As the mother of a teenage girl, a recent email and flyer about a "formal dress swap" caught my attention faster than most emails do.

Called "Dress FX," parents and students at Gilbert High School are turning the high cost of beautiful dresses into a chance to raise funds for their After Prom event. Because girls - or at least their parents - are looking for less expensive ways to get those special dresses to wear, Dress FX could be just the ticket.

Here’s how it works:

High school girls from all over the area are invited to bring in their gently used formal dresses (long or short), as well as shoes and coverups. Collections are being taken Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 2:30-4 p.m. and Saturday, Oct. 19 from 9 a.m.-noon in the Gilbert High School commons (south entrance). And, by the way, Gilbert students are now going to school in their new high school, south of the main highway and the old high school.

Those who are donating will set the price for their dress or other items.

If the dress sells, the donator will get half the proceeds. The other half will go to the GHS After Prom fund.

Organizers of the event stipulate that the formal wear must be clean, be a current style and be in very good condition. Dress FX will also accept outright donations of formal wear, so that 100 percent of the proceeds from those donations can be used toward the After Prom event.

So, if you have dresses you’d like to donate and perhaps make a little money back on, that is how the first part of this event works.

Now for the second part.

Whether you donated a dress or not, all area girls are invited to the sale of the dresses that have been collected. The sale will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 12, from 6-9 p.m. in the Gilbert High School commons.

In this day and age, where schools are having more formal events than ever and girls don’t want to be left out on having a beautiful dress to wear, I think any type of event or place that can help parents save money is a thing worth talking about and utilizing.

Some may think they are above purchasing "used" or "cheap" things, but here’s a little story that has always stuck with me.

One of my best friends, who is about 20 years older than me, is a very wealthy lady. She and her husband (now deceased) owned lots of land, much of which has been sold for housing developments. They’ve had many nice things - new cars, boats, motorcycles, a beautiful house, etc. But when I used to stay with them, I would notice they had many cheap, generic products in their home. Even their toilet paper was a really cheap, generic brand. So I had to ask - "Do you really like this toilet paper?" She was like a second mother to me, so I could ask things like that.

I can’t remember the exact words she used, but my friend told me the story of how she and her husband achieved their wealth, because they hadn’t always been rich. In fact, when they first married, they were quite the opposite. They didn’t spend money on anything they didn’t need. They borrowed things if they could. They bought generic products rather than brand name goods. Over time, her husband got a great job and, because of his abilities, they later opened a side business and started making money - lots of it. But even though they knew they could afford "the best" things, she told me they realized that they could live without a lot of the best things, and by living without a lot of those expensive things, their wealth increased that much more. Plus, even though they enjoyed many of the finer things in life, they also lived with a lot of simplicity.

Teenage girls are young and often influenced by their friends and by what society dictates for them - like the new, best dresses that cost a lot of money. Even parents can be swayed by wanting their children to have the best of everything. But a great thing for all of us to learn is that, while it might be OK to have the newest, best things once in awhile, it’s not always necessary to have them. Your self-worth is not defined by the amount you spend on a dress or anything else. You are who you for a lot of other great reasons.

Save your money. Save your parents’ money! Be happy with what you have, and never, never think you have to "keep up with the Joneses." Life isn’t about having the best of everything. Sure it’s fun to shop for nice things once in awhile, but if you learn at times to live with less, you may eventually have more than you ever thought possible.

Good luck to the Gilbert After Prom committee. Great idea! And thanks for allowing kids from the surrounding districts to get in on it!

(Marlys Barker is editor of the Nevada Journal and Tri-County Times.)