You Told Us: Is Back-to-School Season Taxing Your Budget?
1 of 5Monica Buck
Families Are Staying Close to Home
We asked: In order to save money this year, which family activity are you most likely to discontinue?
Parents seem to have no reservations about cutting restaurants out of the schedule: Fifty five percent say they’re content to eat at home. And though 30 percent of families are considering canceling full-fledged vacations, many are planning affordable getaways. “We have a tent and go camping at a nearby national park,” says one mom.
The MSN/Real Simple survey was conducted online in July 2009 with a random sample of 1025 men and women 18-plus who have children going back to school in the fall. All respondents are members of the Impulse Research proprietary online panel.
2 of 5James Baigrie
Kids Are Pitching In
We asked: When it comes to simplifying life during tough economic times, what would your kids be most willing to give up?
Note to Santa: The majority of parents surveyed―31 percent―believe their children would wear what’s in their closets instead of asking Mom to spring for trendy new clothing. A significant 29 percent think their kids would be willing to go without the latest electronic equipment such as video games and consoles. The item that youths seem least likely to hand over: their cell phones.
We asked: How likely are you to talk to your kids about allowance cuts until the economy gets back on its feet?
Fifty-six percent of parents say they are likely to initiate a conversation about a chore pay cut. The reduction may not come as a surprise to kids, since many parents are already using the recession to teach their brood about saving versus spending: fifty-four percent of parents say they are “not at all likely” or “not very likely” to shelter their children from their current household financial situation.
We asked: Are you likely to cut down on the grocery bill in order to allocate money to back-to-school shopping this year?
The funds for pencils, notebooks, and backpacks have to come from somewhere, so 53 percent of mothers say they will be more frugal at the food store and use their savings on supplies. Several parents have even created grocery store-saving games for the kids―among them, a competition to save the most money at the cash register and a race to see how many coupons the children can grab from in-store displays. Others have looked to their own backyards to stay within budget. Says one, “we started growing some of our own food together―tomatoes, lettuce, vegetables.”
We asked: While the troubled economy has certainly been challenging, what is the most positive effect it has had on your family?
Turns out, there has been a bright spot to the recession: 73 percent of people say they are simplifying their lifestyles and eating more meals at home. Parents report that they are enjoying movie and game nights with their kids as well as “eating healthier and spending more time doing outdoor activities―biking, walking.”