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.