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Parents Break the Bank For Back-to-School Purchases

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Gone are the days when parents thought pencils and Trapper Keepers were enough to start the school year. Now school-related expenses include hefty costs on extracurricular activities and the latest trendy clothing! According to a recent survey conducted by digital offers destination RetailMeNot and The Omnibus Company, parents spend on average$659 on school-related costs throughout the year per family.

According to the survey, 67% of parents start their back-to-school shopping by the end of July, which is down slightly from last year (71%).

Extracurricular expenditures

Nearly 9 in 10 parents (88%) surveyed report that their child participates in extracurricular activities during the school year. These activities add significant costs onto parents’ education expenditures—on average, they add up to $396 throughout the school year. Moreover, working parents are spending even more than non-working parents to keep their kids involved ($428 vs. $301).

Whether kids are participating in sports teams (53%), class day-trips (53%), music or theater clubs (32%) or fundraising (32%), costs associated with these activities mount up. Almost all parents (90%) acknowledge contributing monetarily to extracurricular student activities or school-related fundraising.

School sacrifices

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Research suggests that school-related costs impact the spending habits of parents. In fact, 3 in 4 parents have spent less on something for themselves specifically because of their child’s education costs. And more working parents than non-working parents (78% vs. 68%) have spent less on items for themselves due to school fees. The top items parents have cut back on for themselves include clothing or shoes (56%), dining out (55%) and vacations (49%).

The ways people are back-to-school shopping may be shifting as well, as online shopping is increasingly playing a larger role in the season. Only 60% of parents plan to shop mostly or completely in a physical store this year, compared to more than 7 in 10 (72%) who did so last year.

Parents dress to impress

School volunteering means more than just helping the kids. Research found that over half of parents (56%) would take an action specifically to impress others, and volunteering for school events tops the list (40%). What’s more, 34% of these parents admit they would dress up for school events, donate to or attend fundraising events to see and be seen. Additional activities that these parents admit to doing specifically just to impress others:

  • Buying their child name-brand, popular or expensive clothing (30%)
  • Donating money to the school (24%)
  • Purchasing their child the latest gadgets (24%)
  • Hosting impressive parties for their child (16%)
  • Taking their child on lavish vacations (16%)
  • Giving their child a high allowance (14%)
  • Hiring a tutor (14%)
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