Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ten Ways to Save Money on Prom Expenses

There’s no doubt about it, prom is not an inexpensive outing. No matter how hard you try to get around it, you may as well resign yourself to the fact that your checking account is going to be a bit lighter after the event.  With three children attending prom for the first time and less than three weeks notice, it was imperative that I uncover a few ways to save money on prom expenses.

1. Prom Tickets

If you’re going to go to prom, you must buy a ticket. It’s that simple. Purchasing your ticket early can allow you to save a few dollars with early bird pricing. We would have saved $40 had we planned ahead- that would have been nearly enough money to pay for the pre-prom dinner!

We also saved money buying a couples ticket over the cost of individual tickets- even though my children were attending together and not with a date. 

2. The Prom Dress

prom60 Most little girls (and big girls, too) love to look like a million bucks; but that doesn’t mean you need to shell out the big bucks on a dress you’re likely to wear once. You can save money by borrowing a dress, renting a dress,  shopping at store that sells discounted formal wear, shopping at a consignment shop, buying online through Craigslist or eBay, or browsing thrift stores for a great deal. 

This time around, we had the rare luxury of not spending any money on a dress because my daughter already had three dresses to choose from hanging  in her closet. After much debate, she finally selected one that we’d purchased at a thrift store for $5!      

3. The Tuxedo Dilemma

I don’t know about where you live, but in our neck of the woods, weprom58 discovered that  tuxes rent from $109 to $179, plus insurance, tax and a deposit! I thought that was a pretty hefty expense.      

Luckily, we stumbled upon a sale at JC Penney’s and realized that we could buy a tux for both the boys for not too much more than it would cost to rent one tux. Since our boys are likely to go to at least one other prom before finishing school, we decided  $226, which included almost $40 for alterations was a great deal.

If your prom is semi-formal, you could also consider wearing a nice suit which your son may already own.

Though we also purchased classic black vests to go under the boys’ tuxes, they really wanted to add a bit of color. Since their color selections may vary by event, we found it was more cost effective to rent the vest, tie and shirt which we found at the Men’s Warehouse for only $20 each (plus tax and insurance).   

4.   Cancel the Appointment with the Stylist

Who doesn’t love to be pampered? My daughter, that’s who! She loathes visiting a salon. Just as well, in this case it was much cheaper to pluck, tease, curl and play make-up artist at home! Of course I do have a cosmetology background but it’s not too difficult to find a style online with a YouTube video or accompanying step-by-step directions that will allow you to recreate the same look you’d get from a salon.

My daughter found a picture of an updo that she liked and for the cost of bobby pins, tiny clear rubber bands and some extra hold hair spray we were able to create a style that she loved.  You can spend a weekend before prom playing around with several different styles so you’ll be comfortable when the big day arrives.

5. Don’t go Crazy with the Accessories  

prom59 When it comes to accessorizing, use what you have on hand. My oldest son wanted  to wear a hat but didn’t like the styles he saw in the store; instead he decided to wear one he already owned.  I did buy some matching ribbon to swap out the band on his hat but he thought it was too sparkly and opted not to make the change.  

We did buy the boys each the silk hankies that they shoved in their pockets, which we bought on sale.

We shopped at Claire’s for my daughter’s accessories and found they had a pretty decent selection of gloves, hair clips, fake nails and jewelry at affordable prices. Though she probably could have worn one of my necklaces, I thought it would be fun to make her a custom piece. Not only was it very affordable (save those coupons for Hobby Lobby, Jo Ann Fabric’s and Michaels), it was also a great project for us to work on together.

6.   Free Footwear

My daughter swore that she was going to wear her Converse knee highs with her prom dress which sparked my son’s determination to wear his combat boots. I love to see them express themselves so I agreed. It turned out that we only had to buy one pair of shoes and fortunately, we found a set of tuxedo shoes and socks for 50% off. Not too bad.

7. Forget the Flowers

Okay, I’m not serious when I say forget the flowers- I love flowers and though I’d planned to make a simple boutonniere and a wrist corsage, I’m ashamed to say I forgot the flowers!   

8. Pre-Prom Meal

When it comes to selecting a restaurant for the pre-prom dinner, remember to keep in mind that though it’s nice to go somewhere that you wouldn’t normally go, you don’t want to go somewhere that you’re going to be uncomfortable or feel out of place.  Determine how much you want to spend, find something that fits your budget and then don’t forget to call ahead for advance reservations.

9. Transportation

Since our kids were heading to prom with friends, they rode  together in a 15 passenger van. Doesn’t sound very luxurious, but it fit a lot of kids and was more economical than a limo. I didn’t hear any complaints.

Of course you could drive them in the family car and that would be free. 

