With the school year underway, it’s time to go back to the books and take a look at spending on back-to-school shopping. CivicScience asked 1,975 U.S. adults from September 11 to 14, 2018 about their back to school budget expectations, versus reality.

To study the back-to-school shoppers exclusively, those who responded “Does not apply” have been removed.  

61% of back-to-school shoppers indicated they spent precisely what they wanted to. U.S. adults are almost 2x more likely to say they spent more than they intended than spend less.

When it comes to staying within budget, it seems that the more a person shops online for back-to-school supplies, the harder it is to stay on budget. In an earlier study, CivicScience found that online back-to-school shoppers are more likely to give themselves a bigger budget than those who shop in a store.
Back to School By Age

There’s a pattern when it comes to age and staying within a back-to-school budget. The older a child, the more the budget goes out the window, to a certain point. A parent with a child between the ages of 12-17 years-old is most likely to stray from the budget. Parents with a child between the ages of 6-11 follow. Once a child reaches 18-22 years, spending drops dramatically–likely because the parent is no longer the one doing the shopping.
Overall, back-to-school shoppers find it hard to stay within their budget parameters, especially online shoppers and parents of tweens/teens. Given the social pressures to fit in with this age group, it’s unsurprising back-to-school budgets might be blown on the price of fitting in.