Prom season 2018: How to save money and still go in style

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A group of teens pose for prom
Image Credit: Dreamstime
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If the rising pollen count and springtime temperatures hadn’t already alerted you, then surely the teenage angst has let you know: It’s prom season.

Around the country, millions of high schoolers are in the midst of participating in the annual ritual of pomp and circumstance, regal appearances and, of course, selfies galore. If you’re a parent of a teen, that means you’ll probably be forking over quite a bit of money for this special occasion. But who says you have to break the bank?

How to save money and still look good for Prom 2018

Prom dresses for less

Formal and semi-formal dresses can run you anywhere from $500 to $15,000, if you’re willing to spend. But here’s the situation: You want a prom dress that looks all kinds of expensive, but is actually pretty cheap. There are multiple online solutions. Check out Promgirl.com, which has dresses for $200 or less. Lulu’s Fashion Lounge has dresses for under $100.

An even more affordable option? Renting.

If you want to wear the dress for one night and return it, these sites have an assortment of styles to choose from: Renttherunway.com has the moniker “Rent the dress, own the night.” We like! Charlotte’s Closet is running a promotion that offers 20% off your first rental dress of $75 or more.

For used dresses, try Facebook Marketplace. You can also join several groups that have wares for sale, like Used Pageant/Prom Dresses and Homecoming/ Prom Dresses For Sale.

The cheapest new dresses we found were on Amazon, where Prime members could snatch certain garments for as low as $15.

Rent that tuxedo

For one reason or another, guys don’t generally keep tuxedos in their closet. Maybe it’s because a black suit jacket will often do the job just fine — and is a great money saver. But if you must have a tux, it’s usually best to rent than buy. As with prom dresses, online consignment shops may be your best bet. Also try online retailers like Amazon and eBay, where I found a tux for $39.99.

Ditch that limo for an Uber

Limousine drivers make a killing come prom time, because they know Mom or Dad will spend the extra coin to make sure their son or daughter rides in style to and from the event. If you have an Uber account, use the UberLUX option, which features stylish, high-end cars for special occasions.

While UberLUX costs more than a regular fare would cost, up to four people can ride, so you potentially can cut your transit costs in half or more if you choose to rideshare with another couple.

Find you shoes at home

There’s a good chance you already have your prom shoes in your closet. If you have a decent sole, black dress shoes can be immaculately restored with shoe polish in no time flat. For girls that prefer high heels, there’s likely a pair you hardly ever wear that could be perfect for prom. If not, could you ask your same-size-wearing BFF if you could wear her shoes on the special night?

Corsages & other accessories

Accessories are where you can really save money, because so much of it lends itself to a do-it-yourself project. If you’re crafty, you can try your hand at an origami corsage. There are also boutonnière ideas and more on Pinterest. To save on a bouquet, stop by a florist and ask if there is a cheaper variety of flower that look just as good as what you had in mind.

Photos for free

Of course, prom wouldn’t be prom without a professional photographer situated in the corner ready to charge you an arm and a leg for a photo package of predetermined sizes. Save all that money by having a pre-prom photoshoot at home. Invite a few of your friends over to make it fun. On location, pull out your smartphone and organize some specific shots you want to have forever. You may not have a Canon or Nikon, but you can come pretty close with an iPhone or Android, paired with any number of free photo-editing apps.

These are just some of the ways you can save money and still make sure your teenager has an awesome and memorable time at the prom. Not only is it something they’ll remember forever, but you’ll be teaching them how to save by example. And that, in itself, is an education.

RELATED: 9 tricks to slash spending on clothes

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Craig Johnson is a conscious money-saver who still reads paperback books and listens to vinyl. He likes to write about how technology is making things easier and more affordable — but also sometimes more dangerous — for the modern consumer.  You can reach Craig at craig@clark.com
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