Got a high school senior this year? Better start budgeting now

PORTLAND, Ore. - Your kids have finally made it to their senior year in high school, which is a wonderful achievement, but that last year is also the most expensive.

You have just 10 months until graduation - that's 10 months of sometimes unexpected bills, starting with the cost of getting ready for college.

"Especially with college applications now, some of them are up near $100. I think that's why it is very important to be intentional about the list of colleges that a student does decide to apply to," said Patty Montague with the National Association of College Admission.

Many students will apply to six to eight schools. Then you have to add in the cost of the SAT at $51, another $24.50 for each subject test and $89 for advanced placement exams.

And then there are the college visits. If you can't combine several into one trip, see if a campus representative will be visiting near you.

Senior traditions can cost a lot of money too. A survey this year from Visa found that the average cost of going to prom is $1,100, which includes a dress or tuxedo, a limousine, dinner, flowers and all the other bells and whistles.

Senior pictures and a school ring can add hundreds of dollars too, plus there is the yearbook, the senior trip, graduation announcements, cap and gown and a party for your graduate at the end of the year.

So what's a parent to do?

The key is to talk with your high school senior right now. Have them make choices about what they really want to do and what they can pass up.

Plan a budget and have your senior start saving up for big things they just can't live without. If they can learn money management now, it will save them a big headache down the road. Plus, it will make the year a lot less stressful for everyone.