BLOOMINGTON, Minn - A teenage rite of passage has become one spendy shindig. A new survey by Visa says the cost of prom is is up for the second straight year, outpacing inflation.
Visa says American families who have teenagers will spend an average of $1,139 each on the prom, a five percent boost, or roughly $60 dollar increase compared to the average amount spent in 2012 of $1,078.
Stephanie Boeckman, a high school senior from St. Cloud, visited the Glitz prom dress store inside the Mall of America in hopes to find an original dress. She found herself in one pretty predicament. Her favorite dress was also the most expensive she's tried. The $400 price tag pushed the budget her mom set for her senior prom.
"As long as I spend less than last year, I should be fine," said Boeckman. "She said if it was anything over that I would have to pay for it, so I'd rather not have to pay for it."
Glitz supervisor Piovanni Rittman says the store's dresses run as low as under $200, but often she sees girls who want fashions reflected from the red carpet, hoping for the Hollywood designer influence.
"We still have a dress in the store that is over $1,000, and it's gonna go," she said.
The average prom dress in Glitz runs between $300-$400, but Rittman also reminds teens you can look couture from your own closet.
"Wear shoes you already have in your closet, every girl has earrings, wear something you have already instead of new everything for this one prom time," said Rittman.
The women's clothing store Lola in the Mall of America has several prom dresses under $100, and sales associate Jordan Van Dyk tells girls to think unconventional.
"Glam it up with fun heels, necklace, bracelet, and earrings. You don't need to break the bank, search a little harder and not go the traditional route," said Van Dyk.
Visa recommends shopping for formal wear at consignment or vintage stores to save money, or consider having make-up or nails done at home, or by a friend.
The Visa survey, based on 3,000 telephone interviews, found that parents generally pay for around 59 percent of prom costs, while teens cover the remaining 41 percent.
The company's study also broke down prom spending by region and found Midwestern teens spend the least in the country, an average of $722. Out east, families spend the most with an average of $1,528. Western families will spend more modestly with an average of $1,079, and southern families shell out quite a bit, an average of $1,203.
Visa also says one troubling statistic is that parents surveyed who fell in the lowest income brackets (less than $50,000) plan to spend more than the national average, about $1,245. Parents who make over $50,000 a year plan to spend less than that, an average of $1,129.
Stephanie Boeckman and her mom say the numbers sound right on target for teens these days, and for now, put that perfect dress on hold to mull over the big decision.
"It all adds up; you are looking at the dress, the shoes, the makeup, hair, alterations," said Judy Boeckman. "It's a big expense but it's a big part of their life so you want that experience to be enjoyable for them."
Visa launched a free Plan'it Prom smart phone app to help people create a prom budget, which is available at the iTunes store or at www.practicalmoneyskills.com/prom.
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