Personal Finance

Watch out for these big-ticket back-to-school buys

Back-to-school wallet busters

A Texas Instruments Inc. TI-84
Tim Boyle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

It's that time of year again.

Parents are gearing up for the back-to-school shopping rush, and the cost of supplies has risen.

This year, expect to spend $659 if your child is in elementary school, a 1.5 percent increase from 2015. Parents of middle schoolers can expect to shell out $957 per child, up 1.6 percent from last year.

For high school, expect to spend $1,498 per child — 6.8 percent more than last year, according to the Huntington Bank Backpack Index.

Which items are the most costly? Let's start off with the graphing calculator your child will likely need for geometry, trigonometry and advanced placement calculus: The TI-84 Plus is running at about $120, according to the index.

Keep an eye out for discounts. You can pick one up for $88 if you're a member of Amazon Prime.

— By CNBC's Darla Mercado
Posted 29 July 2016

College prep fees

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If your child is about to start his or her junior year of high school, then prepare to splurge on exams and test prep.

Including study books for the ACT and SAT, exam fees and costs related to advanced placement courses, the index estimates parents will spend $291 on college-prep materials this year. That's down by about $7 from last year.

There are opportunities to save. Coordinate with your child's high school to determine if he or she is eligible for a fee waiver on the SAT or ACT.

School band expenses

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Participation in the marching band may strike a sour note. The projected price for a rented instrument is $285 for one year, although that's down from $332 last year.

Some schools have added on band fees, reflecting additional cost sharing with families. That comes to about $80, according to the index.

If your child is committed to the clarinet, trombone or flute, consider browsing Amazon or Craigslist for affordable instruments. Your local music shop might also have some good bargains.

Sports expenses

Mike Powell | Getty Images

What if your child is an athlete? Schools have ratcheted up the cost of playing sports. This year, those fees are $195 per child for middle schoolers, up from $125 in 2015. That includes equipment and team uniforms.

High school students hoping to burnish their transcripts with extracurricular activities can expect to pay even more. Pay-to-play fees for athletes in multiple disciplines are now $375, up from $200 in the previous year, according to the index.

The increase in fees reflects schools' migration away from caps on sports participation expenses for children who partake in a variety of sports, according to Huntington.

Laptop computers

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Here's the biggest of big-ticket items: A laptop.

Sixty-five percent of parents expect to spend up to $500 on a laptop, according to data from deal and coupon site

MacBooks are the hot product for children using a laptop, as more than 25 percent of parents say that they're "the best" for children's school-related needs. Dell and HP, respectively, were deemed best by 20 percent and 19 percent of parents, according to

At least this is one item you (fingers crossed) can expect to use for multiple school seasons.