Women & Co.’s 2012 Back To School Spending Report (VISA Gift Card Giveaway)

Recently, Citi’s personal finance resource for women – Women & Co. – teamed up with Parenting.com to survey 1,000 moms about back to school spending for the upcoming school year. The 2012 Back to School Spending Report uncovered several trends, including:

  • clothing is the biggest expense in back to school shopping, with 91% of mothers surveyed admitting they spend more on their kids’ wardrobe than their own
  • 1 in 4 mothers believe they “overdo” it when it comes to spending for back to school
  • only 12% of moms have their children help with purchasing back to school clothing and supplies

Back-to-School-Spending-Infographic_Women & Co.
*Visit Women & Co. for the full 2012 Back To School Spending Report

Can you identify with any of these statistics? I have four kids going back to school this year – one starting college, two in high school, and one in elementary school. Clothing is definitely our #1 expense, especially with my 11yo son, who seems to grow through clothing sizes at an alarming rate.

I also think the national average of $131 for clothing and $48 for supplies per child is fairly conservative, at least for our family. How much do you estimate you spend per child for Back To School?

Women & Co. suggests that Back To School shopping season is the perfect opportunity to talk with your children about money. There are several ways you can involve your child in budgeting for Back To School:

  • look through the supplies and clothing you already have to determine a current “inventory” and perhaps eliminate items from your shopping list
  • look for promotions, specials, and coupons for the items on your list
  • comparison shop between retailers in order to get the best prices
  • ask your child to save their own money to assist with buying Back To School items
  • set a realistic budget with your child and stick to it!

For more personal finance advice and education about Back To School and more, visit the Women & Co. website, where you can sign up for their weekly newsletter. You can also keep up Women & Co.’s regular finance tips through their Twitter stream at @WomenandCo.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be taking on a Back To School Shopping Challenge with my kids. With gift cards provided by Citi for each of my three school-aged children at home, we will see how well we can stay under the $141 national average for Back To School clothing expenses for each child. I plan on using several of the money-saving techniques suggested above, and then I will come back and report our experiences to you here at 5 Minutes for Mom!

Win a $50 VISA Gift Card for Your Own Back To School Shopping Challenge

Four (4) readers at 5 Minutes for Mom will each win a $50 VISA Gift Card to embark on their own Back To School Shopping challenge. Gift cards are provided by Citi and available to readers 18 and older; redemption of each gift card is governed by gift card terms. To enter this giveaway, please use the Rafflecopter form below. New to Rafflecopter? Watch this 45-second video on how to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: Gift cards for myself and for giveaway were provided by Citi. All opinions expressed are honest and my own.


  1. Lawanna says

    To save money on back to school items, we assess our needs before shopping. Need new jeans? How many? Need to crayons? Really? We make a list so we know what we need and don’t forget anything.

  2. says

    We save money by going to department store discount stores like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Nordstrom Rack and also shopping on eBay and at thrift stores!

  3. Anne Lehnick says

    I watch for sales on school supplies. As for clothes, I don’t wait to buy them right before school starts. I buy when they are on sale throughout the year and stockpile larger sizes.

  4. Michelle H. says

    I try to buy in bulk and put items away for later to save money. I also have a stash of school supplies for times when we run out mid-year.

  5. Margaret Smith says

    I go through the Sunday Sales papers and pick up sales items at various stores. I usually do this for a few weekends to get all the supplies we need.
    Thanks so much.

  6. I Heller says

    My teen daugher loves Plato’s Closet, so we’re able to save a lot on designer clothes for her…it’s the only way to go.

  7. Janet W. says

    I save money by shopping clearance when I can and buy using coupons. It’s also beneficial to compare prices at several stores.

  8. Chrissy Nestor says

    I make sure to catch all the sales, clip coupons & shop on the tax free weekend.

    chrissylea1979 (at)gmail(dot) com

  9. Tabathia B says

    consignment shops have great deals and I like to shop there on no tax weekend and combine sales with store coupons

  10. Ann Fantom says

    My back to school shopping tip is to make a list of everything we need and set a dollar limit before beginning to shopping. Then stick to it.

  11. Heather Hayes Panjon says

    I save money , by finding the best deals, having a budget, using coupons, only buying what is most needed !:)

  12. Jessica says

    There’s this store around our area that offers really good deals on back-to-school uniforms and school supplies. (4 journals for $1.00?!?!). We’ve been going there for two years now.

