Paying for private school in the DMV area

Tips and tricks for sending your child to private school for Washingtonians

Tag: help pay for school tuition

The Way to Wealth is Through Saw Dust

Problem: You need more storage

We needed more storage in the living room for stuff that had been piling up on the floor.  Ikea offers a number of credenzas but the size we wanted was about $500, before taxes. And I wanted something made of solid wood since we would be looking at it a lot and I find they are much easier to repair.

Solution: Used furniture 

Craiglist to the rescue! After many weeks of checking we found  a Modern Skovby Danish Teak piece.  Apparently these are normally thousands of dollars new and approaching $1000 used.   The one near us was being unloaded for $200.

There was a catch -the owner noted it was being sold for such a low price because it had some bad water stains.

No problem. I read that one could often iron them right out! This thing would be as good as new in no time!

Water Stain City

My buddies and I went and picked it up.

Woah.

It had a lot of water stains. Some over a foot long. And blue paint. And dents and nicks and scratches galore. Luckily, I had planned for such a possibility and bought it with plan b in mind – sand blast it!

Danish Oil To the Rescue

This summer I picked up a $40 palm sander to learn how to use a palm sander and to refinish the back patio table which was weathered.

I  put on a breathing mask and went to town on this thing – lightly sanding and buffing this thing to get the old finish, water stains and paint off. Some areas required extra attention because of what appear to be teeth marks from dogs. Woof!

The starting point was dusty, dark and deeply stained furniture

The Progression

Here is a photo of one (of many) water stain on the bottom left corner.

Photo of one (of many) water stain

Photo of one (of many) water stain

Here it is after a light sanding.

 

Lightly sanded

Lightly sanded

 

And the restored surface after refinishing it.

 Tried and True Danish Oil to the Rescue.

Tried and True Danish Oil to the Rescue.

 

Please be aware that Danish Oil left in the open will light on fire with no sparks at all through a rapid oxidation process. This will start a major fire. Always put your used rags and brushes in water immediately after use.

Costs

And here is the same model, in rosewood instead of teak, for $2800. And the teak ones go for about $1000 although I found a good one for $685 before shipping costs. Again, these are used prices for these functional works of art.

The Way to Wealth is Through Saw Dust

When it was all said and done we have a refinished side board for about $300. Depending on how you count it we either saved $200 (compared to Ikea) or $1800 (for a comparable product) or more likely somewhere in between. Importantly we learned a new skill (the entire family pitched) in and had a lot of fun. And it was cheap enough if it didn’t work out it wasn’t a big deal. We could get two for the cost of a new economy item.

Of course you can do much better than this by getting low end furniture used. But this point is that one way to pay tuition expenses is through a cloud of saw dust. And this is of course, an analogy for actual hands on work.

Should I Raid My 529 to Pay for Private Elementary School?

About 529 Plans

 A 529 plan “is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs.” [1]

New Tax Law Expands 529 Use

The recent tax overhaul bill expands parents funding options to pay for private elementary and high school tuition.

Specifically, the new bill enables one to dip into a 529 plan to pay for any private school [1] – not just colleges. For example, if you have a large stash of cash in a 529 saved for college but the realities are that your youngster is struggling at school  this might be worth exploring. After all, if college is at risk because of present challenges a private school might be able to help.

Should I Raid My 529?

Raiding college savings funds to pay for lower school tuition isn’t something to be done lightly. However, it is an option now and one being worth aware of if you are considering private school for your child.

Before doing so it is worth stepping back and considering three things.

  1.  First, carefully monitor and learn about your expenses for a month. Observe your actual expenses not what you think they should be in the future. Can you still save for college or pay for some colleges based on your current situation or with some viable adjustments? And what will happen if the tax law changes again in a few year? Will you still be able to pay?
  2.  Second, with our kids it is easy to panic. Get rationale. Can some less drastic changes at school or at home help with the issues? Are charter schools or other public schools (yes, you have to move) an option? What is the full spectrum of options – and which qualify as good enough?
  3.  And finally, after the the rational exploration in steps one and two (and some meditation), follow your heart. Specifically, what do think you  wish you had did 20 years from now?  Do that and make it work by being the grown up.

If your family determines that private school is for you and you are going to raid the 529 plans to make it happen, immediately become a reader of this blog (paying-for-private-school.com) and the many other excellent financial management blogs out there. We can help.

References

  1. “An Introduction to 529 Plans.” SEC Emblem. December 04, 2017. Accessed December 30, 2017. https://www.sec.gov/reportspubs/investor-publications/investorpubsintro529htm.html.
  2.  Hobbs, Tawnell D. “Losing Students, Private Schools Try to Change.” The Wall Street Journal. December 29, 2017. Accessed December 30, 2017. https://www.wsj.com/articles/losing-students-private-schools-try-to-change-1514557437.

Vacations are for wimps

It is cold outside now but warm breezes and the faint scent of sun screen on everything are only four months away. Time for  summer vacations!

Have you ever wondered about the origin of a vacation?

Did farmers – the majority of people through much of recent human history – who had to milk the cows daily and couldn’t leave livestock unattended for more than a few hours – take a two week cruise? Did they take time off? Absolutely!  They called it Sunday (other terms across religions but a similar concept in many of them). And they had holidays.

A holiday is a special holy day that didn’t fall on a Sunday. We have since worked in various national holidays as well but it is the same idea.

And many resorts and retreats started with a religious focus – not an opportunity to imbibe, spend and be idle. Admittedly,  I am over extending this a bit but the main point is that there are different ways to take a break.

More recently there is pressure – and I mean that in the worst way – to to visit some exotic local, take photos and post them to Facebook. Look how much fun we are having!

Disney Springs

Disney Springs – Wikicommons Theme Park Tourist

A trip to Disney for four costs about $4000 and I know of a family who spent over $10,000 in a single week.

You know what is a lot less stressful? Stay home that week. Make a lovely dinner. Do some work  around the house you normally would have outsourced and you can easily handle. Go to a movie. Splurge for popcorn and drinks. After all, you are saving about $500 a day.

This turns a week off into a low stress even rather than a mad dash to somewhere and back again.

We have done this before and in sourced $1000 dollars of basic kitchen repair work *and* spent lots of quality time with family. And my kid learned how to paint a kitchen (Don’t worry – I just had him try it for a few minutes – it was low pressure) and was pretty pleased about it.  There was still plenty of pool time, time with extended family, games, day trips and eating out.

We experience the same warm breezes and relaxation and at the end of the week we are well rested and financially better off. Now *that* is what I call relaxing.

The simple life

One advantage of sending your child to private school is that much of your income goes along with them. As a result it limits the other available choices because you have much less discretionary income.

Fretting over a grand tour of Europe? Fret no more! You aren’t going!

This extreme financial constraints limit your choices and the resulting simplification actually leads to longer term happiness. It is known as the paradox of choice.

Have you always wanted to simplify your life? Now you can! And what better way than the assurance of a monthly tuition bill.  To be clear this isn’t about poverty – this is about voluntary simplicity. It is an interesting side effect we have noticed over years of sending the kiddo to a private school.

Read more about it in this outstanding book The Paradox of Choice (you are going to have a lot of time on your hands).

Oh, and for the trip? Easy, you are either staying home or going camping. Pick one.