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Are High School Reunions Worth the Cost?

by J. Money on Thursday, October 25, 2012

yearbook pics

(Article today by Jason Price of One Money Design)

Each year many people make a financial investment to attend high school reunions. Local attendees pay the ticket prices while some people travel from out of town and pay gas or airfare plus the ticket prices. Tickets aren’t cheap either. We’ve paid up to $200 for my wife and me to attend our high school reunions. We have to travel as well. Luckily each destination is a road trip, but that still gets expensive with gas prices and all the work to pack and hit the road with two young kids.

Let’s also not forget the investment in clothes that a lot of people feel like they need to make. While I don’t think that’s absolutely necessary, I understand as most people want to make sure they dress nice when seeing old friends. Hey, I bought a snazzy pair of pants for my reunion (already had a cool shirt). But taken excessively, one might be tempted to put outfit money on a credit card with plans to pay it back later. And we all know spending ahead is dangerous because you can never count on the money being there.

Okay, so you get the picture and you’ve probably lived through some of the costs. Let me go ahead and take a moment to share my feelings on attending high school reunions. Overall, I like to go to them because I believe they are about the experience. It’s hard to put a price tag on seeing old friends and reconnecting with people. There is a lot of value in doing so. You can resurface fun memories from the past, renew friendships and enjoy a night out on the town. While many people will use such a time to take notes and keep score on physical appearances, jobs and income; reconnecting with people for memories and friendships is what it’s all about.

But, does the experience outweigh the cost? In short, I like to think of a high school reunion in the same light as any other experience you’re willing to pay for. Many families will invest in a vacation and take their kids to Disneyland or the ocean (that would be us). You have to weigh which experiences mean the most to you. I’ve already said that I like going to high school reunions, but is the experience worth the cost? For us, yes. We just returned from my wife’s reunion and had a great time. Of course, I was the little puppy walking around behind her because I didn’t know anyone, but I still had a good time.

Maybe the experience is worth it for you. If so, the road trip and the ticket prices don’t have to bust your budget or put you in credit card debt. In fact, the high school reunions are one of those events you can easily predict for years to come, right? You can plan for 10 or 20 years! It could even become another savings category for irregular expenses that requires a hefty contribution of a few bucks to save the money. This can make attending reunions quite affordable.

In fact, planning this far ahead could put you in a position to do something nice like buy a ticket for someone who can’t afford to go. That can make the experience even better! My father-in-law said that two gentlemen agreed to buy tickets for anyone who couldn’t afford to go their reunion. They didn’t want cost to keep someone away from reconnecting. What a nice gesture. I think it would be great to sponsor a ticket for someone else. In doing so, the event could become a giving opportunity aside from an opportunity to reconnect with people.

In summary, if you value the experience of a high school reunion, the cost shouldn’t keep you away. Here’s to your next 10, 20 or whatever it is reunion!

So, what do you think? Are high school reunions worth the cost?

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This is an article by Jason Price – husband, dad, soccer fan and blogger on the journey to true financial freedom. You can find Jason at JasonPrice.me.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I love high school and college reunions!! And without a doubt it’s totally worth it to me too – I’m all about using my money for experiences. You can’t hoard all of it, right? :)

(Photo credit: milesgehm)


{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pauline October 25, 2012 at 6:01 am

I was in town for my 10 years HS reunion but didn’t go. I have kept contact with the people that I liked in HS, and via facebook, many others have reconnected, or just added their classmates to brag about how big their house is and how cute their children are. I would rather go for a drink with 10 classmates that I do appreciate, and try to reconnect via the alumni association than attend the overpriced lunch at my school.

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2 Greg@ClubThrifty October 25, 2012 at 7:33 am

Man,, I’m such a cheap a$$ that it is hard for me to spend money to go to the movies, much less travel the country to go see some high school friends I haven’t seen in a decade. I would have trouble spending money to go and see my college friends – who I’m much closer with. For me, I don’t think I’ll ever go to my high school reunion again.

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3 Roger @ The Chicago Financial Planner October 25, 2012 at 8:24 am

I have gone to the last three reunions (starting with my 25th). I did not attend any prior to that. I live about 75 miles (or so) away from where I went to high school so its easy for me to drive back and forth without the need to stay over. There are a group of guys that stay in touch, we see each other at least twice a year with or without the reunions. I enjoy our reunions, especially connecting with some of the folks that I haven’t seen since high school. As you get older, the “social posturing” seems to die down which is nice. My wife also grew up in the Milwaukee area and her high school is even a bit closer to where we live in the northern suburbs of Chicago. She wants no part of going to hers and that’s fine. She also wants no part of attending mine which is also fine.

