Paying for private school in the DMV area

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

Tag: school scholarships (page 3 of 4)

Wait for it. Wait for it. Steady. Steady…..Now!

When paying for tuition for years on end I found that be willing to wait can be an ally.

We are going camping soon and usually it’s a school thing (includes tents). But this outing is a separate tent and we needed some gear.

Reviews of the low end tents revealed they are ok unless it gets windy or rainy. A wet tent would not be good for little (or big) people so we wanted to upgrade. Car camping tents can become really expensive quickly. And each night not in a hotel sort of pays for itself.

What we wanted it the glorious 6 persons REI Base camp tent. Ventilated awesomeness. With a footprint and tax it comes in a very reasonable $500. However, we aren’t reasonable. We are paying for private school. So I kept an eye out for a week, and then weeks, and then months. Prices would vary but even on Ebay the used ones were going $300+ something. They must be great tents. We spent weeks looking for one to rent from numerous places (check out lowegear.com if you camp).

Didn’t work out. We really wanted that one. But we have since learned it can be productive to be ok with second place. REI (who we like to support because of their fantastic educational programs and supporting community and the natural environment) had a two week only sale in the spring – 25% off on goods upon check out.

They only had one tent for sale with that would comfortably fit us – a Big Agnes. The reputable brand had a model with good, but somewhat mixed reviews. It was presumably on the way out for improved models so it was 25% off. After further reading I realized it wasn’t selling because bad reviews were being posted about that actually referenced a previous model. So this was an excellent tent and more than we needed for basic car camping and was small enough to serve for other trips as well.

Curious, I put the tent in the basket and saw and additional 25% off. This sucker, new, we being dumped because of mistaken reviews (or REI needed to clear inventory, or both).

It was cheaper to buy this tent new than rent the exact same model. By being patient, and flexible we were able to get an excellent tent for a price that didn’t bust our budget.

Big Agnes Tent

Not a camper? It is low cost adventure option. The long weekend we have planned would have been $600 in hotel costs alone – it is much less money to camp for this particular outing.

 

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.

 

Five scholarships for the 2017

Did you know financial aid and scholarships are available to help pay for private school tuition?

Income and frugality will be your core mechanism but financial aide can help.  Here are five scholarship sources  to get you thinking about it.

  1.  Your child’s school. Most private schools have financial aid and requests are typically assessed by an independent review board. You won’t know unless look into it.
  2.  The Louisiana School Choice program  had a number of rebates, tax deductions and school choice options. Research programs in your state and keep an eye out – this might expand with the new administrations education appointment.  Georgia has already handed out $117 million in tax credits in 2017.
  3. Or how about an academic achievement scholarship?
  4. Or maybe the better chance scholarship or the Jack Kent Cooke young scholars program is the scholarship for you.
  5. Not enough? Here are 50 more private school scholarship options.

While saving money  will be the driver a small scholarship can certainly help. Feel guilty about applying? Don’t – this isn’t for you.

Be ok with second place

There seems to be a built in mechanism in most of us to want the best of everything. What is the best car at the best price? Where is the best place to live? Reports are written and millions in advertising spent to help you get the best. And given that you earn enough income to consider private school you are probably (over) trained to analyze, sort, prioritize and select the optimal solution as part of your work life.

Stop trying to optimize at home.  To pay for private school, for many of us, this is the route we take. Sure, measure, but often second, third  or fourth place is just fine. Indeed, you don’t even need the best private school – just a school that fits for your child. And that may be your local charter or public school.

Add the phrase “good enough” to your lexicon and your life will get a lot simpler and you can focus your resources on the things that matter most to your family.

 

 Lt. j.g. Aaron Lanzel takes second place at the Armed Forces Cross Country Championship with a time of 39:32. Source: Wiki Commons

Lt. j.g. Aaron Lanzel takes second place at the Armed Forces Cross Country Championship with a time of 39:32. Source: Wiki Commons

The Granny Smith cash multiplier method

There is a very subtle multiplier effect which is essentially a tax free income booster that can help you pay for a private school tuition. Here is how it works.

In November my wife was looking for a tree to plant on our very (very) small yard as a screen for a nearby street. The tree had to be fairly small given the constraints of said small yard.

She happened upon one that was ascetically pleasing with a maximum height and width of 30 feet by 30 feet. Measured from the location of where we would place it with a yard stick (it’s a small yard) at full size the tree will expand 15 feet each way. Perfect!

Method Tip 1: Avoid having to earn as much income on the purchase by purchasing a lower cost item.

The ten foot tall tree, while ideal in form and habit, was half bereft of leaves with a bit of a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree look going on. The tree was originally $120 but was marked down to $30. A sale!

Enter step one of the multiplier effect. She saved $90 dollars on the original purchase.

