Paying for private school

Tips and tricks for sending your child to private school

Tag: frugality (page 1 of 2)

A simple approach to the holidays

There is constant pressure to buy lots and lots of gifts to wow the children with great big piles of loot. But there are limits to available resources.

How about this time tested approach instead? Consider just 4 items for each child for the holidays.

  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read

Give them the benefits of a frugal Christmas. This in turn may allow for higher quality items to be purchased while creating less waste.

Expect complaints. And comparisons to what other kids received. Be ok with that. Instead give your kids a great education and the tools, later in life, to buy stacks of material goods if they so choose.

A Financial Super Power You Can Use: The Snowball Effect

Paying for private school is a challenge but there is a secret super power available to you to help called the snow ball effect. The idea is that small changes start to build upon each other,  much like a rolling snowball,  to have an out sized total result in a surprisingly short amount of time. Usually this is associated with compound interest over many decades enabling a comfortable retirement.

However, unlike early retirees who strive to benefit from decades of compound interest we don’t have the luxury of waiting. We need the money right now! I first read about the more near term concept in the Tightwad Gazette and recommend you get a copy (from the library, of course) if you haven’t read it.

The Snowball Effect In Practice

Earlier I spoke of the power of moving to a decent, but not the best, school district as a savings enhancer. A small house, with its smaller mortgage or rent has other financial benefits – lower utilities being one of them. And this includes the peer pressure effect of self-reliance in the blue collar neighborhoods you will now likely reside. Wastefulness is correctly seen as a source of shame and embarrassment.

Small Differences Add Up Over Time

In such a neighborhood you feel pressured to do simple chores (like raking the leaves) yourself. This social pressure changes your outlook in a most valuable way and is the true turbo boost benefit from a smaller house in a decent, but not the best, school district.

An Example

Here is a real life financial snow ball example.

When we moved here the 30 year old home did not have cable. It *never* had cable. Ever. To get it installed would have meant drilling, installing and all sorts of mysterious things. So we skipped it and learned most folks on the street do the same. Fast forward ten years. That one decision to avoid a $120 a month extra expensive saved us many hours of time, protected us from adds to purchase stuff we don’t even know about and netted $14,4000*, tax free.

Our house comes with a free car every ten years.

All because the home wasn’t wired for cable and folks around here simply don’t do that sort of thing.

Now Roll It!

Later, we sold an old Subaru for $4000 and replaces it with a used station wagon for $12,000. I couldn’t help but notice the net cost of the car ($8000) was more than covered by the cable savings.

The savings on cable ($14,000) paid for the used car.  The used  the car was $45,000 new so that saved us  and additional $33,000.  Those very simple moves added up to a lot of savings we would have otherwise spent which went towards tuition expenses.

With some of those savings we paid the tuition and we bought a coffee machine which saves another $1000 a year.

In ten years we $12,000 saved on cable. We used those savings to pay for a gently used car and saved another $33,000. Those savings then funded a coffee machine which saves us another $10,000 over ten years. That is $55,000 in savings with three simple and repeatable steps that take less time and effort than the alternate steps. No need to tune into the latest shows (we can’t), nor to get our used car detailed (why would we do that) or drive to the coffee shop (we have it here).

What About The Extra Time

The savings go to the tuition payments. The extra time? We spend it leisurely looking for additional clever things to do .

Once you start a snowball it is a lot of fun to keep rolling the sucker.

 

What To Look For To Start Your Own Financial Snowball

Look for neighborhoods where folks are sweeping their own sidewalks, mowing their own lawns and washing their own cars. That is the correct place to live. Or starting living the way now – you don’t even have to move.

Are you sure you can’t afford private school? Reconsider the power of the financial snow ball.

Enormous snowball made in South Park in a snow-covered Oxford by Kamyar Adl

Enormous snowball made in South Park in a snow-covered Oxford By Kamyar AdlFlickr, CC BY 2.0, Link

* We have been here 11 years so total saving is actually $15,840 on the cable, a few thousand on items we never bought and a few thousand more for productive things we did with all that free time that we didn’t have to pay for. So it is more like $25,000 in savings but for this exercise you get the point. You can do this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The power of a cold shower

Paying for private school requires change from within.

The costs might require taking a promotion that is both good for your organization and good for your family but not in your comfort zone.

Or, it might involve forgoing a worthwhile and generally enjoyable vacation, or upgrading the coffee maker. Or, in a peaceful way, it might involve saying no to a lot of things.

Voluntary Discomfort As Mind Training

In short, it requires you to be proficient at voluntary discomfort. This requires you to be prepared to act with integrity in the moment. And training is what prepares you.

Enter the cold shower. I know, it sounds crazy but bear with me.