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4 Mysti October 25, 2012 at 8:30 am

My 20th was about a month ago. I didn’t go.

Tickets were $180 each (for a BBQ and evening dinner). So $360 for us as a couple (kids were free at the BBQ). We would have had to drive 8 hrs, plus hotel. We would need 2 rooms because the only person that could watch our kids is my Mother In Law, who lives another 2 hours further south.

It would have been over $1000 for this. There is no one from HS that I care that much about to spend that kind of coin.

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5 amen! June 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Amen sister! If I’m spending money for a family night out then I want it to be more enjoyable for the kids and my husband than a reunion! Even better I want to spend the money so my hubby and I can go away for the weekend away from the kids! :-)

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6 Jason Price October 25, 2012 at 8:44 am

Pauline, great point. Getting together with a few close friends can be a memorable experience. You don’t have to attend a reunion to do this.

Greg, I hear you. Wonder why we don’t have more college reunions?

Mysti, yep the ticket prices in many cases are outrageous. I think we need some frugal high school reunion planners out there. Maybe they’re trying to make it too much like prom or homecoming. It doesn’t have to be a formal expensive event! I’m with you on the 20 year…it makes it tough with kids, travel, etc. Heading back for the reunion definitely requires planning ahead if you want to attend.

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7 A Family of Geeks October 25, 2012 at 9:04 am

Thanks to the Internet, I’ve kept in touch with the friends from high school I actually care about. I have no interest in spending money in saying hi to a bunch of people I didn’t like that much to begin with.

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8 Money Beagle October 25, 2012 at 9:13 am

High school was sort of a miserable time for me. I came out with a few friends that I keep in touch with, but most of the people there I would have little interest in getting together with, so I’ve avoided them and look forward to not attending my 20th reunion next month.

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9 NedN October 25, 2012 at 9:44 am

Since the pretense of this post is about roi then why bring your spouse? It negatively impacted expenses and your wife had to attend to you since you (said) knew no one. Does the evalution equation work better if you don’t go? For the record, since it is about reaquainting, I did not attend my wife’s, she did not attend mine.

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10 Michelle October 25, 2012 at 9:49 am

My high school is only 10 minutes away for me, so the cost is very minimal. I didn’t go to my 5-year reunion though. The planning of it was horrible and no one was invited weirdly.

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11 theCase October 25, 2012 at 10:29 am

My personal experience is I went to the 10 year one and that was it.

I think high school reunions will become a thing of the past. The need to see old classmates has been replaced with Facebook.

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12 Jackie @ Simplification October 25, 2012 at 10:33 am

My 10 year was last month. I’ve always said I’d never miss my 10 year for anything, but in the end, I didn’t go. I would have had to fly across the country, get a hotel, and pay $60 for one night at some crappy bar (double this if my boyfriend attended with me). Most of the people I was closest to in high school wouldn’t be there. I can keep tabs on lot of people I knew in high school via Facebook, so I already know who has 8 million kids and whether those high school romances worked out. 20 years: I’ll be there.

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13 Jen2 October 25, 2012 at 10:34 am

Not really. I hated high school. I was miserable. I don’t really want to relive it and I certainly don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars to travel there or pay for tickets.

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14 Jason @ WSL October 25, 2012 at 11:12 am

I’m quickly approaching my 10-year reunion and I don’t think I’ll be attending. It would be nice to see some of my old friends, but I don’t communicate with any of them any longer and I’m just not sure I’d have much fun. A lot of them still have their little groups that they had in high school and I never really fit in (I was the poor guy in a majorly wealthy school).

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15 Jackie October 25, 2012 at 11:26 am

I recently planned my 10 year reunion and let me tell you, it was a major pain in the ass! But, in the end it all came together and everyone really had a great time (and I’m not just saying that because I planned it). I took feedback from the class above us and applied what they stressed–make it cheaper and make it local. So, my reunion only cost $30 and we had it in our hometown. The majority of us don’t live in the state anymore so almost everyone flew in so that was the major cost. I had it at a nice local lounge and we had passed appetizers and a cash bar. Not bad for $30 in Boca Raton, FL!

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16 Sean @ One Smart Dollar October 25, 2012 at 11:33 am

I haven;t gone to a high school reunion and I don’t plan on it. I still see the people I want to see from high school. I would much rather spend the money to go on a weekend vacation somewhere new.