    And we like to get our shopping done during tax-free weekend so that helps.

    Clearance racks are very helpful too.

  13. susan wiener says

    I save money by looking at all the ads in the paper and finding the cheapest items for sale before I buy.

  14. Kellie Rose Wilson says

    Shop the on sale rack for clothes and don’t buy all new items each year-reuse from the year before!

  15. HappyMomC says

    I look for online deals, store deals and match them up with coupons. Also, stock up anytime during the year if there are clearance sales.

  16. Fabs says

    We shop consignment stores, and look for sales. I don’t buy a ton of clothes a the beginning of school because they get clothes as part of their Christmas gifts too, that way were not spending a lot of money all at once.

  17. Jamie Brigham says

    I print out coupons online and I ad shop to make sure I am getting the best deal. I take all the ads with me so I can get price matches.

  18. Suzanne K says

    I save money by buying supplies year round when they are on sale for great prices and stockpiling them for when they are needed

  19. LOIS PAYTON says

    I always check the paper for sales and go shopping on the days of the best sales, GOD BLESS AND KEEP YA’LL SAFE IN HIS LOVING ARMS.

  20. Susan Ladd says

    I have to check out clearance racks for clothes and coupons these days to save money.. I want to thank you for this awesome sweep and hope to win :) Thanks !!!!!!

  21. Kylie C says

    I really count on all the deal bloggers that I follow to keep me updated on the best sales out there! Plus we only buy what we need!

  22. Rebecca Peters says

    I try to get school clothes in the spring when wintery stuff is going on clearance.. I try to hit sales also

  23. says

    I follow all the coupon/deal blogs and try to jump on deals when I see them – free or cheap supplies, gift cards with purchase, etc. My fav places to shop ar Target and Staples.

  24. Lim says

    Gather what you have and make some hard calls about what is needed vs what is wanted. A new binder would be nice, but the old one is still useable, etc.

  25. says

    Try to find good sales. Also, I think about what needs to be quality and what can be “cheap.” For example, I buy cheap pants for my 6 year old son because whether they are top quality or poor quality, he gets holes in the knees! :)

  26. Theresa Shafer says

    Group shopping. Going to stores that advertise loss leaders that are limited to so many per customer. We all buy the item. We save gas by car pooling. Everyone is a winner.

    tes 1283 yhoo

  27. Eileen says

    We shop deals early by watching the ads. Looking for promo codes and coupons, and actually gift some of the clothing items for our kids’ bdays. They know how tough it is now so they don’t mind, especially the girls:)

    Thanks so much!

  28. Alecia H. says

    I shop thrift stores and yard sales all summer for clothing and try to hit all the sales for supplies and shoes.

  29. K.Pugh says

    With 4 kids, shopping for school clothes begins as soon as they get out of school. Little by little. I have plenty of other responsibilities.
    Thanks for the chance.

  30. Dwayne Berry says

    I don’t yet. My little girl is only 3. But I’m going to read all of the other posts so I can be ready.

  31. Mary Beth Elderton says

    I take stock of what I already have and make use of dry cleaning and shopping for sales to stretch those things as long as possible.

  32. nataly carbonell says

    I use many coupons as I can I really take advantage of deals and discounts, I try to re-use some supplies that still can be used for example binders and rulers

  33. says

    Shopping online has saved more money than shopping in stores this year. I compared the prices online and they were 20% lower than in stores.

  34. Katharine D says

    coupons matched with sales – many newsletter emails that do all the matching for me so all I have to do it go get it

  35. says

    Research and planning. I pay attention to the school supply sales – I start mid July when the really good sales start. For clothes, I shop year round – always stocking up on items when there are fantastic online sales – but this is the first year that my kids really have strong opinions about what they wear – not to mention this is my first year as a single mom so money is tight!

  36. Ellen C. says

    I keep an eye out all year long for deals on school supplies. You never know when a great deal may come up. Thanks!

  37. Cindy Merrill says

    First places I hit are Dollar Tree, All For $1 and Yankee Dollar stores- lot of back to school items and other practical things, great for those of us with tight budgets.

  38. Dawn says

    I save by price comparing and stocking up when there is a real steal. I have a file cabinet with extra items we’ve accumulated over the last couple of years, its awesome.