10. Pictures

Who doesn’t want professional pictures of their kids on their special night? Though we did purchase one package of photos, I’ve discovered over the years that it’s just as easy to take my own pictures and print them in various sizes at Walgreens or CVS. I’ll have a great picture of the three of them together for $20 and individual pictures of them for much less- in just the right size. 

prom 2011

There you have it, Ten Ways to Save Money on Prom Expenses! What are some of the ways you’ve found to save money while ensuring that your kids still look and feel like a million bucks?

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  1. Wow, they all look great. Ashley considered going to a homeschool formal last year - we found a place locally where people donate their old prom and bridesmaids gowns - then they open it to the public and you can go pick out your dress for free. We ended up going to FL and she never did get to wear the dress - but you can't beat the price!

  2. Oh, my ... this is AWESOME!! I would have never even considered BUYING a tux, instead of renting!

  3. I have thought about buying a tux myself. After 2 times it pays for itself

  4. Love the pic of the 3 of them!

  5. Awesome tips, and I love the kids' photos. I bet they had a great time!

  6. $90 for tickets. Luckily I've got a kid like yours that doesn't want to be like everyone else! Sonny boy has opted to do all black with accents of whatever color the g/f wears ... no tux thankfully! Thanks for the heads up on Mens' Warehouse - that may be the saving grace!

  7. Love this post. LOVE the shoes. They look great!

  8. Thanks! :) Chelsea's favorite part of her outfit was the fact that she was able to wear her shoes. Imagine that! :) lol

  9. Yeah, tickets are not a small chunk of change. We paid $110 for all three of our children, that was saving money by combining two as a 'couple'.

    We loved that we could rent the vests and ties in whatever color they wanted but by the time they added taxes and the insurance (which is not optional) we paid $65 for the two. we did buy them black vests on sale for about $20 with the tux and could have bought the white formal shirt for about the same price on sale, but they really wanted to add some color this time around. Savings really would have been going the other route but we didn't mind a bit of a splurge this time around.

  10. Oh Carletta, they did have a great time! :)

  11. Thanks Karen! Did you see the picture of them on FB flexing their muscles? That was my favorite! :)

  12. I'd definitely encourage you to buy a tux- if you don't anticipate your child growing much more. At this point I don't think my boys will get much taller but they will fill out a bit. Though we had to have the sleeves altered and one pair of pants hemmed we decided to wait on further alterations since they probably will fill out a bit more over the next few years. We also chose a classeic tux style so they'll be able to get quite a bit of wear out of it.

  13. We'll be going on a cruise later this year and they really wanted tuxes to wear for that so purchasing vs. renting was definitely the way to go for us. Of course it didn't hurt that we found a great deal on the tuxes either. :)

  14. Wow Heidi! Free really can't be argued with! Maybe she could wear it this year?

  15. This is a fabulous list! I love your daughter's choice of shoes. I have one that's out of high school and could have used these tips. I'll remember them for my son's proms.

  16. Oh, your kids look wonderful! Does it scare the heck out of you to see them growing up?

  17. Great list! I wish i had this when I was getting ready for prom. lol. I also love your blog design! very nice

  18. how fun. jenny's first prom is this year (with a date/boyfriend) and they're both money conscious. I think having the girls makeup one another beforehand is more fun than a salon. there's is semi-formal so jenny will have the biggest expense - the dress. start browsing this coming week. Wonder what she'll end up spending but she's got some balanced input so it could be fine.
    thanks for those quick look tips. 2 or 3 are applicable

  19. Great Tips tonya! I love thrift stores for finding great deals on Prom dresses. We got my sister's winter ball dress & matching shoes at Goodwill in perfect condition for only $27 (both dress and shoes!)

  20. Great idea by having the girls get together to do each others makeup. Too fun!

    Hope Jenny has as much fun as my kids did! :)

  21. Shannon...you can comment now! :) Don't you just LOVE a great deal when you find one?

  22. Wow, their school sells individual tickets and allows non-dress shoes?? At my school you were REQUIRED to have a date (and if your date didn't go to the school, there was a background check!) and wear dress shoes, and there was specifically a ban on boots. I think they were afraid you could smuggle liquor or a gun in your boot?

    Before my prom, my date and I ate lightly and cheaply at my house. It's a lot easier to enjoy dancing when you're not really full! After the prom, we came back to my house to bake brownies and watch a video. The PTO-sponsored after-prom party was expensive! We had a good time.

  23. Yep, individual tickets are available, our prom was semi-formal and tennis shoes were not allowed ( we're bad ). One of their friends wore cowboy boots- creativity and originality were encouraged. After prom they headed to a friends house to play Kinect. They had a great time.


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