US Currency - Source Wiki Commons

US Currency – Source Wiki Commons

That saved amount removed the need to earn that extra $90. Let’s assume a 40% cumulative, federal, state, sales taxes and mystery fees on the income. That extra $90 would have cost $126 in earned income to cover. Whew!

To restate- that is $126 in earnings we didn’t have to make to actually end up with the $90 extra we would have needed for the full price of the tree.

Method Tip 2: When making a purchase, have it solve multiple problems at once.

My mother told me that her grandmother had a purpose for every plant around the farmhouse, in addition to looking nice.

In our case we were looking for a small tree that provides a summer screen from the nearby street but still looks good and drops leaves in the winter for additional sunlight in the colder months. This works for both screening and sound attenuation in the winter as it is quite dense with branches.

What else could it do for us?

In our case the tree selected is a Granny Smith apple tree! It should produce about $20 bucks of

caption2

By No machine-readable author provided. Fievet assumed (based on copyright claims). – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., Public Domain, Link

organic apples every year (ok, more like $50 but I want to be conservative here to make a point).

And we placed it on the west side of the house to shade (and cool the air) going into the AC and near the house.

What about having to pick the extra apples that we won’t eat, giving bags of them to neighbors, family, coworkers and the local food pantry and then still having to pick busted ones off the ground? What a hassle right? Sure, but we have arranged our lives such that we get regular physical activity with this sort of money saving effort all year long. Annual gym memberships were cancelled long ago but we will only count the month of apple picking and leaf raking mayhem here for another $50 saved.

And for the grand finale, our nearby park has crab apple trees. These can be used to cross pollinate Granny Smith apple trees (they self-pollinate but word in the fields is that a nearby pollinator will help with yields). That is a second $30 tree we didn’t have to buy (nor had space for) because we selected a compatible tree for our neighborhood.

Total economic impact

The first year we saved $90 on the tree and $30 on a second tree we didn’t need to purchase. The tree (fairly big already) should produce apples about three years hence and provide the shade to assist with house cooling.

Lets look at the numbers using the Granny Smith multiplier method.

Year 1: $120 saved

Year 3 on: $50 saved on gym membership, $20 on apple costs and $5 on AC costs for an annual savings of $75.

Ten year economic output: $645

And remember this is all tax free after the initial $30 we spent. That is a money tree that offers $60+ annually in savings, builds community as we gift organic apples, screens the street and provides a beautiful tree to look at. Plus it is pretty cool to have an apple tree.

Let’s assume my conservative numbers are *still* too high and it only saves us half that, or $30 a month.

Fine. An investment with a yield will take a hit of 15% on the income so I would need $34.5 in monthly income ($414 annually) to produce that same value.

A typical safe stocks yield 3%. We would need a stock portfolio with a market value of $13,800 to produce that same income. And to purchase that stock we would have had to earn $20,010 in gross income to purchase that investment.

Oh, and the yield on the Granny Smith Apple Tree is $30 a year or 100% of its original purchase price, annually.

We just trounced the stock market and avoided having to earn an additional $20,000. Thanks Granny Smith!

Don’t overdo it

The multi-purpose mindset does have its limits. Spending an extra $10,000 on a fancy pick-em-up-truck because you might need to haul a jumbo pack of toilet paper someday is just a slow way to lose money. Just think about it first and run the numbers is all I am saying.

Get into the multi-purpose mindset. You can do this.

How to save $3000 in a single weekend

This weekend we had quite the coup on the financial front. In short, we saved $3000 in a single weekend. The largest portion of these savings is very counter intuitive. Specifically, it is something we *didn’t* do that resulted in the savings.

Our sidewalk has sunk  down into the ground quite a bit and we need it back here on earth. To do this we were considering hiring a contractor to repair and replace our entire front sidewalk.

Grassy Slate Sidewalk - Source: Wiki Commons

Grassy Slate Sidewalk – Source: Wiki Commons

We diligently obtained lots of quotes – some as high as $8000 and one  contractor quoted us is a good deal at $2000. And the contractor seems excellent. And the firm is made up of U.S.  military service veterans.  So, heroes.

And then we paused.

We are all correctly hardwired to an action for bias. But to pay for school means to prioritize spending in a most singular way. And that often means *not* taking action. After some thought we decided to pass. $2000 saved immediately. There are lots of other much lower cost options available to us. The alternatives aren’t as quick, or as fancy looking, as a new slate sidewalk. But a $40 slate patch serves a more important purpose.

Many people say this and I can’t stress it enough; The most effective way to save money is to not spend it.

It is not the 2 for 1 deals, coupons or thrift stores that get it done. Those are indeed effective tools – but only after not spending is considered as the first choice.

The saving super power of not doing anything is often forgotten. It goes against our bias towards action.