  39. Tamra H says

    We always use coupons, and back to school shopping is a great time for those! Manufacturer’s are putting out lots of them, and when you can combine the offers with store coupons or sales, you can really save!

  40. amy marantino says

    i save by watching for sales year-round, and stocking up when i find a good deal. this stuff does not go bad!

  41. Karen Gonyea says

    We do shopping all summer and stock up on the staples when they are on sale; notebooks, pens, underwear, etc, so there is less to buy right before school.

  42. Katy M says

    I like to search the web for coupons and sale match-ups. I also like to go in with other families and buy some items in bulk and split the cost!

  43. Crystal F says

    I buy everything on sale. I may have bought one shirt for my daughter that was full price. I also print coupons online to take to the stores. thank you!

  44. Karen Lynch says

    Coupons and sales. Buy 2 or 3 items if they will need to be replaced during the year. For example spiral notebooks for new semester classes, pencils which we will go through, and paper.

  45. says

    I purchase school clothes at yard sales, thrift stores, or regular stores when they are on sale. I purchase supplies when they are on sale or I have a coupon for them. Thanks.

  46. justine says

    I save money by buying most of their clothing online. Not only is it a better deal but I search for a coupon code to save an additional percentage! PS I have no idea how anyone could spend that little on school clothing and I am pretty conservative!

  47. Diana Stanhope says

    I go on the tax free days and I look all year for bargains so that I don’t need to do any last minute shopping.

  48. says

    I save money by watching for sales flyers, circling what we need and keeping these in the car. Whenever I’m near those stores I know exactly what to pick up.

  49. Tammy S says

    I buy the bulk of my school supplies after school has started and everything is put on clearance. Then I just save them for the following year.

  50. Debbie R says

    I try to start before the end of school to get close-outs and clearance items for when school starts again in the fall

  51. Tamara says

    I look for the best deals, even if it means purchasing online sometimes. I find it fun to look for the cheapest prices on the products I need!

    Thanks for this contest!

  52. Kimberly B. says

    I really find the sales, and I have a list before I go to find clothes that are versatile to go with lots of outfits.

  53. Marianna says

    We arrange a “uniform swap” at school for people to bring uniforms their cihldren have outgrown (Gently used) and pick up “new to them”/free uniforms other moms have donated

  54. Jennifer Souveroff says

    I start shopping early — in July — when stores are just putting out Back to School merchandise and offering great sales & prices during a slow time for them.

  55. Jessica K says

    I save money for back to school by waiting until items are on sale or using ebates to purchase online items

  56. Cheryl Reinhardt says

    I use the flyers in the newspaper to figure out where the best bargains are, and also hit the thrift stores!

  57. Susan Stahley says

    I save money by shopping the clearance and sales racks all year round. I also compare stores sales prices to get the best deal.

  58. bell says

    Shopping at thrift stores…you can find some very cute kids clothes there. Just wash em and they are good as new!

  59. Teresa Moore says

    I shop sales and scan ads and look for discounts online when shopping for school clothes. I also buy in advance clearance items for the next school year like school uniforms and purchase them a size bigger.

  60. Jennifer says

    We buy my teenage son’s clothes at Hollister and Abercrombie in the middle of the summer when they are running the clearance sales.

  61. Rachel says

    I try to shop clearance, shop at the end of the season the previous school year, use 30% off codes combined with Kohls cash at Kohls

  62. Carolsue says

    I look for sales; I use coupons; and I buy what I can at places like the Dollar Store
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  63. micheal dale grim says

    we do all our back to school shopping at walmart,and use coupons when ever and where ever possible

  64. Maryann says

    I comparative shop for the cheapest supplies as long as they are the same products…Target was the best! For the clothes I look for the ones my daughter will like and wait for the sales!

  65. Jackie says

    I coupon for supplies and shop when the stores have deals.. Like when kohls has the $10 kohls cash offers and doorbusters

  66. Jim Cabaj says

    I use lots of coupons and watch the sale ad’s for items that my house uses. Only buy what you know your family will use and need.

  67. Tiffany Hearn says

    I shop sales and use coupons and try to buy separates that my kids can mix and match to make different outfits.. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  68. Leslie L. Stanziani says

    My kids are home schooled so I wait till after school starts and go to thrift stores.People tend to donate more clothes after buying new ones.

