Ball season: 12 ways to save money

By Marilynn McLachlan

You could borrow a dress from a friend or older sibling. Photo / Thinkstock
You could borrow a dress from a friend or older sibling. Photo / Thinkstock

Some parents' will be forking out almost $2000 for school balls as more students look for professional - and costly - make-up, hair, tans, nails, expensive dresses, shoes and accessories this year.

Here are 12 money-saving ideas to take the sting out of the ball season this year.

1. Set a budget and stick to it

Parents and teens should sit down and decide what the dollar limit is for the event. By keeping the amount in mind, it makes it easier to decide between coveted items, such as new shoes or expensive make-up.

2. Shop around

There can sometimes be hundreds of dollars difference in the cost of purchasing a ball gown. Make sure you leave enough time to visit stores and look around online.

For example, we found this dress from Golden Gown for $379 and this dress from Dress Me Pretty for $152.

Always get prices from at least three different places before booking hair, make-up or limousines.

3. Buy second hand

As much as they will be loved, ball gowns for the girls and suits for the boys are rarely used again. There are some good quality second hand stores to buy from, or head over to Trade Me to browse their extensive selection of both new and used ball gowns and suits. Some schools host their own ball gown sales, so Google local schools to find out when their sales are.

4. Make your own

A treasured grandmother or a talented student can make a ball gown either from a pattern, or designing your own. Alterations can always be made to an existing dress.

5. Borrow

A friend or older sibling may have a dress that is barely worn - remember that bridesmaids' dresses can also be used as ball gowns.

6. Think outside the box for jewellery and accessories

Adding accessories from rental companies, or buying them, eats into the overall budget. Check out grandma's jewellery or granddad's hats and bowties - there could be some real treasures that can be used.

7. DIY hair and make-up

There are a myriad of websites with instructions of how to make hair and make-up look stunning for the ball. YouTube has hundreds of thousands of ball hair tutorials, but search for "prom hair" to get better results. By practicing in the weeks before the ball with a friend or parent, you'll have it mastered by the time the ball rolls around.

8. DIY nails

After purchasing a favourite colour, practice applying the polish to get the hang of it. Paint your dominant hand first as it will be more stable when doing the other hand. You can search for DIY manicures online for step-by-step instructions.

9. Visit a beauty counter

Many beauty counters, such as MAC, some chemists and department stores will have a specialist do your make-up while only requiring you to purchase one or two items. Make-up will often be used again, so this can make a sound investment. It's best to book an appointment well in advance, as many other girls may have the same idea.

10. Tan in a bottle

Ditch the spray tan clinics and buy a bottle of fake tan instead. Begin the tanning process about a week in advance, thoroughly exfoliating the skin before applying a generous amount of moisturizer, followed by the tan colour, which is available in foam, spray or lotion form.

Be careful to spend time blending the fake tan to ensure a streak-free look. Apply every couple of days, washing hands or wearing gloves to make sure you don't get orange palms.

11. Travel in a pack

If your heart is set on a limo or another fancy vehicle, split the costs with other couples to make it cheaper and probably have more fun. Sharing a mini-van taxi will also be cheaper.

12. Decide on splitting the bill before the night

For those who take a partner, it's important to clarify who is paying for what - including tickets, transport and any entertainment.

Next story: Must-have accessory this ball season - lots of cash


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