To help encourage a joint saving effort between teens and their parents, families may even want to consider opening a separate savings account to build prom savings. A savings account from an online bank may be ideal because these accounts are often easy to open and are likely to offer higher interest rates than the accounts offered by traditional banks, according to recent research.

But whatever approach families take to paying for prom, selective restraint and careful planning may prove essential in preventing the big night from becoming a financial mess.