Tara Crooks
Limitless Contributor

I can remember it like it was yesterday - shopping for my prom dress with my mama. I knew that if she liked what I chose it meant I could spend "just a little more" on my attire. I came out of the shop with a gorgeous floor length purple sequined gown, purple sequined shoes, and gorgeous sparkling jewels for my ears, neck, and wrist. For the record, mama's favorite color was purple - I'm no dummy.


Prom was an amazing night full of promise and wonder. I had an incredible date, a beautiful corsage, and had dinner with many friends. Next to my wedding day, it was the closest I've ever been to feeling like a princess.

Fast forward about twenty years. I have two girls. I know that in just a few short years this prom dream is about to become my financial nightmare. USA Today recently reported total 2012 spending averages $1078 up $271 from the $807 average in 2011.The cost of prom for the average American teenager in 2012 was 458% higher than it was for teens just one decade ago. At this rate, you can expect 2022's prom expenses to reach close to $5,000. Something tells me I better start saving immediately.


I know what you're thinking - if they want that glamorous of a prom let them pay for it themselves. Curious to see if this was the trend I read a little further into the statistics. In 2011 the average prom-goer paid for 42% of their own expenses. In 2012 that's down to 39% which leaves 61% for parents to cover. That means if you're a parent of a high school prom-goer you better be ready to fork out somewhere in the ballpark of 650.00. Ouch.


Well, this mama isn't going down that easy. I think I have a few tricks up my sleeve that can help us save. There are many things that go into this prom average above; hair, makeup, jewelry, corsage/boutonniere, handbag, dress, shoes, tuxedo, tickets, limousine, dinner, & after party.


Any parent looking to not shell out so much cash can encourage their child to save where they can - for instance having mom or girlfriends do their hair and nails, borrowing a handbag or shoes. We're military families and with all of the military balls that we attend surely there is a consignment store with dresses worn only once somewhere in our neighborhood. Encourage your child to consider going into groups for limo or dinner reservations and negotiate a group discount.


The point is just like with everything else you need a financial plan and to map out some expectations for the event. Don't be afraid to sit down with your teen and decide on a price tag that will allow their dreams to come to fruition without keeping you up at night - well, at least not up with bill paying nightmares.


Do you have any prom dreams or nightmares to share? How did you save?