Jesse Jones

Tips for parents with Back to School spending expected to be the most expensive ever

According to a new survey, ‘Back to School’ shoppers are expected to spend more than $41 billion this year, making it the most expensive back-to-school year ever.

“You got to get the book bag, the shoes, the clothes, I think it is worse than Christmas,” said Janai Ray of Ballard.

Ray was shopping with her three children and she knew it was going to be expensive.

According to the National Retail Federation, families with children in elementary through high school will spend a record $890 per household - up $25 from last year.

“And you can’t go wrong with some of the kids. We’re getting toys or gadgets and stuff for back to school. You need clothes, shoes, undergarments, hygiene products,” Ray said. “Okay. I mean, you know, it’s like moving into a house with nothing in it.”

Ray’s shopping plan is smart. She starts online and ends at brick-and-mortar stores.

“First, we start online shopping, figure out what the fashion is for the season,” Ray said. “Then if we can find some cute things in the stores, then we will grab those as we go. Then we move on to the school supplies.”

The items on top of shoppers’ lists are electronics at #1 with $15.2 billion to be spent on laptops, tablets and calculators. Clothes are next at $12 billion.

With US credit card debt reaching more than a trillion dollars this year, according to a CNET Money survey, 43% of back-to-school shoppers will have to finance their purchases.

And for those parents with older kids, parents should have them share back-to-school costs.

Ted Rossman, senior analyst for BankRate says parents can turn it into a teaching moment.

“I know kids are saying, gimme, gimme, gimme. And it’s hard to stay on track,” Rossman said. “But that actually brings up another idea, which is involve your kids in the process in an age-appropriate way. I mean, especially for teens and tweens, but even for younger kids. Talk about the budget, you know, maybe help them sort through the choices. And this is really essential. Personal finance advice, I think, is the idea of tradeoffs, that if you’re going to splurge more in one category, maybe you’ve got to cut back on something else.”

Some parents must make a choice between spending big on back-to-school or on Christmas, which will be here before parents know it.

Just make sure you’re not still paying for them months or even years to come.