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Patch Poll: How Much Will You Spend on Prom?

Midwestern families will spend an average of $696, a survey says. How does that compare with your experience?

The dress. The tux. The corsage. The prom.

That may have been sufficient to describe this high school ritual of passage in the past. But today, add the spray tan, the manicure and pedicure, the limo, the pre-prom party, the after-prom cruise on Lake Michigan. The cost.

Visa Inc. has released a national survey that shows when it comes to high school proms, Americans appear to be willing to spend ever increasing amounts. American families who have teenagers will spend an average of $1,078 each on the prom this year, a 33.6% boost over the $807 spent in 2011, according to the survey. 

Visa says Midwesterners are the most frugal. Regionally, the survey found:

  • Northeastern families will spend an average of $1,944,
  • Southern families will spend an average of $1,047,
  • Western families will spend an average of $744 and
  • Midwestern families will spend an average of $696.

The Visa survey also found that parents are planning to pay for 61% of prom costs while their teens are covering the remaining 39%.

One troubling statistic, the survey said, is that parents surveyed who fell in the lowest income brackets (less than $50,000) plan to spend more than the national average, $1,307.

“Prom season spending is spiraling out of control as teens continuously try to one-up each other," said Jason Alderman, senior director of global financial education, Visa Inc., in a prepared statement. "It's important to remember that the prom is a high school dance, not a wedding, and parents need to set limits in order to demonstrate financial responsibility."

How much do you plan to spend on your teen’s prom?

Last week’s asked, Why are you in the market for a new car?

The answers and tally were:

  • With gas at almost $5 a gallon, I want a more fuel-efficient vehicle. 28 percent
  • Car prices are not going to come down. There is no reason to wait. 4 percent
  • It is just time for retire my old car. 54 percent
  • Other reasons. 14 percent

Robert Poznanski said his 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee is humming along just fine, with 170,000 miles on the odometer. “When the wheels fall off, then I guess I'll have to get another!! Funny thing is, the price, of the new ones, are the same as what I paid for this one, in 2003! Go figure!!,” he wrote.

To read all the comments, click .

Robert Bykowski April 24, 2012 at 05:48 PM
I went to two proms ('99, '00), both were awful. But, to be fair, I hated high school and everything about it, and going to prom was probably the only "extra-curricular" activity I participated in during the four years.
Joseph R. Martan April 24, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Robert: Wait until your HS reunions. There IS a God - he may work a little slower than we like but he comes through. The orientals are correct - what goes around comes around. Look up the word "schadenfreude" - it applies to many who use the reunions as closure for that unpleasant four-year rite of passage.
Robert Bykowski April 24, 2012 at 11:43 PM
My 10 year reunion has already come and gone, and I didn't go. All of the friends I met in high school that mattered I still hang out with, so for me it would've been paying money to hang out with people i hang out with anyway!
Jim Court April 25, 2012 at 01:02 AM
I believe graduation ceremonies would be an appropriate way to celebrate and give significance to years spent, the friends made, and the past that is being left behind. Proms seem to be very contrived and artificial. I am sure the ladies love them but as a guy I thought they were pretty meaningless and somewhat pretentious. I realize there are other perspectives.
Bob Santini May 02, 2012 at 03:17 PM
before you go knocking prom, try volunteering to become a chaperone; and actually witness whether the kids like it. the york staff and ptsa volunteers go out of their way to make this night memorable and safe for the kids. for many of them, it is the final culmination of hs; the last party so to speak. this year's york prom featured a midnight cruise on the inner harbor w several different music choices for the kids. as a parent, the most important thing is to support whatever decision your child makes. in other words, don't put pressure on them such that they think not going means they are a failure. keep in mind that sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree. if you don't sense they are excited about it, offer to take them (and/or their friends) somewhere fun for a night or a weekend. just because it's expensive doesn't make it wrong.

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