Got a teenager attending prom this spring? This year, the average U.S. family will spend $1,139 on high school prom night. That's everything from dinner to dancing shoes. And it's up 5 percent from last year.
Not surprisingly, most of that expense comes out of Mom and Dad's wallet. According to a recent survey of 3,000 families, most parents plan to pay for 59 percent of prom costs, while their teens will cover the remaining 41 percent. "With parents subsidizing this much of the total prom spending, there is little incentive for teens to cut costs," said Visa Inc., which sponsored the annual survey as part of its financial literacy program, Practical Money Skills for Life.
To help keep spending under wraps, Visa just unveiled a new, free, smartphone app, "Plan'it Prom", available on iTunes or Google Play. It lets you create a prom budget that includes the dress, shoes, flowers, hair and makeup, even the pedicure. You put in what you want to spend, then keep track as you shop.
It's got a photo gallery, timeline, countdown calendar and money-saving tips to "help you cut costs for a night you'll never forget." The tips include:
--Get makeup done at a department store cosmetics counter, or ask a talented friend or family member.
--Shop for dresses at consignment stores or look online for stores that rent formal dresses and accessories for one-time use.
--Skip the professional portraits and take your own pre-prom photos.
--Look for "prom night" dinner deals at local restaurants.
--And for parents: "Set a limit of what you will contribute and stick to it. If teens want to spend more, encourage them to earn the money to pay for it or decide which items they can live without."