Paying for private school

Tips and tricks for sending your child to private school

Shouldn’t all children be educated to their potential, even if it is not ‘success’  by conventional  standards?

Occasionally, when other parents find we send our child to private school, they discuss their thought process for their own children.

For the few that consider private school as a possible path, a recurring theme is that they will wait to see if the child has potential to justify the expenses.

Old School House Sign - Source: Wiki Commons

Old School House Sign – Source: Wiki Commons

And I get that one wouldn’t want to waste money but I struggle with their wait-and-see viewpoint.

Shouldn’t all children be educated to their potential, even if it is not ‘success’  by conventional  standards? Indeed, isn’t a struggling child the ideal case for a private education and most likely to see beneft?

If you can’t afford it, no problem and no guilt as we have great public schools. But for those of you can afford it and are interested, don’t wait and see. Move now to develop that potential and make it inevitable.

Tell your children they are a more worthwhile investment and more important than a supersized house.

Villa Haas Mansion - Source: Wiki Commons

Villa Haas Mansion – Source: Wiki Commons

My experience in private school

I was lucky enough to attend a private parochial school and then a private high school. For college I went off to a state school. The differences were stark.

Service as a framework

Specifically, the private school saw education as a tool to be used to serve a greater purpose. The additional knowledge, skills and understanding would be of use to understand oneself, the natural and physical world, abstract concepts and cultural and organizational behaviors.  The stated goal was learn as much as possible to save the world, not to collect a paycheck. It is not about being the best – it is about being that best you can be.

Graz Reading Room by Dr. Marcus Gossler - Wiki Commons

Graz Reading Room by Dr. Marcus Gossler –
Wiki Commons

This in turn is set in a rigorous spiritual framework to determine how to use this knowledge. Countless examples from history and present day are highlighted as role models. Year after year the greater purpose of service to family, country and the undeserved is stated and then put into practice.

My experience in a public college was confusing. It was just about the technical skill with dabbling in other technical domains. The spiritual framework was not only no longer present, it was actively ridiculed.

When I graduated from my under graduate program I thought I had learned so much more in my private school. I still think that is true.

While I was in private school, I found the extra rigor difficult, stressful and burdensome. I didn’t question its value but it is a lot to take in.

Now, years, later, in the work place I am so grateful for it. I am no saint by any measure but I am stunned by coworkers who struggle with basic concepts of morality. Their own behaviors cause them isolation. They know something isn’t right but can’t quite place their finger on it. And a one week how-to work-with-others techniques won’t fix it. Lessons on empathy, love, altruism, sacrifice, the equal worth of all and countless other lessons can’t be learned in a week. They must be seen, modeled and experienced over years.

The Basics

One example I see regularly is that of truthfulness. One view of truthfulness is that it is a way of showing respect to all, an expression of love and trust, a higher principal to strive for and a representation of your own morale standing. Another view is that it’s something that I should do because it’s good and I might get in trouble if I don’t tell the truth.

In the first framework the person comes from a position of truthfulness as a way of helping others. Of being fair. The second framework builds it as a rule that must be followed.

At work this first framework results in a person having unquestioned integrity and will lay out the facts and can be trusted with critical projects. The second framework results in a person who will also tell the truth but might leave out key facts to avoid trouble. They don’t lie but you often have to follow up to find the “full story”.

I feel so bad for them. And I feel that I have an unfair advantage at work. It shows up as a higher paycheck as well – but, as you have gathered by now, that isn’t the point of it all.

US Currency - Source Wiki Commons

US Currency – Source Wiki Commons

 

The first person values their own moral compass more than a specific job or company. They can be trusted when no one is looking. The second person is pretty trust worthy – most of the time.

And they can be entrusted to run large organizations where reputation and integrity are paramount (which is most of them).

Private and public schools both produce but types of people. There is no monopoly on morality. But the odds are so much more in your favor in a private school that focuses on doing things the right way in addition to doing the right things.

Consider the stated mission of a few private schools in my area compared to the public schools (both the private and public schools are excellent so there isn’t a problem with either).

Private School Missions Public School Missions
Excel, Love Serve
  • Promote the development of the whole person
  • Challenge and encourage critical thinking skills

Equip each student with the academic and social tools necessary for success as college students and ultimately adults

Service, Simplicity, Equality, Honesty
  • Focus on teaching & learning
  • Have High expectations
  • Engage students in a positive learning environment
  • Student progress measured by data

 

  • Academic and personal excellence, Social, emotional, and physical well-being,
  • Respect for self, others, and the environment
  • Collaboration and teamwork

 

  • Provide every student a quality education that will give them the opportunity to go to college/career ready

 

The Point? Mission Matters

Some  of the private organizations are religious and some are not but realize their entire program and curriculum is based on their missions.

