The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

May 6, 2013

Keeping prom in perspective

— Don't tell her I said this, but I'm happy my daughter isn't overexcited about her senior prom.

     "I'm going, but only because I don't want to look back years from now and think I've missed out on something," Olivia said as she discussed her budget for this rite of passage for which many students and parents spend way too much money.

     My daughter isn't fawning over dresses. She's still looking and rejecting pricy frocks. She grumbled about the price of the prom -- $90 a ticket. The only luxury she's looking forward to is sharing a limo -- and the cost -- with a group of her best girlfriends.

     In fact, when our daughter told us her budget for a dress -- $100 "max," she said with emphasis -- her father was surprised.

     "That's all?" he asked.

     I immediately shot him a stinky eye.

     I thought her budgeted amount was just right for a dress she's not likely to wear again. One of her best friends vetoed a dress because it costs about $300 (love her frugal friends!).

     Yet many teenagers across the country will do what adults do all the time. They will spend more than they can afford. Students should shave what they could spend for the prom and use it to help pay for books when they go to college in the fall.

     For the second year, the spending on proms nationwide has increased, outpacing inflation -- reaching an average of $1,139 per family, according to a survey by Visa Inc.

     "Prom has devolved into a competition to crown the victor of high school society, but teens shouldn't be trying to keep up with the Kardashians," said Nat Sillin, Visa's head of U.S. financial education. 

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