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Canadian Parents Do the Math: RBC Poll Shows Back-to-School Budgeting Pays Off

Half are sticking to budget as new school year approaches

TORONTO, August 30, 2011— With the new school year just around the corner, Canada's budget-conscious parents are keeping a lid on back-to-school spending so far, according to the 2011 RBC Parents Back-to-School Spending Poll.

More Canadian parents set a budget to manage back-to-school expenses this year compared to last (34 per cent versus 29 per cent respectively). Of those parents with a budget, 50 per cent report they are sticking to their spending plan so far; a further 42 per cent state that they are also within their budget at the moment, but they think that they'll end up overspending. Only eight per cent report that they have already spent a little more than they budgeted.

Almost two-thirds of parents expect to spend approximately the same amount as last year. Per household, parents estimate that their back-to-school expenses this year will average $500 on clothing, school supplies, electronics and shoes.

"Every year, parents face 'sticker shock' when they're getting their children ready for the new school year - purchasing all the items on that back-to-school list can quickly add up to one very large bill," said Maria Contreras, product manager, Savings Accounts. "If you look at this time of year much like planning for a family holiday, you can begin saving in January for school expenses coming up after the summer. Adding that savings element into your budget can be a big help in managing those yearly costs."

When asked which aspect of back-to-school shopping they found most difficult, parents responded their top challenges were:

  • "Paying for all the back-to-school shopping" (25 per cent)
  • "Finding all the items I need before they're sold out or unavailable" (21 per cent)
  • "Finding things my children will like" (16 per cent)
  • "Everything - I find everything to do with back-to-school shopping difficult or challenging" (11 per cent)

Nearly one-in-five parents (19 per cent) said that they have no challenges - they "love everything to do with back-to-school shopping".

"Certainly not every parent enjoys what can be a rather hectic shopping experience, especially this last week before school begins," added Contreras. "But it can also be turned into an opportunity to help teach younger children about the importance of saving money. You can have some fun by working through your back-to-school budget activities with them. For example, going through all those school supply flyers with your children as you add and subtract the costs can be a great learning opportunity and perhaps take away some of the stress."

For more ideas and resources to help you save and budget - including tools, tips and calculators - visit

About RBC's financial advice and interactive tools
RBC's myFinanceTracker, a new online financial management tool, offers all personal RBC online banking clients the ability, at no cost, to create a set budget and track their spending habits. Whether Canadians want to get more from their day to day banking, protect what's important, save and invest, borrow with confidence or take care of their businesses, the RBC Advice Centre can help answer their questions ( With the guidance of RBC advisors who are available to chat live, Canadians have access to free, no-obligation professional advice about RBC products and services and personalized one-on-one banking service.

About the 2011 RBC Parents Back-to-School Spending Poll
This survey was conducted via the Ipsos I-Say Online Panel, Ipsos Reid's national online panel. Data was collected from August 18 to 22, 2011 through online interviews (in English and in French) with a sample of 1,010 Canadian parents of school age children. Data were weighted to be representative of Canada by age, gender and region. The results are based on a sample where quota sampling and weighting are employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to Census data. Quota samples with weighting from the Ipsos online panel provide results that are intended to approximate a probability sample. An unweighted probability sample of 1010, with 100 per cent response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of ± 3 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error within subgroups of the sample will be higher.

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Media contacts:

Kathy Bevan, Corporate Communications, RBC,
(416) 974-2727
Kate Yurincich, Corporate Communications, RBC,
(416) 974-1031


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