FOSTER CITY, Calif. -- Spending on the annual high school ritual of the prom continues to outpace inflation and grew for the second straight year, hitting an average of $1,139 per family in 2013, according to a new survey by Visa Inc. That's up 5 percent from the 2012 survey.
Visa's prom survey also revealed some interesting regional and economic disparities. For the second year in a row, the Northeast led the nation in spending, with the Midwest spending the least.
Regionally, the survey found that Northeastern families will spend an average of $1,528; Southern families will spend an average of $1,203; Western families will spend an average of $1,079; and Midwestern families will spend an average of $722.
One troubling statistic is that parents surveyed who fell in the lower income brackets (less than $50,000 a year) plan to spend more than the national average, $1,245, while parents who make over $50,000 will spend an average of $1,129. Additionally, single parents plan to spend $1,563, almost double the amount that married parents plan to spend at $770.
The Visa survey also found that parents are planning to pay for 59% of prom costs, while their teens are covering the remaining 41%. With parents subsidizing this much of the total prom spending, there is little incentive for teens to cut costs.
To save on the cost of the prom, here are a few tips:
- Shop for formal wear at consignment stores or online. As with tuxedos, many outlets rent formal dresses and accessories for one-time use.
- Have make-up done at a department store's cosmetics department or find a talented friend to help out.
- Split the cost of a limo with other couples, or drive yourselves. Take pre-prom photos yourself and have the kids use cell phones or digital cameras for candid shots at various events.
- Work out a separate prom budget with your child well in advance to determine what you can afford. Set a limit of what you will contribute and stick to it. If teens want to spend more than that, encourage them to earn the money to pay for it or decide which items they can live without.
About the survey: The survey results are based on 3,000 live telephone interviews conducted nationally from February 15 – 17, February 22 – 24 and March 1 – 3 in cooperation with GfK Roper OmniTel.