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How Much Are Parents Spending on Their Children’s Proms? — Dollars and Sense

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ian_martin, Flickr

High school proms are getting mighty expensive — and we’re not just talking triple digits, either.

A survey done last year by Visa showed the average prom attendee spent $800 — but this year, that number is expected to climb to more than $1000.

Where does all that money go? Admission tickets, photos, limos, gowns and tuxedos, and hair and makeup for the ladies. Still, like weddings, the cost can vary dramatically by region. In the Northeast, families will spend an average of nearly $2,000 per child, while in the Midwest, it’ll be closer to $700.

And it’s not just the kids who want to spend the money — moms and dads sometimes use proms as a chance to show off. Consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow said, “Especially in really affluent households, the parents, in a way, use their kids to proclaim their stature to other parents. They use their kids to communicate to the community who they are.”

Oddly enough, though, it’s not the wealthier parents dropping the most cash. The Visa survey showed families in the $20,000-$29,999 income bracket plan to spend $2,600 on their child’s prom, a whopping 10 percent or more of their annual pre-tax income. On the other hand, families in higher-income households will spend between $700 and $1,000.

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