This weekend is Prom at Ukiah High School and being the ever present Economics teacher, I get to be the buzz kill.
Spending on the annual high school ritual of the prom continues to outpace inflation and grew for the second straight year, hitting an average of $1,139 per family in 2013.
Think this is too high? Incorporate the car, the dinner, the dress, the tux rental, the limo, the tips, the shoes, the nails, the hair, the make-up, the pre-game booze, the post-Prom party at a friends that will probably involve more expensive booze, and the final 3:30 in the morning meal at Denny’s. Actually that number might be a little low.
The last thing I tell my kids before they leave class on Friday before Prom is to be careful, and to consider the real cost of Prom. Those that understand (which is most) all-of-the-sudden stop, and some will actually utter a very audible “shit.” This economists in the room will realize that the actual cost of Prom would not be the $1,139. Nope. The actual cost is what you COULD be doing with $1,139. And better yet, those same students start spouting off that the opportunity cost (what they WOULD be doing with the $1,139) is incredible. Vacations, tuition money, rent for a month or two. Of course, those that didn’t spend an enormous amount of money don’t have the “buyer’s remorse” because they didn’t have a high cost. Go figure.
Yep, another message that we are sending to kids; that a fairly useless dance deserves weeks of attention and money because that’s really important. We continue to shower our children with totally confusing messages; enabling them to death, not holding them accountable for their actions, while still managing to blame everyone else for the insanely high youth unemployment rates, the problems of academic progress, and the proliferation of teenage angst that turns into violence. When are we going to figure it out.