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.

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