Some folks prefer the focus of the public school missions. Others prefer the variety available with private schools. You must decide what is best for your children. And it is a very simple question. Fast forward 40 years. Which of these school frameworks do you hope your child internalized in their formative years?

Tips and tricks – the paying for private school links page

We aren’t the only voice out there discussing the details of how to pay for private school. Here are some great reads to help you consider the options and the trade offs:

Broad Brush Tips

Real Life Inspiring Stories

Frank discussion of the trade offs

 

Options Analysis

Have a link that you think will help parents and students? Post a comment so we can include it!

Free your mind

Wait, are you saying I just need to  do things differently, do some basic stuff for yourself  and avoid some junk and then I can send my kids to private school, retire early or donate stacks of cash to worthy causes?

That is right.

Why isn’t everyone doing this? Isn’t it going to be hard? I mean, after all if it was easy everyone would be doing this sort of thing, right?

Theory of the mind (or mind control for beginners)

There is an answer to these questions and it is called theory of the mind. This super power like ability enables you to mirror the experiences of someone else simply by watching them or hearing their story.

And throughout history this has been very useful. You can watch someone knit a few times and start to mimic them. Or you can hear a vivid story of an adventure over the hills and forever remember to avoid the cove of three trees. It’s like you are there – because, in your mind, you are there!

Fantasy Island

This also makes entertainment, well, so entertaining. You can follow your favorite team all season and when they win the championship you will share in their jubilee and say “we” won even though the team doesn’t know you exist. Or you

can escape into a fantasy land where you easily relate to and experience emotions of the hero Hobbit. And there are often valuable morale lessons in these fictional tales and they can provide much needed perspective but it comes with a steep price.

It’s Fake (News)

And, it is worth noting, it is all fake. You aren’t doing any of it. Sure, going on a wild adventure in a movie or book is a wonderful experience. But it is fake. And doing the dull but profitable job of keeping accurate records is downright boring in comparison.

 

The matrix is an illusory world

The way to fix this is to free your brain up. Specifically, force yourself to turn off the video and close the book. Sit still.  Wait a bit until you get bored. Then, think about what tiny super easy thing you can do that can improves your situation. Then do it. Repeat.

Stop watching fictional people live out their fictional lives while yours slips away. Go for a walk in your boring old neighborhood. A real walk.

G Ruga Coral Maple Tree Photo

Coral Maple Tree

As you step outside and see the soft glow of the people watching their programmed lives you will soon realize you have almost no competition, few are interested in easy, unexciting, but highly profitable tasks. You have already won by simply unplugging. Everyone is busy consuming visual symbols to stimulate their brains electrical impulses.

Now you know better.

Welcome to the real world. Let’s get to work.

Hard work and self-restraint

Paying for a private school is really challenging. And while there are many mental frameworks that help one in particular is required as the basis for the rest; industry and frugality. That is a fancy phrase for the combination of hard work and self-restraint.

This is not a new concept. Benjamin Franklin wrote the following Advice to a Young Tradesman on July 21st, 1748;

“It depends chiefly on two Words, Industry and Frugality; i.e. Waste neither Time nor Money, but make the best Use of both.”4

I urge you to read the full text. What isn’t often stated is how satisfying it is to get stuff done. Checking stuff off the list! Saving tens and sometimes hundreds of dollars in the process! And redirecting those dollars to someone else’s benefit.  “Work is love made visible“. ― Kahlil Gibran

It is ok to not be the best

I am probably the least handy person on the planet. To pay the tuition we regularly apply both industry and frugality.  It started with raking the leaves instead of paying someone to do it. And, slowly, ever so slowly, and with the help of lots of YouTube videos, we added more stuff to the we-do-that list. Last year, I carefully replaced the bathroom faucet. And someone heard I was doing the work myself.

caption2

By JanekpfeiferOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

They were quite impressed. My chest puffed out a little further (for about a minute) and it occurred to me it is kind of fun being able to get stuff done. It is even more fun to understand how something was installed so when a problem invariable occurs you can usually understand what is going on and when to call for help – and when to simply tighten a bolt.

