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Parents break the bank for back-to-school shopping

Americans will spend an estimated $26.5 billion on back-to-school items this year.

By MSN Money Partner Jul 23, 2014 12:16PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.


Money Talks News on MSN MoneyBack-to-school shopping is in full swing. And parents are being forced to open their wallets wide to pay for their children's school-related expenses.


Children leaning against a school bus © Hero Images/CorbisA recent RetailMeNot survey found that two-thirds of parents will start back-to-school shopping by the end of July.


Also, it found that parents will spend some serious cash, $659 on average, on school-related costs for their family throughout the school year.


It takes a lot more than a new outfit or two and some pencils to prepare for a new school year these days. Parents now have to budget for multipage school supply lists and extracurricular activities. A RetailMeNot press release said:

"It's important to factor in the costs of extracurricular activities in order to stay within budget for the school year," says Trae Bodge, senior lifestyle editor for The Real Deal by RetailMeNot. "Surprises usually do come up during the year. Whether it's a birthday party for the classroom or a fundraiser for art class, there are plenty of ways to save and stretch your budget by shopping early and always looking for discounts."

The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend a staggering $26.5 billion on back-to-school shopping this year. That includes money for classroom supplies, electronics, clothes and shoes. Parents with high school students spend the most, while those with elementary school-age kids get off the cheapest.


RetailMeNot found that 3 in 4 parents have cut back on purchases for themselves -- like dinner, vacations, and clothing and shoes -- so they can afford their child's school-related costs.


Here are a couple more highlights from the RetailMeNot survey:

  • Extracurricular activities. Nearly 9 in 10 parents said their child participates in extracurricular activities during the school year. Extracurriculars come with a hefty price tag -- $396 on average.
  • Online vs. in-store. The number of parents planning to shop for back-to-school supplies solely in a physical store has fallen from 72 percent in 2013 to 60 percent in 2014.

I remember my parents stressing out when we started the back-to-school routine. It's understandable, considering they had five kids to clothe and prepare for school with the necessary classroom supplies.


Last year, my husband and I were preparing our then 3-year-old daughter to attend preschool. We had a lengthy list -- including the typical crayons, scissors, glue and paper, as well as tissues, baby wipes and sanitizing wipes, among others. It wasn't cheap, and I know it's going to continue to go up.


How much do you spend on back-to-school items? Do you have any cost-saving back-to-school shopping tips?


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