How to Create a Prom Budget

When planning for prom, it’s easy to get caught up—the fabulous dress, pretty shoes, sparkling jewelry and chic handbag, not to mention the makeup, hair, mani/pedi . . . and the list goes on. But let’s face it—somebody’s got to pay for all this. Knowing ahead of time how much you’ll need—and, more importantly, how much you can really afford—will make prom much more pleasant for all involved. Some tips for setting a prom budget you (and your parents) can live with:

1. Be realistic. Yeah, this is no fun, but it’s the unavoidable first step. If you have a very strict budget—with a set-in-stone dollar amount to spend—write it down, and then break it down. How much can you realistically plan to spend on a dress and still have enough left over for the extras? And while getting all the fun stuff is uppermost in your mind, don’t forget things like the cost of the tickets—if you’re paying for your own—and a boutonniere for your date, pictures, and any before- or after-prom entertainment. And don’t just guess at the cost of stuff like hair and nails—call around and get prices so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.

2. Prioritize. Typically, the dress is going to take center stage, followed by extras—shoes, bag, jewelry, hair, nails, make-up, etc. If you only have so much to spend, think about where you can cut corners. Maybe you have your heart set on that silver pleated gown, but can live with having Mom do your hair, and get together with a girlfriend for a nail and makeup session at home.

3. Pay cash. As with all things, paying cash you already have as opposed to spending money you’ve yet to earn is preferrable. If you don’t have the cash in hand, you still have time: figure out creative ways to make some extra dough—maybe Mom and Dad have some extra chores, or check with friends and neighbors to see who has need for babysitting, petsitting, yardwork, etc. It’ll take extra effort on your part, but heading off to prom without having to worry about how you’ll pay if off afterwards is worth it.

4. Be creative. If you have your heart set on prom, but have little or no money to spend, don’t give up—check out this post for advice on getting it together without going into debt.

Ruby Rox Plus-Sized Strapless A-Line Ruched Dress, $89, Macy’s