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The problem is that for most university students, the formal homecoming celebration often has a big dollar sign in front of it that bars the proverbial gate

While most people associate homecoming with high school, I actually had a much better time at my university homecoming celebration.  Instead of everyone getting sloppy drunk and awkwardly trying to make out with the cheerleader/quarterback, there was just enough “social lubricant” to be hand, and a real variety of people to talk to.  Alumni and professors are often pretty cool in the right setting (ok, so many are decidedly not cool wherever you meet them, but I was pleasantly surprised in many cases).  It also doesn’t hurt your career and educational prospects to do a little networking over beers and scotch.  The problem is that for most university students, the formal homecoming celebration often has a big dollar sign in front of it that bars the proverbial gate.  Shopping for formal wear can be expense, and can certainly stretch a student’s budget, but there is help to be had!

Related: How to Organize A Clothes Swap

All too often, students rent tuxes and buy expensive homecoming dresses, ride to the homecoming in limousines and helicopters, and even spend extra money on after-homecoming activities. This can all be done with the power of the credit card, but we all know that that bill needs to get paid sooner or later. While the night may have been a blast, the lasting memories could be so much better if there were no bills to think about the next day.

Stick to Your Budget

Sometimes it’s easy to overspend as a college student. Most of your tuition might be covered by government loans, and credit cards are typically at your disposal (there are often stations on campus to sign up for credit cards on day one). Students get the feeling that with their degree, paying off their loans will be a breeze. Then, when the homecoming party comes up, what’s another few hundred bucks? It just seems like a drop in the hat compared to the loans. In reality though, a series of financial decisions like that could have a huge impact on your future.  Hence the debt student debt statistics we read about in the paper on a weekly basis.

Related: What To Do About Credit Card Debt

Instead of spending wildly on your homecoming and regretting it later, why not budget for it and find some impressive deals along the way? You most likely won’t have to sacrifice any fun, but your credit card can stay safely tucked away in your pocket instead of heating up through various swiping machines.

Get a Deal on Your Homecoming Clothing

Whether you’re a girl or a guy, you can get a deal on your apparel. For you guys, finding a deal on your tux will most likely be pretty easy. There are quite a large number of shops that rent out tuxes and if you go in with a group of friends instead of by yourself, you can get yourself quite a bargain (it’s basic economy of scale, the more of you there are, the more profit to be made if you offer your rentals as a package deal). Also, if you already own a suit, perhaps you could just find a vest and a tie and be looking studly for less than half the price of a tux rental (if the freshmen year wasn’t so good to you perhaps a quick visit to a small tailor might save you the need to buy new duds).

For you ladies, there are a number of possibilities for you to find a deal on your dresses.  The old brick and mortar stores offer an environment to try clothes on with your friends, but that service and retail space has to get paid for somehow.  This means that the best deals are usually found at online places such as DressFirst that offer daily savings on a wide variety of formal gowns and dresses.  If you already know your rough size, you can always find someone local to tailor a dress for you (instead of using the relatively expense in-store tailors that most retail outlets push).  Instead of just heading to a designer store and paying full price for something off the rack, it would be much wiser for you to peruse their site and find something for a fraction of the cost.

If you are completely broke and can’t possibly buy anything (other than the ticket to the homecoming), start asking relatives and friends if they have any formal dresses. Chances are that someone has a couple of dresses that they hardly ever wear and are absolutely stunning! You could borrow it free of charge and have an amazing time without going into debt over it. In my opinion, avoid debt is the best option, but at the same time I had a blast at my homecoming and wouldn’t change it for the world.

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