This technique is quick, low cost, effective and good for you and the environment.  And it makes you

caption2

By Miguel AndradeOwn work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

appreciate the simpler things such as,  oh I don’t know,  room temperature air and, well, not being in a cold shower. This last part, while amusing at first, is where the power of it comes in as it changes your mind set. You build patience and tolerance to discomfort. A brief cold blast of water puts a tough meeting later in the day in perspective and makes it easier.

 

Instructions:

  1. Start with your shower at the normal temperature.
  2. After a minute or two turn it down just a little.
  3. Repeat until you get to cool and slightly uncomfortable
  4. Adjust the water temperature to make it colder still and end the show with a cold blast of water for a few seconds.
  5. Mind training complete.

Your voluntarily discomfort practice will enable you to focus your mental powers on what is important. Soon enough you will scoff at ‘pampering yourself’, ‘indulging’ or ‘you deserve the very best’ advertisements and correctly see them as a form of weakness.

You need the clarity of mind to shake that stuff off and decide if paying for private school is appropriate for your family and then the mental toughness to stick to it.  A cold shower regimen can help tap the power of voluntary discomfort training for any worthwhile endeavor that requires focus over time.

This is Not New and Can Make You Healthier

And this is not a new form of training. Thomas Jefferson bathed his feet in cold water every morning for 50 years (they didn’t have showers).

As an added bonus it *actually* makes you healthier and tougher by increasing brown fat cells (little space heaters in your body).   It might even help you stay healthier longer –  read this  2015 interview with Ed Ronthalier who started the practice in 1918.

 

 

 

Do you want a $20,000 raise? Learn to use your kitchen table as a financial power tool.

My table saves us money. You can have one too. Chairs are optional but encouraged.

Here is how you use a table to save money; if you eat out at a restaurant get it to go and eat at the table you have at home. That will save you 15-20% on the tip. Ideally you should eat at home most of the time but if you don’t this simple technique saves time and money.

Paying for Private School French Country Kitchen

Paying for Private School French Country Kitchen

Tips add up

Let’s take a look at the numbers. Assume you tip 20% and eat out as a family, three times a week for a total expense of $150 a week. 20% of that cost – or $30 dollars – is spent on the tip. Skip that and in a month you will save $120 while eating the exact same food. In a year that is $1,440 not spent. And you don’t have to wait for the check.

In ten years you will have saved $14,440 in expenses which would have cost over $20,000 in income before taxes to pay for during that time. All that from  thinking differently about your kitchen table.

Keep at it!

Keep reading to collect ten of these money saving techniques and suddenly paying for private school might not seem as daunting.

Public school teacher sends child to private school

A public school teacher  wrote an article for The Atlantic on Why I’m a Public-School Teacher but a Private-School Parent

Public school teacher perspective

This was written by person who has 40 years experience working within the system;

“ …I’m not trying to be combative, but I do find it ironic that many people who argue against private schools work in the private sector. For 20 years, I have deliberately invested my life in teaching public-school kids, coaching them, and advocating for the ones who don’t have the same support that other kids have. In fact, I chose to teach in a public high school precisely because I pitied the children who felt forced to be at school, who felt trapped like I did when I was their age. I spend my own time and money advising clubs, tutoring those who struggle with English, helping students apply for college, and, sometimes, feeding kids who aren’t sure if they’re going to have dinner. On a daily basis, even as I’m surrounded by a million competing interests and distractions, I work hard to make their compulsory experience something for which they would volunteer….I am, however, concerned about the general culture at public schools—at least at the ones I’ve seen—of disengagement and compulsory learning. So when it comes to my daughter, I opt to invest a little more—to ensure she’s immersed in a community where it’s acceptable, and even admirable, to show natural enthusiasm for knowledge. I trust this particular private school, one that was created by like-minded parents, will best set her up for success.”[1]

Old School House Sign - Source: Wiki Commons

Old School House Sign – Source: Wiki Commons

Choose what makes sense for your family

The point here is not to bash on public schools. It is about choice. Choosing to send your child to a school that matches your value system. This may be a public school. And it may be a private school. And there is nothing wrong with either choice despite what others may tell you.

[1] http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/03/why-im-a-public-school-teacher-but-a-private-school-parent/386797/

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).

 

 

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!

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.

Half priced cars ! On sale now! And every day!

An introduction to mispricing

Use the economic concept of mispricing.  to reduce your costs and free up more money for tuition.

Mispricing occurs where sellers out number interested buyers for a particular item and where the item is able to be repriced lower based on that demand imbalance.

The example usually comes up in relation to financial assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate and so on but applies to consumables as well.

An Example: Mispricing in the stock market

Charlie Munger executed this perfectly in the 2009 financial panic as described in an article in Bloomberg News.