There is dignity in work

It is very easy to be a consumer. To wait in lines for stuff and services. To pay for private school (or home school) you are going to have to change you mindset from consumer to producer. It is quite satisfying. I have repeatedly noticed that the few wealthy people I know tend to like to do stuff themselves. It is not for the money. There is dignity in work. Do stuff yourself, however small, instead of standing around watching others do it for you. It’s a lot more fun (well, when you are done) even if you have to do the same job three times in a row to get it right.

Read the Money Mustache article introducing and explaining the Consumer Habit Loop versus The Mustachian Habit Loop. And then read it again. It will take a while to sink in but it a key framework in enabling you to pay for your children education while simultaneously enjoying a more satisfying life.

Roll up your sleeves. Get your hands dirty*.

You can do this.

 

 

*Not really. I go through about 100 Raven Nitrile Power Free Gloves every six months. They enable me to do jobs that normally I would resist from the gross factor alone (this includes all cleaning, car and plumbing work).

 

 

What your child needs and how it connects to education

In the early 1940’s Abraham Maslow published an article entitled A Theory of Human Motivation in n Psychological Review magazine. There he described a hierarchy of needs which include physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualization. They are a hierarchy because if you don’t have the basics of reliable food sources and safety (the base) in place that will be your focus until they are in an acceptable state.

Balance

It is the highest level, the self-actualization part (morality, creativity, spontaneity, problem solving, critical thinking), where private school can help out. During my own private education I certainly didn’t appreciate the time we spent on faith, spiritual development and intentional creativity.

Don’t over specialize

Later in life I was stunned to meet colleagues who have excellent technical depth in their chosen field but limited development in other areas. Many of them suffer from uncertainly, lack of trust and a feeling of being trapped.

At one work place the lack of civility and empathy became so severe that training was required for all employees. The training has clear guidance on things like “talk straight”.

Think about that for a minute. Talk straight is a nice way of saying “do not lie”. Many of my colleagues struggled to master these new skills and often revert back to old patterns. How horrible it must be to go through life to not be trusted and to know you are not trust worthy. That self-actualization need will be is a very tough rung to reach for some of my colleagues who are their core are good people.

Compass Source, Romary, Wiki Commons

Compass Source, Romary, Wiki Commons

It dawned on me that my 12 years of theology, day after day, week after week, year after year, ever so slowly, gave me a firm foundation. Private schools have the freedom to teach a value system that matches your own.

It’s not about the academics

I have said it before here but I want to re-iterate to those of you considering private school for your child but didn’t attend one yourself; it is not about the academics. Focus on who your child becomes, not the facts and skills they know. Give them that firm foundation.  My child has been at his private school for almost 10 years. I still don’t know the schools relative academic standing to other private schools or the nearby public schools. The academics simply has to be good enough in my opinion.

 

 

 

 

 

Sending your kid to private school will save you $1,053,000

Time Magazine reports that private school can save you money by giving you home location flexibility. This in turn can save you $50,000. They are right! Indeed, you can save even *more* money if you take the right steps after moving in.

Small is Beautiful

We live in an OK but not great public school district.  As is typically the case for such school districts, the homes are older and smaller.  Our smaller home costs less to heat and cool. And it costs a lot less to repair. There are less materials needed and they often cost less to replace. Don’t be scared into buying  or renting a brand new place to avoid costs – over time the smaller home will come out way ahead in many ways.

As one of many examples, our current roof cost $3000 to replace back in 2010. For larger homes a roof replacement can be $8,000   to replace with just basic materials. And larger homes are often fancier requiring you to get better materials to fit in. And this leads to the next benefit – keep up with the neighborhood expectations.

Less Pressure To Spend

Keeping up with the Jones is a lot different in our neighborhood. Folks are lot more down to earth. Literally. Hiring a lawn service is considered either 1) a mark of shame or 2) you must be ill and we should step in to help.

People who move here and hire a lawn service seem to eventually shift to mowing it themselves. Every Saturday morning they see countless examples of how do get it done. And the entire street is a tool sharing enterprise. Having auto mechanics and DYI folks as neighbors really helps as well. A a lower cost neighborhood is lower cost on many levels and with more down-home kind of folks we prefer.

The Up Side – More Earnings

And private school raises the odds of your kiddo going to college. You will be used to saving lots of money and shelling out tuition expenses anyway so you are more likely to be set up to pay for it. And that equates to a million an extra income over their career (typically). Start to think across the generations and it starts to get impressive.

And while money isn’t the main driver for a private school it is worth noting that you save a lot more than $53,000 when moving to a lower cost neighborhood and paying for private school.

