Average Parent Expected to Spend $685 on Back-to-School 2018

With July drawing to a close, back-to-school season is upon us. Not only is this annual tradition mostly dreaded by students but can also take a toll on parents’ finances. In fact, according to a new survey by WalletHub, the average parent is expected to spend nearly $700 on supplies.

WalletHub’s survey found that two out of every five parents expect to spend more on back-to-school shopping this year than they did last year. Despite that, the average anticipated spend dipped from $688 in 2017 to $685 this school year. To help them cut that still sizeable cost, one-third of respondents say they’d apply for a new credit card if it saved them 5% on back-to-school shopping.

Although back-to-school expenses can add up, several parents did express their excitement for the various deals they’d be able to take advantage of. For example 46% said they were most looking forward to sales on clothing while 36% were anticipating deals on basic supplies and 7% were eyeing tech purchases. Beyond the specials offered by specific retailers, certain states also offer tax holidays as back-to-school approaches, offering tax-free sales on select items.

Speaking of retailers, WalletHub also inquired where parents thought the best place to complete their back-to-school shopping was. Leading the way by a large margin was Walmart with 30% of the vote. The big box icon was followed by Target (17%), Amazon (14%), and Staples (11%). Additionally Dollar Tree and Costco were tied for fifth place at 6% each.

Turning from back-to-school to graduation, the top concern parents have for their children after graduating college is debt (34%). Close behind with one-third of parents expressing their worries is the job market. However 11% said they didn’t have any post-graduation worries.

Finally WalletHub asked parents what age they thought their children should be when they received their first credit card. With 53%, the most popular response to that question was 21 or older. Meanwhile 40% of respondents said they should get their first card between the ages of 18 and 21, with another 7% suggesting kids should receive credit cards before age 18.

There’s no question that back-to-school shopping can prove to be a major expense for many parents but there is some relief to be found in the various deals offered by retailers along with the tax holidays some states enjoy. Additionally back-to-school shopping may be a good opportunity for parents to teach their students about personal finance and budgeting (a topic that 50% of those surveyed say people need to go back to school to learn). With that, hopefully parents can make the most out of this year’s back-to-school season and not spend a fortune.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded DyerNews.com in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

Other Articles by Jonathan Dyer

Carbon Credit API Cloverly Joins Visa's FinTech Partner Connect 

Last year, Visa introduced the FinTech Partner Connect program to the United States, with the goal of introducing institutions to vetted startups that could help them expand their product offerings. Now, the latest company to join the program is Cloverly. Founded in 2019, Cloverly is an API for carbon credits, allowing businesses and consumers to help fight climate change. As the company points out, with the Visa partnership, Visa clients...

Prosper Announces $75 Million Growth Capital Financing

A long-admired FinTech has added some new capital to its coffers and it continues to grow after more than 15 years in business. Recently, Prosper Marketplace announced that it had closed a $75 million debt financing round. This capital came from a fund managed by Neuberger Bergman and will be used to help Prosper meet the demand for its loans, credit card, investment products, and more. According to the company,...

Small Business Saturday 2022 Drives Projected $17.9 Billion in Sales

This past weekend saw the kick-off to the holiday shopping season with Black Friday followed by Small Business Saturday. Now in its 13th year, the latter is a promotion meant to raise awareness for small local businesses and encourage consumers to support them. Now, the initial figures from this year's event have arrived. According to American Express (which actually invented the retail holiday in 2010), an estimated $17.9 billion were...