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17 LB @ Finanical Black Sheep October 25, 2012 at 11:33 am

It isn’t worth it to me. I ended up living in a small area in No-wheres-ville for 1 1/2 years of high school. In that time, I met more people at my first real job, than I did at that school. I keep in touch with the people from my job and still meet up to see them. No way I would would spend anything to see my old cruddy high school.

As for worth, it’s all in your priorities and the actual money that will get spent for it. To attend my reunion (last time I checked) is $0, but for me to get there would be an absurd amount of money and not worth it at all.

*side note-I personally don’t think Disney Land is worth the money either, but it’s all in your priorities and where you want to spend your money i.e. personal finance.

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18 KK @ Student Debt Survivor October 25, 2012 at 11:42 am

I didn’t go to my 10 year reunion because I wasn’t in town and was too cheap to buy tickets to go. If I was a little closer, or happened to be in town that weekend I might have considered going. But I’m still close with the people I wanted to be close with, and don’t really have interest in seeing what people I’m not close to are doing (there’s always facebook for that right;-)). But to each his own, I certainly wouldn’t judge someone who spent money to go. I’m sure I spend on things that other people wouldn’t.

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19 Angella October 25, 2012 at 12:08 pm

My 10 year reunion was in 2010. It was $20 entry fee at some bar – no food/drinks included. A complete waste of my $20. Same cliques from HS immediately formed, haha. We spent 20 minutes there being ignored and hightailed it out to a nice restaurant for the rest of our night. If I actually had to travel, I’d never go. Curiosity got the best of me this time around. Most people haven’t changed. :) The few I care about I keep in touch with, I don’t need a reunion (or it’s costs) to relive my miserable high school years.

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20 Jason Price October 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Ned, yes, one spouse not attending could save some money, but my wife and I do pretty much everything together. We considered her reunion an opportunity for a date night too. Maybe that makes the return even better! :)

Jackie, will you plan our next reunion? I like the way you work!

LB, do agree with you on priorities. Everyone is different and that’s why I suppose they call it “personal” finance. :)

KK, that’s cool of you to say you wouldn’t judge those who chose to go. As LB stated, it’s personal and we all have to determine whether or not we can afford to go, want to go and if it’s worth it.

Angella, sorry to hear about that click thing happening again. Sounds like you made the best of it with a night out.

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21 Jamie@Online Coupons October 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm

I agree with theCase. I went to my 10 year reunion, but – by my 20th reunion – I had already been keeping in touch with all of the friends that I really care to keep in touch with via facebook, so it didn’t hold as much appeal. The weekend of the reunion was a busy one, so I skipped it. I thought I’d feel like I was missing out at some point, but I never did!

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22 RichUncle EL October 25, 2012 at 2:46 pm

I went to mine and it only cost me about 60 dollars with dinner provided and entertainment afterwards. (Dancing) I would do it again as long as it stays under a hundo.

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23 Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager October 25, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I haven’t had one yet, but I think I’d go when the time comes up.

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24 Jessica October 25, 2012 at 3:32 pm

I didn’t go to my 10th high school reunion and i won’t be going to any of the others either. As it was, I graduated almost a year early and worked the other 3 years of high school so i want the most social. I keep in touch with a few people through Facebook and don’t really worry about the rest of the classmates

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25 savvyfinanciallatina October 25, 2012 at 5:16 pm

That’s what facebook is for.

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26 Chris October 25, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I don’t think I will go to mine. I also have no clue where I’ll be next month let alone 5 years so it’s really too soon to tell. I see very little benefit to what would cost probably over $100.

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27 Budget & the Beach October 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I’ve never been to any of mine, but it’s not that I wouldn’t in the future. You’re right in that if it means something to you, it’s totally worth it. It probably would be worth it to me anyway since my parents still live in my hometown, so I’d get a visit with them as well.

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28 Cassi October 25, 2012 at 8:35 pm

I’m currently in a senior in high school, so the thought of graduation and having a real life and going to reunions is currently a touchy subject.

I went to my mom’s when I was 10 and really enjoyed it because I made friends with her friend’s daughter, so I foresee myself going.

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29 Dee Dee October 25, 2012 at 9:53 pm

I graduated in 1979. I went to my 30th reunion in 2009 and it was absolutely worth it. I graduated from a very small highschool….my graduating class was the largest at the time and there has never been a larger class since. We had a class of 57 students. Not only did I know each one of my classmates, but I knew, by name, everyone in my highschool. Going to my high school renunion was a blast and it was very inexpensive. (I’m thinking the total cost for my husband and I to attend was around $50.) I knew every single class member that walked in the door that evening…and it had been 30 years since I had seen many of them. Go to your class reunion. Those that do attend, want to see everyone.

