back-to-school notebooks, folders, pens, pencils,
binders and a scientific calculator added up to $100 for
sixth-grader Kaylee Betts.
school uniforms for the 11-year-old girl ended up
costing another $350.
just get whatever is on the school list," said
Darlene Betts, 48, of Warren, Mich.
only real extra: A $14.99 little disco ball light for
back-to-school list is never-ending. Stuffing small
backpacks with crayons and safety scissors soon turns to
a time for decorating middle school lockers. And then itís
on to the days of dishing out big bucks for outfitting a
dorm room, when some parents find themselves pricing
mini-fridges and carpeting.
along the way, the back-to-school displays are stocked
with supplies and splurges.
for wallets, consumers arenít at the point yet where
theyíre spending as much during back-to-school
shopping sprees as they do for the holidays.
National Retail Federation estimates that total
back-to-school spending will hit $78.5 billion this
year. Shoppers are expected to spend on average $674, up
from $630 last year.
contrast, holiday sales hit $626.1 billion last year,
according to the retail trade group.
average amount parents are expected to spend on school
supplies this year is about $108. But clothing and shoes
could add up to an average $363. About $204 is estimated
to be spent on back-to-school electronics.
said she saved big money by avoiding all the other
trinkets that are sold to decorate lockers ó the
magnetic frames, the mesh locker shelves, the mirrors,
the beaded curtains for lockers.
back-to-school sales allowed Betts to take advantage of
20 percent-off sales and other deals. Her shopping was
done by early August in plenty of time for Kayleeís
first day back to school on Aug. 22.
kind of enjoy it. I remember when I was going back to
school," said Darlene Betts.
half of parents, though, say the No. 1 thing they dread
about the back-to-school shopping season is not being
able to afford everything, according to an online survey
conducted on behalf of Ebates.
doubt, itís not shocking that a site that promotes
cash-back coupons would discover that people are worried
about having enough money.
if youíre a parent and this isnít your first rodeo,
you know that the to-buy lists for school can be
outrageously long and at some point along the way, you
could very well be ready to say enough is enough.
drama lurks in every aisle: Gym clothes and sneakers,
affordable cellphone plans, eyeglasses and rolling
the sales help is no help.
summer, my 18-year-old son was trying on eyeglass frames
and asked to see thin metal frames. The woman gave him a
thick, black plastic frame that, well, I immediately
said made him look like a dork.
young woman then asked who she should be trying to
please, the person wearing the glasses or me? Since I
would be the one who would have to dish out the $500 or
more for those glasses, I responded that Iíd say my
stress? You betcha.
I thought, maybe I should have been a little kinder, a
little less blunt by saying something like "OK. But
why donít you try on these, honey?"
honestly, then my son might wonder who was impersonating
his mother. Itís just not how we roll. If itís ugly,
weíre not spending two more minutes looking at it.
itís the little purchases that send you over. Maybe
you just canít see why a teen going off to college
needs upscale velvet hangers for $20 or $30 instead of
functional plastic ones for $2 or $3.
it comes to sending a student off to college, it gets to
the point where you feel you have to throw the
equivalent of a bridal shower to outfit their dorm
friend said she draws the line at spending hundreds of
dollars on a small refrigerator, microwave and TV, given
that all those needs are covered by a meal plan or
common areas on the campus or dorm.
yet: Some of this stuff is just tossed when students
move out of the dorm.
temptation to overpack for college is clear. Loyola
University Chicago even suggests on its website that
"everything you need should fit into two moving
carts" and then lists the size of the carts.
Daryl Shulman, the author of "Bought Out and
$pent!" and a counselor compulsive shoppers, said
sometimes parents are so busy, they may think that it is
less time-consuming to just binge up front and get the
students what they want.
feel like they need to keep up with their peers more
than ever," Shulman said.
parents want their kids to fit in ó or at least look
forward to going to school.
parents even worry that their kids will be teased if
they have a prepaid plan for a basic cellphone ó not
the iPhone 6s or soon the iPhone 7.
given the other financial demands that families face ó
such as worrying about college tuition ó it makes
sense to have honest conversations about whether a
big-ticket item ó or a disco ball ó is in the budget
this back-to-school season. A little glitz could be fine
with the glue sticks ó especially if youíd like to
party like itís 1979.