OPINION: Budget alert - It's matric dance season

By John Manyike Time of article published Sep 26, 2018

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JOHANNESBURG - It's that time of year again when parents of matriculants are under pressure to fork out hundreds or even thousands of rand for the matric dance.

Gone are the days when this event was viewed as just a smart farewell party. Today’s red carpet affairs can cost up to R50000 if you get carried away with hiring a vintage or expensive car and line up top designers, hairstylists and make-up artists.

It may be tempting to give in to all the peer pressure and indulge your teen’s Kardashian fantasies but it’s the kind of temptation you need to resist. More than ever, parents need to demonstrate responsible financial behaviour. It’s possible to look and feel fabulous without breaking the bank. The best approach is to put a realistic budget in place, plan ahead and find affordable solutions.

Here are five practical money-saving tips for parents planning for their child's matric dance:

1. Set a clear budget and involve your son or daughter. Let your teen be part of the planning particularly in the beginning stage when the budget is set. Encourage them to earn additional income so they can contribute financially. A portion of their allowance can also be set aside for an agreed period to help meet matric dance costs. This makes the whole exercise educational and fun at the same time, as it gives you the opportunity to discuss with your child how important it is to plan ahead and live within your means.

2. Hire a dressmaker or tailor. It does not make financial sense to spend a fortune on a dress or suit that will probably be worn once. It’s often cheaper to have an outfit made by a local seamstress or tailor, and your child can choose the exact colour and fabric they want. Afterwards, they can make extra money by selling or hiring out the dress or suit. What's more, while saving on expenses, you'll also be supporting someone else.

3. Be smart about beauty services. A matric dance is not complete without beautiful hair, make-up and nails. To keep a rein on costs, track down beauty students from a beauty school near you. Final-year students are often looking for models to practise on, which means they may be happy to do all this for free or for a very small fee.

Another low-cost solution may be to purchase a small item from a department store make-up counter to qualify for a free makeover.

4. Arrive together. Arriving in style helps set the tone of the evening but hiring a limo can be very costly. Consider clubbing together with friends and ordering a super stylish UberBlack. This is a much more cost-effective alternative as you don't need to hire the car for the whole night and the fee can be split.

5. Cut back on photo and data costs. Why spend money on a professional photographer when most smartphones take high quality images and best of all, your child will have immediate access to post them online? Young people don't like to wait for things and love to capture and share memorable experiences in the moment.

It's important to plan and prepare well in advance for special occasions such as these. It helps keep stress under control, and your child gets to have a wonderful experience on the day without breaking your bank balance.

John Manyike is the head of financial education at Old Mutual.


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