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The Economics of Prom

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The Economics of Prom

Prom dresses are a major part of prom expenses.

Prom dresses are a major part of prom expenses.

Prom dresses are a major part of prom expenses.

Prom dresses are a major part of prom expenses.

Genesis Sandoval, Editor

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Prom is a magical experience for high schoolers around the globe. From dressing up in elegant dresses and tuxes, to spending a night with your friends or significant other, prom is a memorable night for many. But when the night is over and the magic essence no longer exists, a glaring problem emerges: How did I afford this?

In a 2015 survey, Visa estimated that American families spent up to $919 a student on prom. While this number has been going down after peaking at a whopping $1,139 in 2013, prom is still expensive. From outfits, corsages and boutonnieres, makeup products, tickets, etc., the price to attend prom adds up fast. Not everyone is spending almost $1,000, but we’re all at least spending a decent amount for one night. Many families find themselves saving money over the course of a few months to have the best prom experience, even if splurging isn’t an affordable luxury.

Barbara Jensen, author of Reading Classes: On Culture and Classism in America, has noted that working-class families are more willing to shell out the cash for a lavish night, unlike the middle class. “Working class people tend to be much more generous with their money when it comes to special occasions,” she says. She explains that the middle class is, “raised to save their pennies, to be frugal.” So despite earning more money, the middle class is typically not as willing to spend money on an event like prom. Saving up hundreds for something as small as a one-night event can seem a little dumb or silly, so why are we doing it?

Memories.

High schoolers are told prom is a night you won’t forget. No one wants to look back on prom as the night you were too broke to enjoy it. I bought two prom dresses after the first didn’t work out, totaling around $240 in just my dress. Do I regret it? Not really. You may be reading this thinking I’m dumb, but I just wanted to feel beautiful for a night, and if a well-fitted dress was going do that, I was going to pay for it. I want to look back on prom as a night I had fun and loved myself to no end. I’m not saying spend money you don’t have or go even if you hate the idea, but don’t feel bad for enjoying yourself. Prom isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay too. Here’s to a great prom!

About the Writer
Genesis Sandoval, Editor

Hi, my name is Genesis. This is my third year writing for The Pegasus. I’m a senior, and can’t wait to graduate. I listen to music often, and sleep...

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