2012's class of incoming grade-schoolers may be the best-dressed yet. According to a survey of 1,000 moms of elementary school students conducted by Women & Co. and Parenting.com, 91% say that they spend more on their children's fall wardrobes than their own -- and 60% say that clothing will be their single biggest expense of the back-to-school shopping season. The average mom will spend $131 on clothing and an additional $48 on school supplies per child, so it's no surprise that retailers are expecting this year's back-to-school shopping season to be the strongest it's been in years, with an expected $30.3 billion being spent on students in grades K-12 this fall, according to the National Retail Federation.
But how are moms really feeling about all of the shopping and spending on school-related costs this year? And will they be saving anything along the way? Women & Co.'s national survey with Parenting.com looked at the biggest money issues on moms' minds this back-to-school season:
• Most moms plan to stick to their back-to-school budgets. 53% set a budget for back-to-school shopping and will spend what they expect, but 1 in 4 confessed to usually getting carried away and buying more than they should. The most likely to over-spend? Moms in the Northeast. On the flip side, moms in the Midwest -- who were also ironically the least likely to think of themselves as bargain-hunters -- were the most likely to under-spend during back-to-school season.
• School fundraisers are starting to take their toll. Over half of moms said that school fundraisers were becoming a burden, and 17% said they no longer had the time or resources to keep up with what's being asked of them.
• The cost of college is worrying public school parents. 69% of respondents overall were uncomfortable with the amount of money that they had saved for their child's college education, but nearly half of public school parents felt "very" uncomfortable with the amount that they had saved -- yet only 29% of private school parents felt the same.
• School supply lists are getting longer and more complicated. 26% think that their child's school supply list is too long, and another 22% think it's too specific, which makes finding the right supplies extremely difficult. The complaints about supply lists increased with parents of older kids, as lists get more complex once kids move on to higher grades.
But despite all of the money issues on moms' minds, they're still picking up the tab for the majority of their kids' school expenses. Only 12% have their kids pay for any of their own back-to-school shopping, but many are using back-to-school as an opportunity to teach kids about money: Over half (55%) use the back-to-school season as a reason to have a money talk with their kids. For tips on how to use school shopping as a teachable money moment with your children, check out Women & Co.'s 7 Back-to-School Money Lessons for Kids.
With all of the growing supply lists and fundraising demands and worries about college savings, you'd think that shopping and spending money would be the school-year task moms detest more than anything else -- but guess again. It's not the long lines at the office-supply store that bother them most -- it's the long lazy days of summer that kids find so hard to let go: According to the survey, getting kids back on a school schedule was moms' #1 most-dreaded back-to-school chore.
How are you planning on spending wisely this back-to-school season?
For more coverage of the Women & Co./Parenting.com Back-to-School Spending Report, visit www.Parenting.com.
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