And lower costs houses are smaller, older and closer to area of employment. Your car costs will go down and with that shorter commute you will be more rested and eventually promoted.

You will save $53,000 on housing expenses and realize $1 million in extra income for each child. That is not a bad deal for providing your children an education that matches your values.

 

How to save $500 in twenty minutes

 

Our storm door locking mechanism failed. People locked in – and out. A new door is $300 and installation presumably more.

Don’t but your way out of a problem

My instinct was to purchase a new door. Instead I went over to StormDoorGuy.com and watched his awesome video.

 

Frugality is environmentalism dressed up in overalls

The offending locked was removed and I am off to replace it.  Instead of an entire storm door going to the dump the only the handle will be replaced.

$500 saved in 20 minutes. Thanks Storm Door Guy!

The truth exposed

The truth about how to pay for private school isn’t very exciting. While good income, low costs, careful spending and regularly saying no to a myriad of worthy spending choices are important they aren’t “it”.

Voluntary Self-Sacrifice

Instead, they are signs of an underlying philosophy that is rare these days but common throughout history. And that is self-sacrifice.  In short, this is giving up something worthwhile for you so someone else can have something even more worthwhile.

This framework may seem familiar to you as it the basis or morality of most religions.

US Currency - Source Wiki Commons

US Currency – Source Wiki Commons

This beautiful concept has a stark reality. Rare vacations. Older cars and furniture. A higher thermostat in summer. A delayed retirement. Smaller living quarters.  On paper this sounds good but the reality is a bit different. For example, my old Subaru leaked gas fumes in the car when the temperatures dropped by 30 degrees (a clip as contracting too far). While not overwhelming it did result in the windows down in January and February.  Freezing winds, icy rain and strange looks penetrating even the fuzziest of ear muffs.*

Voluntary self-sacrifice is how family of limited means pays for private school.

This can make you all stronger

Madeyski Suffering -Source: Wiki Commons

Madeyski Suffering -Source: Wiki Commons

As an extra benefit, these hardships are part of the education process. They build toughness, humility, empathy, resilience and demonstrate to all the ability to focus as a family on higher goals. They teach you to be resourceful and solve difficult problems without simply purchasing your way out of every discomfort. It helps prevent a family with extra resources spoiling their child. By definition they will have less materials goods, entertainment and goods as a result.

A better quality of life

You will invariably become an environmentalist as well as produce more and consume less. You will make mistakes, adjust and move on. It might not work. But you will take the leap. Some will praise you but most will criticize you. Be ok with people being upset with you because they think you are wasting money or choice is seen as undermining the public school system. It is ok not to have every one agree with you. Indeed, it is desirable.

.* The Subaru was eventually replaced by a 10 year old Volvo station wagon – a low cost way to get a top IIHS safety rating on the cheap. The second week I had it the passenger window fell into the well. Forever open. Instead of rushing to the dealer I checked the weather (no rain for a week!) and after a lot of research and $19 later the window opens and closes again.  It’s not perfect, but it works.

Volvo Wagon - New to us!

Used Volvo Wagon – New to us!

 

 

Should I get a loan?

No, you should not get a loan to pay for private school elementary or high school.

A loan means you don’t have the money

A loan means you don’t have enough money to pay for the school. A loan means you would spend more than you have, every month. That is not sustainable for the long haul of tuition for private school which can go on for decades.

Debt has specific uses

caption2

By Sander van der Wel from Netherlands – Depressed, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Debt is appropriate for a business venture where you can reasonably expect to recoup it and then some – such as a highly employable four year college degree or a medical emergency. Or for a house where the deductible interest usually (depending on interest rates) makes the loan cost less than paying cash outright.

Everything else is a pants on fire debt emergency. Don’t add to it.

Here are your options

  • Cut expenses
  • Increase income
  • Choose a lower cost school
  • Choose a public school

What!

Public school?

Yup, public school is an excellent option. Seriously consider it. It is ok to not go to private school. It is not ok to destroy your family life and health in the pursuit of this singular goal.

Confront reality, and then adjust

Confront reality, whatever that may be – don’t put yourself in bondage and mortgage your future time just because you wished things were different.

Instead, you can send your kids to public school and pick up a  tutors and religious education on the side to augment the education. That is an acceptable and perfectly fine version of private education. So is home schooling. Remember the goal: an education for your child that results in a balanced, centered, inquisitive and knowledgeable adult with an internal morale compass. There are lots of paths to get to the end result without selling your future on this  one way of achieving your goals.

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