Prom Dress+Frugal Mom=Compromise

I have always taught my kids the value of money.  I never ever hand them money.  I am sure this is frustrating to them at times, but I am appalled at the number of times my kids have been GIVEN a $5 bill by another kid at school, to go buy whatever they want.  My kids buy little and save the rest.  I laugh, I have taught them well, but these other kids have no “cents” about them when it comes to money.

I will share more with how we did this through the years, but for now let’s fast forward to 2010, a sophomore girl going to a Prom with her boyfriend. Not excited about the boyfriend part, but she picked an absolute winner, so I am dealing with it, and rather well I might add.

I am so frugal its awful.  Luckily my husband does balance us out.  My daughter came asking for her Prom dress.  I know this is special event, I know it’s her night to be a princess, BUT it comes with such a huge price tag. The one good thing is she will be going to 2 different formals this year, wearing the same dress.

In the middle of all this “dress shopping” she tells me she needs clothes, she’s out and she needs more.  Not sure what that means, I can’t even see her floor because of all the clothes.

I begin to think through this whole process, how am I going to handle this?  How am I going to be the frugal mom and also let my daughter be a beautiful princess?  This was a tough one for me.

Finally I come to her and say here’s the deal.  I am going to give you $100 (I can’t even believe I agreed to this much, but stick with me).  You can get a dress, shoes, purse, whatever you want, but that is your limit.  Once the $100 is gone, everything else is on your dime.  Even if you have to split a limo (please, that’s pathetic, but they all do it) it’s on your dime.

But wait there’s more…

I then tell her, if you choose to borrow a dress, reuse shoes from last year, look for coupons, whatever it is you choose, you can have what’s left of that $100 and go buy clothes.

Ahhh, now the ball is in her court.  She’s a frugal one too, and she too was surprised by the limit I gave her.  Well she began to do her homework.

Brilliant girl, this is what she came up with…

This coming weekend April 10th and 11th is the 6th Annual Prom Gown Giveaway. We are going to go stand in line together and get ourselves a gown, for FREE and apparently they are going to hand out shoes to go with it.  I hope we can get in since we have to go later, but we are going to try and get a FREE Prom dress.

I will report back with our findings and on how much she ends up getting for $100. But if you want to know what’s happening at the time,  follow me on twitter @money4this as I will report in while we are there.

If you are just checking in here’s the latest on what happened and here is a series I started because of it.

For more ways that moms are saving and other tips check out Works for Me WednesdayFrugal Friday and Tuesday’s Tips


  1. That’s a great idea and really teaches her how to be resourceful!

  2. I had never heard of this before. That is awesome!

  3. If you can’t get a dress I have a few formals from when I was young (why they are still in my closet after 8 years I’m not sure). Some still have tags. Toss an e-mail my way if you want. Good luck!

  4. I love that my readers are helping out my daughter. You guys rock!!!

  5. DD19 went to every single formal all four years of her high school career. That was 10 different dresses. We always shopped for Homecoming-Fall the previous Spring after Prom. For Winterfest-January we shopped after Homecoming the previous Fall. For prom we shopped on ebay. I never spent over $20 for a dress and she always looked spectacular. We shopped at Marshalls for shoes year round in the clearance aisles as she always needed high heels for band and choir performances as well as church functions. I was always looking for a bargain thinking about what was coming up in the future.

  6. That is brilliant. I have always shopped in advance for my kids, but the whole “formal” thing kind of snuck up on me. We will definitely be looking after formal this year. Thanks so much for the reminder to shop ahead. Why did I not think of that???

  7. What a FABULOUS idea!!! I will have to put that in my hat for in a few years! I love the idea of teaching kids to be responsible with money. I’m trying to do that with mine, but my oldest is such a spender and that can be hard at times! But, he’s only 10 and he’s learning.

    Thanks for linking up.


  1. […] am starting this series because last week I blogged about my daughter needing a Prom dress and new clothes.  I wing it all the time, this parenting thing, and dealing with money.  Now I […]

  2. […] only that, I am just a mom, trying to teach my kids how to be wise stewards of their money. Check back next week as I am going to start a short series on How to teach your kids the value of […]

  3. […] those of you that started following my Frugal Mom Prom Dress Dilemma , I just wanted to report back that my daughter did find a dress at Abby’s Closet in […]

  4. […] The dress my daughter got was so beautiful and perfect for her.  We had to do a few things, but here is how it all played out.  If you remember correctly she was given a $100 budget. […]