And it is sacrifice. That is what is required to pay the tuition for someone else. Embrace it. The lower cost solution still meets the need and makes room for something more valuable. It also has the benefit of keeping us from getting a little too proud or having the neighbors get envious of a brand new slate sidewalk. Instead they will see a nice and neat, but uninspiring, repair job.

So that is the first $2000.

The remaining $1000 was saved on a train trip using an Amtrak rewards card. We had enough points to take a required family trip for free. Score! This is what most of us will get excited about. Goods and services for free! Points! Free travel!

I want to reiterate that this isn’t where the magic happens. It happens on the cracked and aged (but still serviceable) sidewalk staying that way. Boring, simple and requiring no action. Embrace the self-restraint and acknowledge that it is difficult to do. The children aren’t the only ones who get an education from a private school.

Do nothing - Source Wiki Commons

Do nothing – Source Wiki Commons

$3000 saved in 2 days, most of it through pausing and then… doing nothing.

Are you sure you can’t afford  to pay for private school?

Paying for private school is training wheels for college expenses

I often hear from folks who say that can’t afford to pay for private school for their young children because they are saving for college.

That is like saying you are going to wait to train for a marathon until the day before because you don’t want to wear yourself out.

The time to educate your children is now, not after they have grown up and are using education primarily for job skills acquisition.

And a benefit of this approach is you are running a college simulation program! You are practicing paying for a portion (or all) of college, right now. Good for you! Keep it up!

Yes, there is a risk that things won’t work out as expected but life is full or risks. Don’t wait until the end of it to do what you feel is right.

You can do this.

Black Friday! Act now! Don’t miss the holidays!

 

Today is Black Friday. One can save thousands by acting fast!  One day sales only! Act now! Quick! Save hundreds by spending thousands. Sure, your cash balance

caption2

By Powhusku from Laramie, WY, USA – Black Friday, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

will drop and credit card balance will rise but hey, look at all the new fancy stuff you didn’t even know you needed!

Resist.

Slow down.

Get out of line. Empty your online cart.

That stuff will still be there next week. And the week after that. And without time pressure you can buy fewer items and spend less money overall.

How about this 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, you are giving your kids a great education and the tools, later in life, to buy stacks of material goods if they so choose.

 

The power of record keeping

Earlier this week our Volvo’s  “check engine light” came on. I grabbed my handy dandy OBDI reader and plugged it in to the White Whale’s (That is what we respectfully call it)  OBDI reader slot. This is really easy to do and at a dealer this work costs $160. I know because I paid for that service once.

Two second later I saw the offending error message – a cylinder misfire.  Knowledgeable people on the internet had noted this might affect gas mileage but was not an immediate safety issue.

We purchased the car volvo-wagon-blueused but it came with an extended warranty and this is beyond my (current) rudimentary car maintenance skills so we took it in thinking this might be a warranty item.

The shop dutifully noted that it was likely because we hadn’t had the 75,000 service and since that needed to be done anyway why not go ahead and perform the work.

That item – the 75,000 service – rang a bell. I quickly bounded up the stairs and checked my records. We keep a file for each call and just add the work to the running list as it is performed.  And sure enough – there it was –  $990 for the 75,000 mileage  service a mere 12 weeks ago. We didn’t do it at this particular place so they didn’t have it in their records.

This wasn’t malicious intent on their part and was a good guess as to what might have been the cause. More likely one of the brand new spark plugs wasn’t seated properly, or faulty which is a much smaller repair. Indeed, the problem was a cable that wasn’t plugged in properly. The technician reconnected the cable and the problem was solved.

A $990 expense saved – all from a line in a word file on a ten year old computer. Keep your own records for big things like car expenses. Saving $1000 here and there can fund a tuition.

The saving power of down blankets

Little costs add up. Avoid them and you can redirect those funds toward tuition payments.

For example, a few years ago during a conversation someone mentioned they had a down blanket and thus kept their heat a bit lower in the winter.

Inspired, we researched, explored and then purchased three down blankets. This has a notable upfront costs. Synthetic down is lower cost and, importantly for kids, won’t make your nose itchy or cause an asthma attack.

This fluffy stuff – available in blankets and jackets is a magical no-power-required space heater that follows you around.

We lowered our heat from 72 degrees at night to 62 degrees with no loss in comfort. Saving 3% on our bill for every degree we lower our heat means we dropped our bill by about thirty percent. And this applies for every month of the winter. Every year. On a $200 heating bill (it’s cold where we live) that is $60 bucks each month that can be sent to the school to pay for tuition. Just with a few blankets. Passive power.

That might not seem like a lot. Learn to respect small amounts of money. When we were first scrambling to find ways to cut expenses we did research to cover the cost of private school we made a list and started going through the items one at a time for months. $60 a month isn’t a lot of money. But twenty $60 items is $1200 a month. You can do this.

 

 

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