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Capital One's Annual Back-to-School Shopping Survey Reveals Gap in
Budgeting Priorities and Communication Between Teens, Parents

August 5, 2010 at 8:05 AM EDT
Survey Shows Many Parents Miss Key Opportunity to Teach Teens Money Management Skills

MCLEAN, Va., Aug 05, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) --

This back-to-school shopping season, many teenagers have their eyes set on big-ticket items like e-readers, computers and smart phones, but parents footing the shopping bill plan to stick to the basics such as clothes and traditional supplies, according to a new survey from Capital One Financial Corporation (NYSE:COF). In the company's tenth annual back-to-school shopping survey of parents and their teens between the ages of 13-17, one-quarter (25 percent) of teens listed a cell or smart phone, computer or an electronic device such as an iPod or e-reader as one of three top items they plan to purchase before heading back to school this year. Only 14 percent of parents surveyed, however, listed one of these items as a top purchase for back-to-school.

Capital One's survey also found that only one-quarter (24 percent) of parents have created a back-to-school shopping budget with their child and only one-third (31 percent) of parents have created a shopping list with their child. One-quarter (27 percent) of parents admit they have not had any conversations with their child about planning for back-to-school shopping.

"This year's survey found several gaps in budget expectations and communication between parents and teens regarding back-to-school shopping plans," said Shelley Solheim, Director of Financial Education at Capital One. "Back-to-school shopping season is often overlooked as a financial education opportunity, but it's an optimal time for parents to teach teens about budgets and smart spending in a real-world situation."

Teens are Looking for Money Guidance

Half (53 percent) of teens polled say they want to learn more about how to manage their money. More teens say they would prefer to learn about money from their parents over friends, reading a book or taking a personal finance class, but only 27 percent of teens report that their parents discuss money and banking concepts with them regularly.

Overall, teens report limited practical experience managing money. Less than half (46 percent) of teens surveyed currently receive an allowance and only one-third (33 percent) have a checking account. The survey results suggest that having a checking account is associated with higher levels of confidence among teens regarding their money management knowledge. Seventy percent of teens surveyed who currently have a checking account rate their money management knowledge as "good" or "very good," compared to 58 percent of teens without a checking account. Although many teens may not be ready for a checking account, parents can allow teens to watch them balance the checkbook and pay bills in order to get familiar with the practicalities of basic banking.

Teaching Teens to Shop Smart

To help parents and young adults effectively talk about financial choices, challenges and dreams, Capital One has partnered with the Search Institute to create Bank It, a free multimedia financial literacy program available online at The program is designed to help parents and teens work together to learn practical skills for making positive money choices and avoiding common mistakes.

In addition, Capital One offers the following tips to help parents take advantage of back-to-school shopping season to teach their teens good money management skills:

  • Make back-to-school shopping a family affair - It's a great opportunity for teens to learn valuable hands-on lessons from their parents.
  • Do your homework - Talk to teachers in advance and try to get a list of required school supplies so you can buy in advance (maybe even on sale.)
  • Crunch numbers together - establish a budget - Determine how much you're able to spend in advance and stick to the amount.
  • Consider having your child contribute - Our survey suggests that many teens are prepared to help pay for back-to-school shopping. Half (52 percent) of teens report that they expect to contribute money for back-to-school shopping, but only 19 percent of parents surveyed expect their child to help pay. Discuss how much they may contribute and work it into the budget you develop.
  • Make a list - Prepare your shopping list in advance. Try to distinguish between "needs" and "wants" on the list and prioritize the needs first.
  • Shop smart - Make sure you shop around for the best price and the best quality and use coupons when possible. Even if you don't plan to shop online, encourage your teen to look at prices online to see how they fit with the budget before you head to the store.

Survey Methodology

For the Capital One Study Back-to-School study, Braun Research was engaged to conduct 1,000 interviews in 500 households with 500 parents of teenagers age 13 to 17 and 500 teenagers age 13 to 17 across the United States. Surveys were conducted by telephone from July 11th through July 18th, 2010. The margin of error for the interview is plus or minus 3.34 percentage points. Interviews were monitored at random.

Sampling for this study was conducted across the United States using a national probability sample of all exchanges and area codes of households with someone between the ages of 13-17 living there. All interviews were conducted using a computer assisted telephone interviewing system. Statistical weights were designed from United States Census Bureau statistics.

About Capital One

Capital One Financial Corporation ( is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A. and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., had $117.3 billion in deposits and $197.5 billion in total assets outstanding as of June 30, 2010. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients. Capital One, N.A. has approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 100 index.

SOURCE: Capital One Financial Corporation

Capital One
Shelley Solheim, 804-284-9366