Surprising Back to School Expenses to Plan For

October 4, 2017

Now that the kids have gone back to school, you may be checking your budget to see just where all that cash went. Back to school is the second biggest shopping season of the year. In 2016, families spent approximately $27 billion to send 53 million kids into the classroom.

A Deloitte survey estimates that, in 2017, families will run up, on the average, $501 in back-to-school spending per K-12 child. That’s up from $488 in 2016. Where has all that money been spent? Here’s a countdown of the four biggest back-to-school expenses…

  1. Electronic devices

Phones, tablets, e-readers, smart wrist watches – parents arm kids with whatever electronic devices they think will keep them safer or make them better students. In 2017, electronic devices were projected to comprise 9% of back-to-school spending, down slightly from 2016. While only 18% of parents expected to make these purchases, they planned to spend on the average $254 per child.

  1. Computers and peripherals

It’s hard to imagine students without computers and the associated peripherals, like printers and backup drives. Parents expected to fork out a full 14% of their back-to-school spending on these in 2017. The 23% of parents who were planning to buy computers and peripherals anticipated they would spend, on the average, $307 for each child – making it the largest spend by category.

  1. School supplies

This one’s pretty obvious. Every kid needs school supplies, right? Backpacks, lunch boxes, notebooks, pens. In fact, in 2017, 98% of parents intended to buy school supplies totaling about $104 per child. This expenditure was estimated to account for 20% of the total back-to-school outlay – down about 4% from 2016, likely due to the number of families purchasing preconfigured school supply kits, which 30% of them had planned to do.

  1. Clothes and Accessories

Shopping for clothes and accessories, like shoes and belts, has been a mainstay of back-to-school shopping. What hasn’t been consistent is the amount families spend to get their kids to school in style. In 2017, families were expected to spend a whopping 55% of their total back-to-school expenses on clothing and accessories. That’s 10% higher than 2016. A full 97% of families had planned to spend an average of $284 per child on back-to-school clothes and accessories this year.

No doubt about it: sending kids to school is expensive. Budgeting for back-to-school expenses is something that should happen early in the year, not after the fact. A trusted accountant can help you not only with tax preparation but with managing your finances all year long.

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