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Graduation can turn out to be an expensive date

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A prom budget survey done by Visa this year shows that grad spending is on the rise. In 2011, the American national average was $807 spent on the big day. In 2012, that number climbed to $1,079. This year, the cost is an estimated $1,139.


How does the bill get so high? Visa thinks it’s because grads and their parents do not keep track of the minor things they spend money on. To help parents and graduates, Visa created a budget app called "Plan it Prom" which allows users to make realistic budgets to keep budgets accountable.


Brooke Burnett is a grad from Collège Sturgeon Heights Collegiate and, after running the numbers for her grad through the Visa app, she estimates it cost somewhere between $450 and $500.


"The cost of my dress was $200, the tickets to grad were $60, to get my hair done was $50 and my manicure cost me about $40. My grandma and mom helped pay for things like my shoes, dress, and jewelry," she explains.


Burnett did her own makeup, and got a ride to the grad from friends to save some cash.


According to the Visa survey, parents "who fell in the lower-income brackets (less than $50,000 a year) plan to spend more than the national average at $1,245."


Also surprising was that "single parents planned to spend $1,563, almost double the amount that married parents plan to spend at $770."


Girls have pressure to spend more than boys on their grads. Grad dresses run anywhere from $100 and $800. My brother, Tyler McGuckin, graduated from Linden Christian School this year and the only costs he encountered were for his grad ticket ($60), limo contribution ($30), and his suit ($200).


Now who foots these grad bills? According to Visa, parents pay 59%, while their graduating teens pay the remaining 41%.


Since grad can be a financial burden, the organization Gowns for Grads Winnipeg has been created to offset some of the costs.


Gowns for Grads accepts grad dress donations and gives them to graduates who may not otherwise be able to afford a dress.


Last year, about 400 girls attended a dress selection event at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. Perth’s collects gently-used graduation gowns at all 20 of its Winnipeg locations, and provides cleaning for every gown donated.

Amber McGuckin is a community correspondent for Headingley.

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