  69. Almarosa Vargas says

    I look for Clearance Deals and shop for clothes throughout the year, not necessarily right before school starts. :)

  70. Katie Diamond says

    I shop resale stores for all 3 of my children. I spend as much on all 3 children as most mom’s spend on 1 of theirs. The one thing they get new every year is a lunch box because in the long run we save money using that as well.

  71. Melissa VandenBerg says

    I try to go to whatever store has the best deal. Search for on-line codes or coupons. I will also shop a gently used clothing store to save money there

  72. says

    Clip coupons (you’d be surprised as how many clothing / supply stores have coupons), hit sales, try thrift stores for used backpacks, etc.

    Terri P
    pr4gatheringroses AT gmail DOT com

  73. Shawn says

    I try and watch for great sales all year long and stockpile what I need ahead of time.


  74. April V. says

    Don’t buy all at once. Get a minimum set of several outfits and add to it throughout the year when you find things on sale.

  75. kathy pease says

    i buy summer clothes at the end of summer and winter clothes at the end of winter and save them for the next season they are so cheap at the end of seasons

  76. Ginger H. says

    I keep my eyes peeled for sales and clearance items all the time, use coupons and go shopping on the tax-free back-to-school shopping days where I live!

  77. Geoff K says

    I hit the clearance aisles, try my luck at thrift stores and dollar stores, and when possible, I wait a week or two until after school when all the supplies and clothes are highly marked down!

  78. Mallory Roberts says

    I save money by using coupons on school supplies and matching those with sales. I even price-match at Wal-mart. I was able to score a ton of supplies pretty cheap last month. For clothes I’m always on the lookout for Kohl’s or JC Penney coupons. Thanks for the giveaway!

  79. melina r says

    I save money on BTS shopping by using sale prices with coupons and checking the clearance racks for school clothes

  80. Carolyn Daley says

    I save money by looking for coupons, sales, and deals. I have saved a lot of money on back to school books thanks to buying them used at half the cost by checking resources such as Amazon.com, Half.com, and Abebooks.com. I also clip coupons and look for the best match ups on other school essentials such as notebooks, binders, and pencils to help me get the most for my money.

  81. says

    By using coupons and always shopping for the very best deal! we also try to refurbish things we didn’t use last school year so we don’t have to rebuy.

  82. susan smoaks says

    I save money on back 2 school shopping by planning ahead and sticking to the list. I also price compare and shop at the stores with the best prices!

  83. Laurie Emerson says

    I save money by first going through old clothes which still fit and look good and then filling in the blanks. I also use my local thrift shop as it really saves me money.

  84. Lisa Fonseca says

    Use coupons whenever and wherever possible. Also compare all ads to see where the better deal is.

    lisando at hotmail.com

  85. Shannon says

    we try to stick to a list, make price comparisons for the best deals and buy things on sale and look at the clearance racks for really good deals

  86. Katharina says

    I save money with back to school shopping by buying separates that can be matched with a number of other pieces. I also shop at places like Kohls that have fast turnaround and great clearance sales.
    Katharina angelsandmusic[at]gmail[dot]com

  87. Tanya White says

    I have five children so When I see a great school item on sale throught out the year I buy it to save me money.

  88. sarah says

    I check the ads, use coupons, buy only what they need and try to reuse items that were in good shape from the previous school year.

  89. Carole I says

    I reuse school bags and lunch boxes from the year prior if I can…this year we had to buy new (and one lunch box already broke after just 2 days of school!!) .

  90. KIM CRAWFORD says


  91. Jessica A says

    I compare prices between store by looking at the different stores flyers. Also, I search the internet for deals.

  92. kelly nicholson says

    Leave a comment answering this question — how do you save money while shopping for Back To School?

    cheap is better..sorry kids

  93. Mary Cloud says

    I look for sales plus I always catch school uniforms when they got on clearance real cheap and buy bigger sizes for the next school year

    annabella @ centurytel dot net

  94. Roxann says

    For basic supplies I shop year round when I see a sale or clearance on something. I also use sales papers and coupons to get the best deals.

  95. Beverly M says

    I make out a list of needed & wanted items for back to school and try to purchase them when they are on sale during the summer months. Thanks for this contest!

  96. Veronica Garrett says

    I shop during our tax free days for back to school. Our state has days where no tax is charged on select back to school products.

  97. Christy Weller says

    We save money by using discount coupons. Sometimes we find better deals online. It just depends on the shipping costs and sale going on. Also the Clearance section in stores is a good place to look to save money also.


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