WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Thursday thoughts: Penny-pinching prom!

Posted April 26, 2012

Monica Laliberte did a very interesting segment on WRAL-FM with Bill & Lynda this morning about the high cost of prom expenses. If you have a teenager, you probably have experienced the sticker shock yourself. Please share your thoughts and ideas on how to make prom more affordable, yet still special and exciting.

Monica had some great ideas, like buying the prom dress at a consignment store and having a fabulous meal for a group of kids at the home of one of the students. The parents can work together to serve a delicious, frugal meal complete with candles and music!

Here are some other tips:

Even more frugal than buying a dress at a second hand store is borrowing a dress from a friend's older sister.

If the kids are going to go out to eat, make sure they have a discount of some sort (Groupon,, Living Social, Entertainment Book, etc).

Have the kids come back to your house for movies, pizza and snacks for the after-prom party. The safety concerns after the prom are tremendous and having them at home ensures they are not out taking unnecessary risks.

I have a few more years to go before my girls are in the world of prom and when I went to prom all those years ago, things were not as extreme as they tend to be now. What other ideas do you have for a frugal prom?


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  • LuvLivingInCary Apr 30, 2012

    don't forget $150 per hour for the limo.

  • sat123 Apr 30, 2012

    My junior year dress was $79 (I forget where it was from), and my senior year dress was $4. No, I'm not missing a number. It was a pretty dusty rose thrift store find that I altered myself. My group of friends took a picnic to the park.

  • babbleon Apr 30, 2012

    I bought my senior prom dress from a vintage store. $27, iirc, tea length brocade, with $12 ballet slippers stained to match. It's still in good shape, 25 years later, though I don't fit it anymore.

    A romantic possibility for dinner is a picnic - there's lots of lovely outdoor spaces for it in Raleigh, like the art museum, Pullen or the rose garden.

  • sgbasham Apr 29, 2012

    There's a great store in Hillsborough called Formalwear Outlet. Not only are most of their beautiful gowns $95 but they sell tuxedos (yes, to own) for less than it costs to rent. We spent less than 1 1/2 hours with my daughter trying on dresses before she found the one she loved.

  • carrboroyouth Apr 28, 2012

    A mom of two - I agree, the cost of tickets (I think it was more than $50 a couple at my school) are the most outrageous expense of all. You can wear the dress or tux again, but the money for the tickets I will never get back!

  • carrboroyouth Apr 28, 2012

    Buy your prom dress off-season. More selection and much cheaper. I got mine at David's bridal for about 70 bucks - it was full length too! My mother did my makeup and I got my hair styled at Aveda by cosmetic students so it was less expensive, and did it myself the previous prom.

    Forget the limo - what if your friends want to split after prom? Me and my date went somewhere private afterwards, but most people did go to parties. I know a group that went to Waffle House at 4 am - too funny!

    Also, I noticed that this article focuses only on dresses. No recommendation for tuxedos?? I'm not a dude but I would imagine they'd want some advice for suits and the like. My boyfriend rented his, I think.

    All in all, I can't possibly see how a couple could drop $1000 on prom. That is absurd.

  • Americanpatriot Apr 27, 2012

    Prom is a waste of money and time. I went to both of mine and spent alot of time by myself.
    The dresses are gone and I have lost touch with a significant portion of the people I went to school with.

    If you really want to "save money" then just say no to prom!!!!!!!

  • jdouglas13 Apr 27, 2012

    I think there are places now where you can rent a dress which has to be much cheaper than buying even on consignment, and I think the dresses might be more upscale than ones you would otherwise be able to buy. Not to give away my age or anything, but proms sure are a much bigger deal now than when I was in school!

  • Oxymoron02 Apr 27, 2012

    With 2 18 year old girls in the house, all I have to say is ....

    Thank GOD they both think prom is stupid.

  • twsw Apr 26, 2012

    Having them pay for at least part of it does work better. When it is their money, they are more thoughtful about whether they really want it or not. This year we've splurged a little more (and still going) since my daughter is going to two proms (one dress though!) but it is with the understanding that she is reimbursing part of it. She already paid half on her dress. Grandmother is helping with getting the nails done as part of her birthday which is right after the first prom! Having good friends with skills in the hair and make-up dept has helped in the past. This year she wanted hair extensions and with the average price for a full set of clip-in extensions at least 150.00, I went online and did some research on how to make your own with high quality human hair. It's simple to do according to several of the how-to links I found. Since I'm handy with a needle and thread and measuring tape, we're making our own for about half the price. We'll have enough hair to make a full set