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Reining in all prom expenses

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By Jason Alderman

If you’ve got teenagers, you already know how expensive high school can be. Besides food, clothing and school supplies, a whole host of extracurricular activities are competing for a share of your wallet — even as you frantically try to save for college and your own retirement.
One of the biggest expenses you’ll encounter is prom. Gone are the days of borrowing dad’s suit and crepe paper streamers in the school gym: Today’s proms are often more like a Hollywood premiere with limousines, designer gowns and swanky after-parties.
I’m not kidding. According to a recent nationwide survey conducted by Visa Inc., the average U.S. family with a high school student attending the prom expects to spend $978 this year. Surprisingly, that’s down 14 percent from last year’s survey average of $1,139 per family.
A few other interesting statistics the survey uncovered:
• On average, parents plan to pay for about 56 percent of prom costs, with their kids picking up the remaining 44 percent.
• Parents in lower income brackets (less than $50,000 a year) plan to spend an average of $733 — a considerable share of the family budget. Thankfully, that’s down significantly from last year’s $1,245 estimate.
• Those earning over $50,000 will spend an average of $1,151.


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