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Most parents plan to spend more than they did last year. Can you guess on what?

Nearly a third of all parents and almost half of college freshman are recuperating from the July 4 weekend by shopping for back-to-school items. And they plan to spend nearly $1,000 between now and the first day of school.

While clothes are the obvious top choice, tech is a close second. Specifically, tablets. “About half (51 percent) of K-8 parents who are shopping for tech are shopping for tablets,” says a survey released this morning by Rubicon Project, an advertising automation company.

Tech is the top expense for back-to-school shopping

Most parents plan to shop on Amazon for tech, with the biggest-budget item either a laptop, tablet, or new phone, the survey says. However, parents are grabbing apparel and school supplies at traditional brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart.

Most parents of K-12 kids and college freshmen plan to do their tech shopping on mobile devices, as 60 percent of the respondents said they are expecting to shop online. Specifically, parents plan to shop on Amazon for their major tech purchases, however many parents also plan to buy school supplies on Amazon as well.


Parents are spending more in college expenses than ever

Parents of college freshmen expect to spend the most money this summer, and at least half of them have already started shopping.

“Parents of incoming freshmen will feel the financial strain this summer as they plan to spend on average $1,378 on their child’s back-to-school shopping,” the survey says. “This number almost doubles the $684 K-12 parents will spend.”

More money will be spent on tech ($470) than on dorm room expenses ($324). Almost two-thirds of families plan to change their mobile phone plans, and almost half of parents are planning to purchase or lease a car for their children.

Who is doing the shopping?

While moms still handle the majority of back-to-school shopping, dads are more likely to take up tech-buying duty and online shopping. And they’re more comfortable doing it from a phone.

“Forty-one percent of dads said they will do at least a quarter of their online shopping on a mobile device, compared to just 24 percent of moms,” the survey says. That doesn’t mean they’re rushing the process. More than 70 percent of respondents plan to check out retailer apps before making a purchase, either online or in-person. And two-thirds will use mobile apps to compare prices.

Beyond school supplies

The survey also talks about a big expense that’s not back-to-school but back-to-home. Even after graduation, more than 60 percent of parents expect their child to move home — and nearly all of them (90 percent) are actually OK with it. Most wouldn’t even charge rent.

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Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn


Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Budgeting & Saving, College

apps, back to school, college savings, shop online

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