Prom has become a major event. The planning starts in January (dress recon for the girls, prom proposals for the boys), and continues for several months until it culminates in The Night, replete with Pre-Prom and After Parties. In fact, you could say that prom has become a mini Oscar Night celebration.
According to Visa Canada’s Prom survey*, Canadians plan on spending an average of $804 on their teenagers’ proms (compared to American households with teens, who plan to spend an average of $1,086)*. And Canadian households with teenagers are planning to cover a whopping 81% of prom costs, (compared to their American counterparts who are planning to cover only 56 per cent), with their teens picking up the rest.
Obviously, the excesses of prom can easily take you down a financial rabbit hole.
When we were in full prom mode two years ago with our daughter, we realized that we were quickly losing control. The costs began to pile up. In a forehead sweating, hide the bills kinda way. Her dress, gorgeous as it was, was exorbitantly priced (And some girls spent double what we laid out.) But it didn’t’ stop there. She had to be accessorized. And primped. And transported. And entertained. The final price tag? Well, I’m embarrassed to say. So I won’t.
It’s been a slightly different experience with the son. Notwithstanding the lack of a dress, he’s a little more frugal and obviously doesn’t require multiple beauty treatments. But still, the dollars are flowing out the door.
How do I know how much it’s all costing (since as you know I don’t do math-type activities)? Well, we’ve been using Visa Canada’s free smartphone app Plan’it Prom. It’s pretty cool, according to my 18-year old son who’s been using it religiously.
Using Plan’It has allowed him to create a detailed prom budget and then by tracking everything he spends, to maintain my sanity (I mean my bank balance). Since I’m a firm believer in laying expectations out clearly, the app has made sure that we have had a really positive and conflict-free prom planning experience.
These are the features of Plan’It that Prom Boy likes the best:
Gender profile: When you fill out the profile and tell the app whether you’re male or female, the categories change appropriately. So he gets prompts, tips, and information that are relevant to him.
The budget calculator: Not only does the app give him a running total of his expenditures against the budgeted items he’s entered, it also keeps track of tips, taxes, discounts, and credit card spending.
The tips: he has found these really helpful. For example, the app reminded him that he has to order a corsage one week ahead.
Extras: the little touches Visa has included to make the experience fun, like the countdown to prom and the timeline reminders (remember that corsage…)
Photo gallery: while extremely helpful for girls who seem to view prom dress shopping as second only to their wedding gown, being able to add photos has helped him comparison shop for his suit and to colour match his accessories to his date’s dress.
Plan'it Prom Budget App from Visa Canada
Plan'It Prom budget screen: Male
Plan'It Prom budget screen: Female
Plan'It Prom budget screen: tickets
Plan'It Prom budget screen: After Party
If you’re still in the throes of prom planning, take heed of some of Visa’s money saving tips:
- The Favourite – Focus on investing in one desired item and spend frugally on other items.
- The Makeup and Hair: Suggest your teen partner with a talented friend to do their hair and makeup for free.
- The Outfit: Considering they will only wear their prom outfit once, suggest that your teen start looking early for a great deal on their formal wear.
- The Transportation: Split the cost of a limo with friends or research untraditional transportation like renting a bus.
To help with your prom costs (or other expensive teenagery things), ENTER below to WIN a $50 prepaid Visa.
The rest of the survey results are pretty interesting. Check out the infographic that wraps it all up.
Plan’it Prom is available in the iTunes store, the Google Play store and from Practical Money Skills.
*About the survey The survey results are based on a sample of 1,005 nationally representative live telephone interviews conducted across Canada from January 28 and February 2, 2014 in cooperation with GfK Roper OmniTel. The American survey results are based on 4,000 nationally representative live telephone interviews conducted nationally from January 24 – January 26, January 31 – February 2, February 7 – 9, and February 14 – 16, in cooperation with GfK Roper OmniTel.
Note: This post was sponsored by Visa Canada. I was compensated for sharing the Plan’It app and the prom survey results with you. Which is good. Because prom can be expensive.