Prom Season is Breaking My Bank Account!
9 mins read

Prom Season is Breaking My Bank Account!

Our house has been crazy (well crazier than it normally is with six children running around) as my two oldest daughters have been busy preparing for their junior/senior proms.  For months they have laid awake at night talking about what they would wear and shared their visions of the “Cinderella” moment that would soon be here. 

I told the story of my senior prom and how it was so special because the new, cute boy, who had just moved to town and started at our school asked me to go to prom with him.  It was so cool because all of the girls in our senior class had such a crush on this boy and he asked me.  Of course the story started to go south when they asked me the guy’s name and I couldn’t remember.  This getting old is the pits!  I can’t believe I have forgotten his name!

Anyway, while I enjoyed listening to them talk about prom, I was defintely not prepared for was what the cost of getting ready for prom would be.  

My oldest daughter found the perfect dress online.  It was pretty and classy and appropriately covered everything – so I told her she could order it. It was the perfect situation for me because I hate shopping (my ex-husband still says I was a great wife because I never cared to go out and spend shopping)- so if she could get it without taking me into a store, I was thrilled. 

A few minutes later she comes downstairs and informs me that the dress is $378.00.  My exact words to her were, “If you already ordered it, you better be sure they have a return policy or you will be wearing that dress every day for the next five years!”

How can a prom dress cost so much?  And let me add that I didn’t have one prom dress to get but three – plus a formal dress for me for a gala I had to attend during their prom week.  I had envisioned that $378.00 is what I would spend on all four dresses!

I did a little research and found out that the average price a parent could expect to spend on getting a daughter ready for prom in 2013 is $1,139.00.  Where are these parents because I need to find them and see if they would be willing to be a “prom parent” for my daughters?  This prom is ONE night.  I am not spending $1,139.00 times for prom night!

I sat the girls down and told them I needed to know what they were expecting they would need for the prom and how much they thought it would cost.   As they went over their list, I shared my thoughts with them about each of their requests:

The Dress

Girls: “Mom, first we need a dress that no one else will be wearing.  We might need to go out of town to find it. Most of our friends our spending between $200 and $500 for a dress”

Mom: “We are not going out of town to find a dress.  How about we spend $200 on one dress and we all three share it and each wear it to our events since they are all on different night.  That comes out to be only $50 for a dress per event.”

The look of horror on their faces was classic.  You saw their minds churning as they thought about their mother being seen in a dress that was cool enough for them to wear to prom.  Then my 17-year-old pointed out why my plan wouldn’t work.   “You are not even close to our size; you can’t wear a dress that fits us!”   Little does she know that I own a secret weapon…..Spanx.

The Shoes

Girls: “We will need to find the perfect shoes to go with the dress and we don’t wear the same sizes so don’t even suggest we share shoes.” 

Mom: “Okay, I understand that.  But let’s look in the paper to see who is having sales.”

Another horrified moment.  “Mom we cannot wear shoes from Payless to the Prom.”

Mom: “Okay but be sensible in what you buy, something you can wear again.  Let’s not spend money on a pair of 5 inch heels that lead you to have either broken your arm from falling over trying to balance in them or just taking them off during the prom because you suddenly realize you can’t dance in them.” (Please note- my prediction was right.  One of the girls fell coming down the stairs in her dress and high heels to meet her prom date right as I snapped a photo.  Talk about a picture perfect moment!)

Professional Make-Up

Girls: “Most of our friends are having their make-up done  by a make-up artist.  It is only $50 and they do it heavier and darker so it will look special for prom.”

Mom: “Your little brother and sisters have recently done some amazing fingerpainting pictures.  How about we let them put on that special heavy makeup you think you need and it will be free!”


Girls: “Now for jewelry we can just wear the fake crystals and we need each need a necklace and earrings.  We might need a ring and bracelet as well.”

Mom: “Accessories are important.  So let me tell you about a great store down the street called ‘Country Dollar’ where everything is a dollar.  I will give you a $10 bill to find whatever jewelry you want.  Heck you will even have enough left over to get a tiara to wear to the prom if you want!”


Girls: “Mom you just don’t get it.  At least we have to get our hair done and we found a place that does it real cheap.  It is only $45 for an up-do and $65 to have it curled.”

Mom: “Okay, I will give you that one since the most creative hair ‘updo’ that I can do is twisting my own hair into a bun and sticking a pencil in it to stay in place.  But, I want you all to watch what they are doing so that when I go to the gala, you can do my hair.”

Finally, a moment of peace as we all agreed on something!


Girls: “We need acrylic nails for $40 and all the girls are doing it and a pedicure, which is $30, so that we can relax a little before the prom and get our toes painted in case we wear sandals”

Mom:  “Let me reiterate, your younger siblings are very good painters.  I think they would have fun painting your nails.  Just know that sometimes they still go out of the lines and you will need to express to them that you only want them to use one color.”

Spray Tan

Girls: “Mom, this is the most important thing.  We need a spray tan.  We are so pasty and pale because you had to make us Irish.  We are so pale that we will glow in the dark at the prom.  Please mom, everyone is getting a spray tan and it is only $45.”

Mom: “Um, sorry about making you “Irish” thing and you thinking you are pasty and pale.  You might want to take that up with your great-great grandparents who came from Ireland.   Plus, fair skin is in right now.  But if you feel so strongly about looking tan, I have a light stain in the garage that I used to stain a chair and I will be happy to roll it on you and stain you until you have a tan.”

We eventually found common ground on everything on their list and I can proudly say we were well under the national average of what parents can spend on getting their daughters ready for prom.

We did end up buying three dresses and three pairs of shoes (it was originally only two pairs of shoes but then the dog ate one of the shoes which required me to purchase a replacement pair) and some inexpensive jewelry that really looked great.  

The make-up and nails done were done by hand at home and the girls looked like beautiful porcelain dolls with the fair skin that they wanted to spray tan over.

Our first prom season was a success and I only have nine more to go through with the rest of my kids! By the time that last one comes around you I will be the “Prom-mom-pro”!

Did you survive this prom season? 

Share your survival stories, tips on how to make it easier and if you can remember the name of your high school prom date with the “Prom-mom-pro” at


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