Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

Back-to-school checklist: Whiter teeth & tattoos

mother_tattoo.gi.top.jpgA baby sports a 'Mother' tattoo like his dad's as he's carried through throngs of onlookers during the Mermaid Parade at Coney Island in New York. By Parija Kavilanz, senior writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Shopping for back-to-school "basics" used to mean T-shirts, jeans, socks and some notebooks. This year, parents added a few other things with one item that really stands out: tattoos.

About 45% of parents polled say that hair highlights, teeth whitening, even tattoos are among the items they will buy their kids to go back to school, according to a new American Express Spending & Saving Tracker survey.

The survey tracks parents' school-related spending intentions.

Haircuts led the list of services that mom and dad are treating junior to before the first day of school. But they are also willing to indulge their kids with a few extras.

According to the report, 18% of parents intended to buy teeth whitening services.

And 9% of parents were willing to pay for tattoos for their kids. On average, parents were spending about $70 on tattoos and teeth whitening, versus $40 on average for their kid's haircut.

Still, the survey found that teeth whitening and tattoos were lower down the list of grooming priorities.

"I think everyone found the teeth whitening and tattoo results very interesting," said Mona Hamouly, a spokeswoman for American Express. "The idea was to poll parent consumers on a mix of mundane and some outlandish things that they would buy their kids. We didn't expect tattoos to even rank in the list."

One catch: Hamouly said the tattoo question in the survey didn't specifically mention whether the tattoo would be temporary or permanent.

Regarding their total budget for school-related expenses, the survey showed that the average family of four will spend about $550 this year.

And 76% of parents said they would shop for items on sale or clearance as well as use coupons for additional savings.

Top purchases are T-shirts, jeans and shoes. One third of parents will also buy gadgets such as computers, cellphones, MP3 players and an iPad.

The online survey conducted in mid-July, polled more than 2,000 parents, including 500 households with children in grades K to 12. To top of page

Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,084.49 33.74 0.20%
Nasdaq 4,830.47 19.68 0.41%
S&P 500 2,014.89 1.46 0.07%
Treasuries 2.10 -0.01 -0.43%
Data as of 7:06am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Alcoa Inc 10.26 -0.75 -6.81%
Bank of America Corp... 15.58 -0.17 -1.08%
Apple Inc 112.12 2.62 2.39%
EMC Corp 27.86 0.68 2.50%
Freeport-McMoRan Inc... 13.49 0.03 0.22%
Data as of Oct 9


Michael Dell is on the verge of the biggest tech deal ever. But he needs to raise a ton of debt before the market's next freakout. More

Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer told CNN International anchor Richard Quest that concern's about China's slowdown is pushing back the Fed's decision to raise rates. More

Elon Musk recently called Apple a "Tesla graveyard" that hires all the employees he's fired. But now he says he doesn't hate Apple. More

Yes, the new chip-enabled credit cards are more safe than what used to be in our wallets. But they aren't bullet-proof against fraud. More