Thursday, September 23, 2021

Proms: more about the money than the memories


A columnist in today’s Peoria Journal-Star writes that the cost for a typical prom has skyrocketed in the last three years.

There are regional differences, with Midwesterners spending less on proms than students on the East Coast, but the national average for proms this spring will be around $1,949, according to Golden Asp, “a prom-dress retailer whose high-end offerings include a $918 creation that looks like a low-cut feather duster,” writes Phil Luciano.

In 2011, just three years ago, the national average was $807. That’s a 141 percent increase in the cost of prom for a typical American student couple in a span of only three years.

One interesting data point in the article is that families whose household income is below $50,000 tend to spend more than the average, while families with a household income above the $50,000 mark spend less than the average.

“Why?” he asks. “I’d peg our usual fiscal foolishness. You know why some people always seem to have more money? They don’t spend as much. You know why some people often seem to have less money? They waste a lot.”

And even worse, he ponders, according to a survey by Visa, “single parents blew $400 more than the national average on prom.” They even spent more than a typical below-$50,000 household, although the survey didn’t consider household income for single parents.

He proposes, after hearing about all the police chiefs talk about not driving under the influence after prom and not doing all the other things kids aren’t supposed to do, that maybe parents could offer their kids cash not to go to prom.

Maybe they could take that cash, put it in their pockets, and put it to a better use. They could spend it on college expenses next year or on something worthwhile in their communities.

But alas, Mr Luciano’s is a move played on an empty dance floor. Proms can’t be stopped. Expenses can’t be controlled. And the poor will continue to get poorer by acting rich, even if it is only for a night—a night that will bring, most likely, no long-term memories and no good news except for the scattered reports of students who didn’t die in a horrific accident they had after drinking on prom night.

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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