April 24, 2009
Forget college – just paying for your kid's senior year in high school can break the bank if you haven't planned carefully. While it's always a challenge to deny your kids enjoyable experiences, today's tough economy is forcing many families to make difficult decisions regarding these once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
One of the costliest senior expenses is the prom. At the risk of dating myself, my prom set me back $150, mostly for a tuxedo rental. These days, according to a Your Prom magazine survey, the average couple spends at least $1,000 – many pay much more.
It all adds up. Consider:
When Visa Inc. surveyed prom goers recently, 27 percent recalled having paid for everything themselves, 26 percent had parents who picked up the whole tab, 14 percent split it 50-50 with their folks and 12 percent shared the cost with their date. Bottom line: Don't feel compelled to foot the whole cost. If your kids have skin in the game, they'll quickly determine what they can and can't live without.
Here are a few cost-saving ideas:
Besides the prom, you should anticipate many other senior-year expenses. Talk to recent graduates and their parents about their lessons learned; then, before the school year begins, sit down with your child and hammer out a budget. Consider expenses such as:
Use senior year as an opportunity to teach your kids about the importance of setting and sticking to a budget. Visa's free personal financial management site, Practical Money Skills for Life, features many easy-to-use budgeting tools and interactive calculators that can help (www.practicalmoneyskills.com/budgeting).
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