Prom spending falls, but West still spends the most

Prom spending by teens and their families is expected to drop 14% this year, a Visa survey finds. Above, a teen picks out jewelry at a Los Angeles prom convention last month.
(Cheryl A. Guerrero/Los Angeles Times)

The theme for prom this year appears to be frugality.

A new survey conducted by Visa found that prom spending by teens and their families is expected to fall 14% this year to an average of $978.

The average family spent $1,139 on prom in 2013. The costs include attire, limousine rental, tickets and dinner, according to the survey. 

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


Visa, which conducted more than 4,000 telephone surveys nationally, found regional variations in how much teens and their families are spending.

Families in Western states will spend an average of $1,125, the highest average in the country. Families in the Midwest will spend the lowest amount, an average of $835, for prom. Folks in the South will spend an average of $926 and those in the Northeast said they’d spend an average of $1,104. 

But who is shelling out the most cash -- parents or their teens?

Visa said parents are footing about 56% of the prom bill; teens cover the remaining 44%.  


“This is an improvement from last year, but with parents still subsidizing this much of the total prom spending, there is still small incentive for teens to cut costs,” Visa said.

Along with the survey results, Visa announced the launch of a mobile app that is supposed to help teens budget for prom.

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