Help Your Teens Earn Money for Prom

Last year the average family earmarked $1,100 to cover prom expenses. This year, get smart: Soften the blow on your wallet by having your teens contribute to the kitty. Read below for money-earning ideas that also teach valuable lessons.

Chores can add up. No question, you can give them a few bucks for routine chores like mowing the lawn or doing the dishes. Or sign them up for laundry duty. 

Think group effort. To help your teen and her besties earn big bucks, encourage them to “crowdsource” their prom fund by taking on larger endeavors with friends. If they like to cook, have them grab a few culinary-minded friends to host a dinner party/fund-raiser for the parents. The parents buy a ticket to the party (say $25–$50) and are treated to a night out with a home-cooked meal (and no cleanup!). If the event goes well, your teens can do it again with a breakfast or dessert theme.

Teach them to market their skills. Is your teen a stellar soccer player or a piano prodigy? Encourage them to approach your friends that have younger children and offer to give the kids after-school lessons for a small fee.

Go old-school. If your town allows it, help your teen and her friends organize a car wash or bake sale in a central location. At the end of the event, the teens can divvy up the earnings or put them toward a collective goal, such as the cost of their prom-night ride or the after-dance festivities. There’s no question—working for their ultimate prom will make the night even more memorable.  



Reboot Your Midwinter Wardrobe

No question, this is the time of year when deciding what to wear can feel like a Groundhog’s Day moment. A little closet rehab will do the trick.

Closet Conundrum: The rich, dark colors you loved last fall are making you feel washed out.

Style Solution: Add a bright accent like a scarf or chunky necklace close to your face. Even if that necklace seems summer-y, it’s fair game to slip one off-season piece into the mix (see tip, below).

Closet Conundrum: You want to buy new clothes. Your budget says…wait till spring!

Style Solution: Take a weekend afternoon and have a try-on party. Pull your winter pieces out and mix things up in front of your mirror. Once you start experimenting, you’ll see that you have more outfits than you thought.

Closet Conundrum: You have new spring clothes on hand, but it’s too cold to start wearing them.

Style Solution: Layer one spring piece with your warmer staples. You’ll look fresh, and you’ll still stay warm. Example: Pair a flirty floral dress or colorful new capri pants with a chunky oversize cardigan or a leather jacket and your favorite booties.

Closet Conundrum: You waste time each morning trying on several outfits.

Style Solution: First, organize your closet. Just looking at it should inspire browsing. Tidy up the piles of shoes, toss old wire hangers, and spray a little fabric refresher for a scent boost. Second, have a try-on party (see above) and take pictures of the looks you feel amazing in, so you can reference them later. Even better: Share photos with your best friends and see what you can swap!

5 Easy Tips for Saving Money at Home


Fill the washer to capacity each time.



Running two half-size loads wastes water and electricity. Check the manual (or the manufacturer’s Website) for your machine’s capacity, which might be listed in cubic feet, kilograms or pounds. Calculate your machine’s capacity. In general, 3.1- and 4.0-cubic-foot models will hold 12 to 16 pounds of laundry; 4.2- and 4.5-cubic-foot machines will hold as much as 20 pounds. To get a good visual sense of what that adds up to, pack a typical load of dirty clothes into a trash bag and weigh it on your bathroom scale, then adjust accordingly. Overall, remember, it’s important not to overstuff your machine because this can interfere with cleaning; you should be able to fit your hand (positioned as if you were to give the washer a handshake) comfortably between the top of the inside of your machine drum and your clothes. If you can’t, there are too many clothes in the machine.




Buy in bulk.



Partner up with friends and neighbors when shopping in warehouse stores, then split up the purchases, especially perishables, to reduce costs and carbon footprints. Or try all-in-one products, such as laundry products that combine detergent, stain removers, and brighteners. By buying an all-in-one product, you reduce excess packaging, which saves resources. Look for energy-saving labels on light bulbs, home appliances, electronics, and other products.



Wash clothes in cold water.



It’s an easy change to make that can save big money over time. (Water heating accounts for the largest portion of your utility bill.) Don’t sacrifice deep clean results: Use a detergent that is specially formulated to deep clean on the cold setting. With this one simple switch, you can save a bundle on your energy bill.



Get digitized.



Lower your utility bills by installing a programmable thermostat to manage heating and cooling systems. Set timers to adjust for periods when you’re home, at work, and asleep. 




Turn clutter into cash!



Clean out your closet and take seldom-worn clothing, jewelry, and shoes to a consignment shop, or throw a tag sale. Those ill-fitting or outmoded vintage pieces might be a treasure to someone else. Or organize a clothing swap with friends to update your wardrobes. Old books (especially art books) can sometimes fetch a few dollars at antique shops, or can make for a fun swap party.