Based on a July survey of 500 U.S. households with K-12 students, the majority said they'll spend more (39 percent) or the same (41 percent) this year outfitting their kids for class than in 2009.

Among the survey's details:

$550: Amount spent by the average family of four on school expenses

$240: Average spending on apparel (including socks/underwear, T-shirts, sneakers and jeans)

$100: Average spending on shoes

$90: Average spending on school supplies

94 percent: Want to stretch their back-to-school dollars

How they're doing it:

63 percent: Sticking to a budget

76 percent: Shopping for clearance/sale merchandise

63 percent: Clipping coupons and/or watching for store promotions

51 percent: Reusing last year's items

51 percent: Buying only what the school requires, not extras

27 percent: Getting hand-me-downs

22 percent: Shopping consignment stores

One-third: Percentage of parents buying back-to-school electronics. Most popular purchases: Computers (18 percent) and scientific calculators (16 percent)

And in a finding that surprised surveyors:

45 percent: Parents who said they'll dole out money for cosmetic services for their kids, including teeth whitening, waxing and even tattoos.

Source: American Express Spending & Saving Tracker

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, www.scrippsnews.com.