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Back-to-School Shoppers Need a Reality Check; Average Shopping Spree is $5,423

August 10, 2000 at 11:58 AM EDT

ROCKVILLE, Md., Aug. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Back-to-school shoppers will spend an average of $5,423 getting ready for the new school year, according to a survey by, a nonprofit financial solutions organization, and Capital One Financial Corporation, a financial services company.

"Back-to-school shoppers need a reality check. Most people don't plan to spend $5,000, but in reality they might," said Steve Rhode, president and co- founder of

"Back-to-school shopping is more than just pens and paper," Rhode added. "People need to be honest with themselves about the full range of expenses, including computers, clothing, transportation, sporting equipment and more."

In addition, back-to-school shoppers were asked if they would make any of their purchases this year via the Internet. Just over half (51.6 percent) of back-to-school shoppers said they will browse the Internet for information about products, while only one in four (25.5 percent) said they will make at least one purchase online.

According to Capital One, shopping online with a credit card is not only safe and convenient; it offers consumers tools for managing their back-to- school purchases. The Internet offers shoppers access to hundreds of sites, making comparison-shopping easier and faster than ever. In fact, Greenfield Online's Shopping Index VIII for the first quarter of 2000 reveals that 46 percent of all consumers find the lowest price for items online.

During the One survey, 1,002 people were asked about back-to-school purchases for themselves, members of their families and/or others. Their average spending for each of seven categories included:

    *     Electronics:  $591
          (Computers, printers, software, calculators, beepers, cell phones,
    *     Clothing:  $540
          (Coats, shoes, uniforms, backpacks, accessories, etc.)
    *     Fees:  $2,457
          (Application fees, tuition, health assessments, deposits, etc.)
    *     Sporting activities:  $392
          (Equipment, jerseys, sporting uniforms, coaching fees, etc.)
    *     Dorm room supplies:  $181
          (Bedding, towels, toiletries, refrigerators, cooking supplies, etc.)
    *     Desk supplies:  $142
          (Pens, pencils, notebooks, books, reference materials, etc.)
    *     Transportation:  $1,610
          (Air, bus and rail travel, car purchase, subway passes, etc.)
    *     Total for back-to-school:  $5,423
          (The average of all responses.)

"On the Web or in person, don't let back-to-school expenses sneak up on you," cautioned Rhode. "Too many people will go shopping without thinking of the total cost. Using a credit card will add convenience and security to the transaction, but people need to be prepared to pay off the bill in a reasonable amount of time or the debts will become unmanageable."

For example, if a shopper puts $5,423 in school purchases on a credit card with a typical interest rate of 17.99 percent and pays only the minimum each month, it will take 48 years to pay off the debt. Paying just the minimum over that amount of time quadruples the debt to a total of $20,843.

"There's a big and very clear lesson here, pay more than just the minimum payment every month," Rhode urged. "If you get a raise or find a little extra money in your pocket, apply it to your debt." is holding a contest to find the thriftiest back-to-school

shopper. Send money-saving ideas to: or Back-to-School Contest, P.O. Box 8587, Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8587. Entries will be accepted until Sept. 8. Winners will be announced Sept. 20 and will receive a $100 American Express Gift Cheque, along with gift packs from and Capital One. For more information, visit The survey was conducted between July 21 and 23. Additional results include:

    *     Sixty percent of American adults will make at least one back-to-
          school purchase this year, 20 percent will shop for themselves, 40
          percent for their child or children and 30 percent for another
          student in their life.  (The numbers don't add up to 100 percent
          because some people answered yes to more than one category.)
    *     The percentage of online buyers for each category includes,
          electronics -- 22 percent; dorm room supplies -- 16 percent;
          clothing -- 14 percent; sporting goods -- 14 percent; desk supplies
          -- 11 percent; transportation -- 10 percent; fees -- 9 percent.
    *     In all categories but electronics, men were more likely to make an
          online purchase.
    *     The percentage of online browsers (will look but not buy) for each
          category includes, electronics -- 29 percent; clothing -- 23
          percent; sporting goods -- 20 percent; desk supplies -- 19 percent;
          transportation -- 18 percent; fees -- 15 percent. is a national, nonprofit financial solutions organization headquartered in Rockville, Md. Founded in 1994, has helped more than four million people through its programs and educational resources. The organization is committed to helping people resolve past financial mistakes, manage current financial responsibilities and find financial peace of mind.'s programs and services include debt management, crisis resolution, online bill management, creditor problem resolution, coaching and Financial Recovery Counseling. Prior to April 2000, was known as Debt Counselors of America(R).

Headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, Capital One Financial Corporation (NYSE: COF) is a financial services company whose principal subsidiaries, Capital One Bank and Capital One, F.S.B., offer consumer lending products. SOURCE Capital One Financial Corporation;

CONTACT: Nancy Ness Judy of, 301-762-5270, ext. 124/