Average Prom Tab Now Reaches Over $1000

If you have a child who is about to attend their first prom you’re probably worried about what they’ll do after the prom with their date and while you can’t necessarily control those actions you might want to consider some penny pitching if you’re helping pay for their prom date.

A recently study found that the average teen in 2012 will throw down $1,078, that’s a big increase over last years $807 price tag.

The head of Visa’s financial education programs calls it a staggering number while pointing out that “this is social-arms-race-spending” and “it’s extreme.”

So what’s the big reason for the massive spending? In a day and age of social media kids are constantly posting pictures of their dresses, keeping up with celebrity fashion and talking about tee-focused reality-TV. Social media in other words has created a “go big or go home mentality” in which teens are attempting to one-up each other in real time. Jessie has the $500 dress that looks just like Kim Kardashian’s? Fine Melissa will buy the $800 dress worn by Lindsay Lohan or spotted in Vogue magazine at a steal of just $1000.

In what might be the most disturbing sign of the times, parents are getting in on the action so they can show off their success to other parents. As one marketing psychologist tells USA Today parents, “use their kids to proclaim their stature to other parents. “

The fact that adults are marrying at an older age may also be helping along the cost of prom tabs, as people realize they may not get married until well into their late 20s or later they now consider prom to be the biggest step they will take into adulthood for years to come.

We can blame social media all we want but in the end the expense of prom comes down to parents giving in to their children’s demands, a basic parenting fail if I have ever seen one.

In the meantime it should be noted that that these types of numbers are often skewed, for example when we look at the cost of raising a child it often includes an average made up with some rich parents who will pay $100,000 for a private education. It’s like this prom study average was also skewed by several spoiled brats with $10,000 prom dates. In any case the cost of attending prom is going up and it is increasing quickly.