I also don't want her to think all these things are necessities and if she has so much now how will she deal with this when she is on her own on entry level wages. Although she wants to be an engineer so she may be just fine as starting salaries appear to be higher in that field.
This is a toughie. It's really hard to know where to draw the line. I was in a lot of extracurriculars as a teen also, but they were cheaper and the school was poorer.
So. Volleyball. We had one uniform (it actually belonged to the school). I had to buy my own ball and knee pads.
Bus trips to games were included.
IF WE WON THE AWAY GAME, we would stop at Burger King on the way home. I would get a $1 order of fries.
The other things I was in were free - yearbook and national honor society.
My older kid is 10, and he's in a lot of activities.
- cost about $200 spring, $120 fall. Equipment (mostly 1 time cost). Uniform - pants and cleats, every couple of years when he grows out of them.
- Baseball "treats" - $12 once each season ($24 a year) when it's our turn to be the snack parent
- Snack shack during the games, $3 x 10 because the kids want a snack at the games anyway.
- instrument is free
- extra lessons are free
- white shirt, black pants, black shoes
- $120 x 3 times a year for chess class
Little guy so far just in swim lessons.
So, there is a need to separate needs from wants, but also "wants" from "wants". It seems like you have to determine which wants are closer to needs - like some of the uniform requirements for cheer. It's hard to tell without being there how many of them really are optional.
And then you have to determine which wants are really, well, wants.
There's nothing wrong with going out to dinner after a game, or getting ice cream. The thing that *I* struggle with is that it can feel never ending. So I limit it. How? 2 ways:
1. Decide to attend every 4th time, or once a month
2. Set a budget, and when the money is gone, it's gone
(You could do one or the other, or both).
When it comes to prom, I think you should just set a budget. "I will give you $300". She can choose to spend it on nails, haircut, dress, whatever.
Your concern about living when she starts out is a good one, even in engineering. I'm an engineer and was pretty independent right off. But I've worked with 24 year old engineers who talk about their younger brother "getting their upgrade" because they are still on daddy's phone plan and younger bro lost their phone. I think it's a really big risk. Have you discussed the cost of the cell phone, insurance, etc? Make a budget?
As an aside - I have a friend with one daughter. Very bright, great grades, involved in lots of things. Skipped a grade. Went off to Ivy League at 17. Not sure if parents were instilling frugality or if she was just like this, but she bought a dress from E-bay for $25 and altered it, cooked dinner for her date, and had a really cheap prom. She worked while in school, and paid for many of her own flights back. (She's now a mom and an OB/GYN.)