Prepare your budget for the prom
By LAURA T. COFFEY
Published March 27, 2005
So you've got a prom date? It could be lots of fun, especially if you don't get into trouble with your parents for blowing too much money on the big night. Consider these tips for keeping costs down.
1. Plan for the future when picking a dress. The best bet for saving money on the dress is to borrow one from someone you know. If that won't work, a new formal dress likely will set you back $100 to $300. For that kind of money, choose a versatile, ready-to-wear, off-the-rack dress that can be worn again.
2. Do you already have the right shoes? As you're choosing the dress, stop and think about whether you have a pair of black or neutral-color shoes in your closet that could work on prom night. If so, that's one less expense.
3. Be mercenary when it comes to accessories. If cost-cutting is your aim, think hard about friends or relatives who could lend you jewelry, hair clips and a fancy purse. If that's not an option, hunt for jewels and other accessories at a low-cost costume jewelry store - and don't forget to look carefully through your jewelry box and your mom's.
4. Remember the cost of prom tickets. They can range from $50 to $150, so you and your date should talk early about how you plan to cover this expense.
5. To rent or not to rent a limo? Most have four-hour minimums and require tipping, so you and your friends should come up with a total cost estimate and then divide that amount by the maximum number of people you're allowed to squeeze into the limo. If that's too much money per person, investigate party buses or the possibility of borrowing a nice car from a parent or relative.
6. Don't wait until the last minute to order flowers. At least two to three weeks before the prom, you and your date should order a corsage ($10 to $75) and boutonniere ($7 to $30) for each other. The corsage should have two or three flowers, and the ribbon should match the dress. Be sure to find out whether she wants a pin-on or wrist model.
7. Shop around for a tuxedo. Call several tux rental shops over the phone to compare prices before deciding where to get fitted. Since you probably don't don a monkey suit all that often, be sure the shop gives you all the accessories you need: the tux itself, shirt, vest or cummerbund, handkerchief (if needed for the front pocket), shoes, tie and belt.
8. Do your own hair, makeup and nails. You could easily drop $150 or more if you get yourself professionally gussied. To avoid that expense, do your own hair, makeup and nails - or, better yet, get together with a friend and do each other's.
9. Eat out for less. Don't think you and your friends have to eat at the nicest restaurant in town before the big event. Consider all your options. In fact, if you and your date like to laugh a lot, it might be funnier, more memorable and less predictable for you to go to your regular neighborhood burger joint or other favorite spot.
10. Save on photos. Formal prom portraits can be nice to have, but they can cost $25 to $75. Do you really need them? Since many digital cameras are the size of spy cameras these days, you could easily slip one into your tiny purse or tuxedo pocket and get dozens of posed and action shots throughout the night.