Its prom season, which means parents across the country are opening up their wallets and in some cases, going into debt to cover the costs.
• Canadian parents plan to spend on average of $508 to pay for their teenager’s prom expenses
• Households with teenage daughters have higher spending, with $424 on average shelled out on the girls, compared with $278 on the boys.
• Moms are more willing to spend on prom than dads
• Parents are increasingly shifting the cost of prom to their kids, with kids expected to chip in on average about a quarter of the total costs.
“There is a huge temptation to spend on prom for parents. It’s a once in a lifetime event, and parents typically want their kids to really get the full experience. What’s more is that there is huge pressure, from other kids and their parents to create a prom night that invariably comes with a hefty price tag,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“The real issue is when parents turn to debt to cover costs. As with everything else in your budget, spending beyond your means creates a debt load. If money is already tight, this extra debt can make you financially vulnerable,” says Schwartz.
The answer is to set a budget and to be creative in finding ways to save money on prom. There are lots of different expense categories, so lots of opportunity to save. Below are some ways to save money on prom:
A team effort
Don’t let peer pressure and parental guilt be the framework for your budget. Sit down with your teen and determine together how much that you can spend comfortably for prom items. That may mean that you may have to remove some items from the prom wish list. Encourage your teen to participate not only in the budget setting, but in finding ways to contribute to paying for prom items with part-time work and savings.
This can be a valuable, relevant lesson in money management for them. It’s about getting more mileage for your money, as you look to save money on prom.
DIY hair and makeup
Salon prices for hair and makeup are substantial. You can shave a significant amount right off of your expenses by doing your own hair and makeup yourself. Have your teen make it a group effort with her friends. There are loads of online tutorials for hair and makeup, so they can expect some glamourous results.
Another major expense is the clothing for the evening. The range of prices for prom dresses can run into the $1000 range, which is pretty steep. Suits are not cheap either. First stop, check out consignment shops or consider renting your outfit.
If you are intent on buying something, hit clearance racks first. Don’t be put off by sizes or damage, or even style. It can be cheaper to buy a clearance dress and have it altered/repaired.
Accessories are a sneaky way that costs can get out of control, and in many cases cost as much or more than the outfit itself.
This is an area in which you should try to use what you have or borrow from friends and family.
Cut back on your ride
Yes, traveling around town in a limo means that you arrive in style, but is it really worth the price tag? If you are going to cut something off the list, ditch the limo and go for more modest means of transportation.
When selecting your restaurant for your pre-prom meal, pick something moderate, rather than something high end. Do a local search for coupons or promotions to boost your savings.
Are you looking for ways to save on prom and other creative ways to cut expenses for your kids? Setting a budget helps. Call one of our trained credit counsellors at or get started with our online debt analysis.