Thursday, April 26, 2012

Epic stupid: Thousand-dollar proms

Yesterday, MSN Money reported that the average cost a family will spend on high school prom is $1,078. Not per prom, per teen. And no, that number is not a typo and I’m not missing a decimal point somewhere.

I’m somewhere between apoplectic and flabbergasted, and I haven’t even started on the alphabet from G to Z yet.

I try to remind myself to not judge others for their choices, but I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around the logic on this one. Hence my less than gracious headline. And my less than gracious rant.

I did a little digging yesterday. So what does $1,078 buy, more or less?
Put this on a credit card at 13.5% (what my credit union charges) with a minimum payment of $25 a month, and it will take you just shy of 5 years to pay it off.

I’m wondering how on earth you rack up such a bill. And who are the kids are who “expect” (per the article) mani-pedis, limos, professionally done makeup and hotel rooms? I can’t imagine having asked my hardworking parents to fork over half a year’s gas money to tart me out like a Barbie doll for one night.

I went to prom in high school. My friends and I met at each others’ houses and did each others’ hair and makeup. Our dates picked us up in their own family’s cars. My dresses started out as bridesmaids’ gowns. We had a blast.

When I was in high school, my parents made it pretty clear that they were responsible for food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education, and if I wanted extras like going to prom, I was to find a way to pay for it myself. The thought of asking my father for even $20 so we could go out with friends on the weekend was foreign to us. So much so, that my brother and I as adults got to laughing so hard we couldn’t breathe over the thought of it.

I don’t get it. I guess if you have plenty of money to spend and everyone gets joy out of it, go for it. But if this is a strain, and you are going to this level of spending for your kid’s prom, stop. Just stop. Please. In the long run, you’re not doing them any good.


  1. Amen, Sister. I read that and could barely believe it, myself. Ridiculous.

  2. After I wrote this, I talked to my sister over the weekend, who teaches junior high at a Catholic school. She told me that one parent rented a limo for their 6th grade daughter going to a school dance. Sixth grade. Seriously. Her take on it was she saw it a lot in divorced families where the parents were competing for the children's love and attention with money, essentially. I know that's not everyone's story, but it was a factor at her school.