It used to be that this time of year, kids were sharpening their pencils in preparation for the new school year, but these days students are more likely to be charging up laptops than lining up pencils as the big first day back in the classroom approaches.
A survey of families with school-age children conducted by American Express this summer says that anticipated average spending on electronics, such as e-readers, cell phones, tablets and laptops, is up nine percent from last year.
What’s on the List?
The American Express Spending and Saving Tracker found that 36 percent of parents plan to buy some type of electronics for their kids this year. Laptops were on the list for 15 percent of them, while 15 percent said they’d be shopping for scientific calculators, 13 percent were looking at cell phone purchases, and nine percent planned to buy e-readers or tablets for their children.
As more and more families send their kids into classrooms with cell phones so they can stay in touch, anticipated spending on cell phones doubled from 2011, with consumers planning to shell out an average of $358 on cell phones, compared with $154 this year.
Affording the New Necessities
Clair Bennett, executive vice president of loyalty and membership benefits at American Express, said in a press release accompanying the study that, “the data shows digital devices like tablets and e-readers are increasingly becoming back-to-school necessities, and not just nice-to-haves.”
With 83 percent of American families planning to shop for back-to-school this season, and more expensive items being added to the list, how can people stretch their budgets to accommodate their children’s high-ticket needs?
One way that families can save is by thinking about what payment method they will use to make their back-to-school purchases.
Credit Card Roulette
“People may not realize they can save money just by thinking about how they will pay before they get to the register. The average consumer has three or four credit cards, and by choosing one card over another, they can get cash back on their purchases,” says Roman Shteyn, co-founder and CEO of Credit-Land.com. “Our company did a study on back-to-school shopping and found that on average, families can save five percent on their purchases by using different payment methods for different categories of shopping,” explains Shteyn.
One of the key findings of the Credit-Land.com study showed that when shopping for electronics, consumers using a U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa Signature card could get five percent cash back at the Apple Store and Best Buy this fall. Business credit card holders with a SimplyCash Business card from American Express OPEN could also get five percent cash back at Staples or Office Depot.
If families do get cash back from their back-to-school shopping, they may want to consider putting it aside to save up for the next big spending season – the winter holidays are right around the corner!