s input. By the time teens are old enough to hit the senior prom, they should be prepared for some of the harsh realities of the world, which is to say, they should be making their own money, whether they hold a part-time job at the mall or babysit on the weekends for extra cash. At the very least they should be doing chores around the house for allowance. The result is that you can force your teen to pony up at least a portion of the dough required to cover prom expenses. If you offer to match, he/she may try a bit harder to save that allowance. You may just want to put a cap on spending so you don’t end up eating your words when you kid shows up waving beaucoup bucks and demanding matching funds.

Garment rentals. There’s really no reason to buy a tux when you can rent one at far less expense, but what about dresses? Your teenage daughter may have her heart set on a gorgeous Jessica McClintock gown or one of the many beautiful dresses from Night Moves by Allure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford the sticker price. One option to save here is by renting the dress, as well. You’ll have to look in your area for formal gown rental options, but it’s a great way to save on a garment that your teen is only likely to wear once. You can also use a site like RentTheRunway.com to have a designer dress shipped to your house for a special event at a fraction of the cost of new. All you have to do is book it, wear it, and send it back. You don’t even have to dry clean!

Alterations. If your teen has her heart set on buying a dress but you just don’t have the money for the one she wants, consider finding a similar dress at a lower price and having it altered to mimic the one she loves. Keep in mind that alterations can get pricy for certain add-ons like beading, just for example, but generally speaking, this route will end up costing you less in the long run.

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