“By diving into stocks amid the market panic of 2009, Munger reaped millions in paper profits for Daily Journal. The investment gains, applauded by Buffett at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting in May, have helped triple Daily Journal’s own share price. While Munger’s specific picks remain a mystery, a bet on Wells Fargo probably fueled the gains, according to shareholders who have heard Munger, 89, discuss the investments at the company’s annual meetings. “Here’s a guy who’s in his mid-80s at the time, sitting around with cash at the Daily Journal for a decade, and all of a sudden hits the bottom perfect,” says Steve Check, an investment manager based in Costa Mesa, Calif., who has attended the publisher’s meetings since 2004.

The stock market profits were first disclosed in a May 2009 Daily Journal regulatory filing under the heading, “Liquidity and Capital Resources.” The section outlined how the publisher was sitting on about $9 million in gains after spending $15.5 million buying common shares over six months through March 31 of that year. The results kept getting better. By the end of September 2009, they had appreciated to almost $48 million.

[1]

The five steps to benefit from mispricing

To execute a mispricing purchase you first must recognize one and then be able to act on it. This requires a number of elements to be in play at the same time:

  1. Patience
  2. Cash
  3. Analysis
  4. Flexibility
  5. Willingness to purchase an unpopular item in scale

We use the mispricing approach for our own benefit on vehicle purchases.

Early on we were striving to get the “best” instead of “good enough”.

Flexibility

So we went with a popular vehicle at the time, a Toyota 4runner. These were popular and expensive and we used the only mispricing technique we knew about at the time which was flexibility. We purchased a new 4Runner from the left over trucks from the previous model year. The $45,000 vehicle only cost us $40,000. We didn’t get the color or exact features we wanted but we saved $5000. Woot! And that popularity was not unfounded. We had the car 14 years and it is still on the road today.

Product is Currently Unpopular

For the next vehicle we got a little better at finding mispricing. The SUV boom was well under way and hatchbacks were unpopular and considered no longer cool. When we actually looked at the features they delivered enough mass and safety features to be safe, better gas mileage and all the functions of a full size SUV (that we needed). They were simply unpopular compared to the monster truck models of the day.

We combined the unpopular feature with the late model technique and got a Subaru Forester for $20,000. This was half the cost of the previous car purchase. Woot! $20,000 saved! These cars have since become popular again as more and more folks figured out the many benefits of these mid sized sport utility vehicles so mispricing affect is largely gone (on this model).  We were in style again, at least for a while.

Cash, Analysis and Patience

For our most recent purchase we added analysis and patience to the mix and to further benefit from mispricing. Many cars are rated by reliability. And they if aren’t rated top tier for reliability they really suffer in the used car market. People don’t want to own something that wasn’t best for reliability when purchasing something used. But when you do the analysis a middle tier rated car is actually more reliable than cars of the past.

We saved $30,000

We combined flexibility, our reliability analysis and the unpopular status of middle tier to watch, wait for and eventually obtain a used Volvo wagon for $12,000 dollars with very low miles. Woot! $30,000 saved! The battle wagon doesn’t have a lot of advertisments 

 

In summary

The market (us buyers and sellers) occasionally misprices goods and servies and assigns artificially high prices to the best and artificially low prices to the runner ups. You can discover and use this mispricing if you conduct the analysis, are flexible, patient and willing to select something currently unpopular (not easy as it sounds) that meets your particular needs. Just do your homework to make sure it is actually mispriced and not low cost for a reason you care about.

What about you? Have you benefited from temporary mispricing conditions?

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-07-25/berkshire-hathaways-charlie-munger-shows-a-golden-touch

Are you a bad person for sending your kid to private school?

A recent slate article proposed that if you send your kid to private school you are a bad person.

The thesis for this claim is that if every single child to public school they would improve.

No studies or data are presented to back this up.

And she might be right – but convince us!

Will putting more people into a bad system help? Maybe. But why didn’t it help from the previous generation? Or the one before that? Were those parents lazy? Didn’t they use their influence and connections to improve the education system? Is it better?

An alternate approach is creative destruction. In a system where bad actors (second rate phone companies, restaurants that get everyone sick) are allowed to fail and good actors (first rate phone companies, barf-free restaurants) are enabled to thrive, over time, the bias tends towards more good actors.

That is the private school system. A public school can be reformed but, until folks move away it can also continue to operate “as is”. Indeed, private schools put pressure on public schools to get better by their higher performance. I emotionally get the “we all need to go to public schools to improve it”. Then I think of the clogged roads and how teleworking is opting out and improves

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Does more here help? Image attribution: CC BY-SA 2.5, Link

my circumstances and enables more of a scare resource (roads) to be more available to those who need it.

We can do better than sacrificing a child’s education in the hopes that doing so might improve the over all system. A better use of these energies is to educate the children who need it now and thereby raising the standard upon which all schools are evaluated.

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