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30 Edward Antrobus October 26, 2012 at 12:22 am

I was on the committee to plan my 10 year reunion. It was a complete disaster, with one person vetoing most of the ideas without putting in any effort herself. In the end, 9 people showed up, out of a class of 127. To make matters worse, I was the only one from the committee to go!

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31 Adam Hathaway October 26, 2012 at 11:02 am

Since I am able to stay somewhat up to date on many of my HS friends I would say it is worth the cost. Before FB going to a 10 year was more about curiosity than anything else. If you did not see someone in 10 years they were almost complete strangers. Although I think every 10 years is good and nothing in between as that might be too much.

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32 J. Money October 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm

I wonder if it would matter if we changed it to a COLLEGE reunion over high school? Or maybe we all stay in touch w/ those people more? (Probably… esp w/ Facebook – that totally changed the game! :))

Big thanks again to Jason for starting this discussion here and giving me a day off from blogging – you rock man.

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33 Emily @ evolvingPF October 28, 2012 at 11:01 pm

I really loved my high school and college experiences and made really wonderful friends. So far I have chosen to attend my 5-year HS and 5-year college reunions.

The HS one sucked but it was free – I was in town anyway visiting my parents for Thanksgiving and it was held at a bar (hence why it sucked). I think the 10-year is in a better venue but probably also pricier.

For our college reunion we shelled out big bucks for travel (two cross-country flights) but the reunion itself wasn’t very expensive (just the cost of the meals) and we stayed with my in-laws. It was a multi-purpose trip as we were able to see family as well and we don’t often get to see our college friends since most of them live on the coast we attended college on.

I’m fairly sure I’ll attend my 10-year HS reunion – same situation with being in town anyway, most likely – as well as our 10-year college reunion at least. In addition to seeing old friends and catching up on what the schools are doing, they are great networking opportunities.

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34 J. Money October 29, 2012 at 9:57 am

I agree with you on that – they’re GREAT for networking and catching up! The best is when your old friend also gets back the status of NEW friend, haha…

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35 Pam October 30, 2012 at 7:37 pm

High school reunions are a waste of money, especially my cousins. He was told that he had to pay $250 just to get into a country club and that was on top of the plane tickets, hotel costs and food.

Pam

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36 J. Money June 26, 2013 at 12:31 pm

As a new parent myself – I can totally relate! :)

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37 KlassyPup August 20, 2014 at 11:17 pm

My 20th reunion is coming up. Facebook poll set up where the cheapest option is $200 per person, for a banquet and maybe a picnic. The other options were a cruise and a more expensive cruise. They didn’t take the feedback of “Hey, that’s crazy expensive, why not something a bit cheaper?” very well. Needless to say I’m not going.

Someone even came up with a cheaper idea and we got radio silence from the planning committee, we were reminded that no one else had volunteered to be on the committee, then were told to just vote for the existing options. Like a bratty teenager planning their sweet 16 or bridezilla insisting on having *her* special day *her* way or else. Way to make it about your classmates and not yourself, a-hole.

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38 J. Money August 21, 2014 at 4:44 pm

Ouch! What % of people can afford $200? And out of those would *could*, who would CHOOSE to? That’s crazy talk… I get that some people would prefer a fancier get together – I do myself at times – but the point is to reunite everyone together and catch up, the rest is secondary. So to limit the amount of participation with a rate like that is pretty sad. And $200 is the cheapest you mentioned – imagine if the votes go towards the highest??

What a mess.

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39 HJones September 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm

My 40th reunion is next year. I’m helping to plan it. I went to 10, 20 and 30 and had a great time at each of them, but I like that sort of stuff. My personal goal for this one is to keep it as cheap as possible so money not a valid objection to coming. The economy is tough and some of my old classmates just don’t have the funds. Our class was a little over 400 people. I am hoping for at least 150 (including spouses) to show up after 40 years. We’ve had very good attendance up to this point. I think we can commercialize it a bit with some ads and keep the cost down to $10 per person with a cash bar and some finger foods. I just want to see my friends, I’m not really there for the food.

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40 J. Money September 10, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Good for you! Great mentality to have – it really is all about the *people* not the fancy stuff that costs a ton of money. I hope it turns out great and is a lot of fun!!

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