Back-to-school shopping lists are shorter this year, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to reduced costs. A survey of families shopping for their kids’ first day back shows that many people are budgeting more for items like laptops, smartphones and tablets.
Half of all families with children in kindergarten through high school will purchase some sort of digital item while doing their back-to-school shopping, according to the latest American Express Spending and Savings Tracker. Last year, only 36% of parents planned to shell out for electronic devices.
Most popular on the list are laptops with a quarter of respondents saying they plan to buy them. Rounding out the list are scientific calculators (18%), tablets (15%) and mobile phones (13%).
Parents said that around 12 is the right time to add their child to the family wireless plan. Not just any old flip phone will do though. Almost 70% of parents shopping for phones said they plan to get a smartphone for their child.
Technology: Start them young
People may be surprised to learn that although students of all ages are utilizing digital learning devices at a rapidly increasing rate, younger kids are even more likely to use technology in the classroom than high school students.
Seventy-four percent of kindergarten through eighth-grade students regularly use digital devices to enhance classroom activities, compared with 70% of those in grades 9-12. The most popular tool in elementary and middle school classes is a tablet with 48% of kids using them in class, while a slightly smaller percentage (43%) of high schoolers use tablets to support learning.
Traditional tools still essential
Though electronics might take the biggest bite out of parents’ budgets, they’ll still spend money on traditional supplies like pencils, crayons and glue. The average anticipated spending on non-digital supplies was $102.
Respondents said they expect they’ll have to purchase textbooks not supplied by the school, though the amount they think they’ll fork over is a little less than last year: $193 compared with $209. Many families say they’ll scale back on spending in other areas in order to accommodate back-to-school costs. Sixty-nine percent plan to make some cutbacks, with 51% eating out less; 39% saying they’ll reduce clothing and accessory budgets; 36% cutting down on entertainment spending; and 31% planning to spend less on travel.