It’s spring, and Prom season is here. Is it possible to use the words “frugal” and “prom” in the same sentence? Well, according to my dear friend Jemelene, it is. She has a high school aged daughter, and while I was in town visiting last weekend, she gave me some great frugal prom tips. I’ve added a few of my own, and hopefully these ideas will make the prom special…and frugal…this year.

The Dress

As a former high school girl, I know that the prom is all about the dress. But formal dresses are so expensive. Fortunately, there are alternatives to paying full price.

Abby’s Closet – This is for all you local readers. Abby’s Closet provides free Prom gowns one weekend a year in Portland, Oregon. Unfortunately this year’s event has already passed, but if you have a high school aged daughter, you’re going to want to keep an eye on this site for next year.

If you don’t live near Portland, Oregon, check to see if anyone in your area offers a similar service. New charities are popping up all the time, and you never know what you might find.

Outlet and Discount Stores – TJ Maxx and Ross might have some great gowns for bargain prices. Also make sure you check the clearance section of your local department stores. And again, if you’re looking at going to the prom next year, make sure to scope out this year’s clearance dresses.

Second Hand Stores – Often times prom dresses are only worn once. Then many of them get consigned at second hand shops. These dresses are in like new condition, but you won’t be paying the price for brand new. If you start shopping early, you’re more likely to find something that you like in your size.


Jemelene got really creative with her daughter’s group of friends. Instead of going out to a fancy restaurant, they served all of the kids dinner in their house. What made it special was that one of the parents was a chef, and he cooked for the kids. Apparently the kids all though it was great. No lines, no expensive prices…just a relaxing time with good food.

Other cost cutting ideas:

Have an Early Dinner – By dining in the early hours, you might be able to score a lower price on your meal. Use the time between dinner and the prom to take a walk in the park.

Discounted Gift Certificates – Watch for special deals. Sometimes you can get a great gift certificate at a bargain price.

The Ride

Instead of renting a limousine, think about securing a classic car. Perhaps a friend of the family would offer to chauffeur. When I was in high school, my friends and I actually rented a classic car (complete with driver), and it was quite a bit less expensive than a limo.

Jemelene’s family hauled their daughter and her friends to the prom in the family minivan. She says the kids thought it was great!

After the Prom

Even a bigger consideration than frugality should be that your children are safe after the prom. Too many accidents and poor decisions are made on prom night once the dance is over.

Jemelene made sure her daughter’s friends were welcome back at their house to watch movies after the prom. The kids agreed to the idea and even invited Jemelene and her husband Russ to watch movies with them! It was an inexpensive activity, the kids enjoyed it, and the parents could relax, knowing the kids were home safely.

If your child and his/her friends aren’t into movies, brainstorm other fun activities they can do in the safety of your own home.

In the end, the prom is about teenagers having a good time and making great memories with their friends. As long as that is the focus, it won’t matter how much (or how little) money you spend. The memories will be priceless.

Do you have any money-saving prom ideas? I don’t have a teenager yet, so this is not my area of expertise! I’d love some ideas to file away for a later date, though!

Photo by divinemisscopa.