Families are reining in prom spending

04/10/2014 11:36 AM

04/11/2014 3:54 PM

Prom season is here, and parents and teens continue to shell out a bundle. But there are signs that the spending is a bit more restrained this spring for the big night.

Visa reported in a survey this week that the average American household will spend $978 on the annual high school rite of passage for tickets, dinner, attire, flowers, limousine rental and other items. That’s down 14 percent from the $1,139 that families spent on average in 2013, Visa said.

The decrease follows three years of steady increases, the credit card company said.

“The prom bubble has finally burst,” Nat Sillin, Visa’s head of U.S. financial education, said in a statement. “People are realizing that prom is a dance and you don’t have to spend like a celebrity to have a great time.”

This year, Visa also surveyed Canada. Households there said they will spend about 25 percent less than their American counterparts — $723 in U.S. dollars.

Visa said that for the first time since it started polling on proms, parents who make less were spending less. According to Visa, parents who earn less than $50,000 a year said they plan to spend about $733 on prom expenses, while parents who make more than $50,000 plan to spend an average of $1,151.

Families in the Midwest planned to spend the least, about $835, Visa said. The biggest spenders were in the West, $1,125.

To help parents and teens with budgeting and saving, Visa has introduced a free smartphone app called Plan’itProm. It is available in the iTunes Store and the Google Play Store and at

www.practicalmoneyskills.com/prom.

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