Can I afford private school for my kids?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
Roberts111
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:54 pm

Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Roberts111 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:10 am

My wife and I have two kids ages 10 and 6 which are enrolled in the local public school system. It's a decent district with above average test scores. Recently, I have discovered that there is a private school that emphasizes classical Christian education in the area. This appeals to me because:
1. We are Christian and faith/values for our children are important.
2. I like the classical approach to education much better than modern/common core.
3. Student / teacher ratio is 10/1 as opposed to 30/1.

The cost is 11k per child.
So my question is if I can afford it for one or both children without putting my family and future at financial risk. Also, does anyone in a similar situation have experience with private school and can offer advice?
Here is our financial picture:
- Parent Ages 42 and 38
- My salary (gross) - 140k, Stay-at-home wife
- Spending - 5k/month
- Own home outright
- 400k in investments including 401k/IRA/RE
- 25k/each child in college savings plans
- 60k emergency cash

sunny_socal
Posts: 823
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2015 4:22 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby sunny_socal » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:30 am

We're putting our kids through private school under similar circumstances, same reasons. Whether you can afford it depends on your expenses.

sweeden22
Posts: 16
Joined: Fri Nov 18, 2016 6:11 am

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby sweeden22 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:07 am

I have seen wonderful things in public schools. The diversity is massively beneficial too.

Many in my family were public school teachers, they were passionate and loved teaching. They often had students come/go from private schools. I asked several times over the yeras if the private school students stood out. Some noted a particular school's students would be strong in reading, but weak in math. Another strong in math but weak in reading/writing. Some of the schools had rather odd workbook and computer curriculum with not much interaction, actual teaching, in the classes. Some of the parents would be knocked over after many years in private schools, trying the public again would impress them mightily. A board member from one private school moved their children to the public schools and complimented the teachers and students in the public system repeatedly.

However, it depends on your area. Like other things, many areas have great public schools with mediocre private schools. There are also extraordinary private schools. Often times it is extremely difficult to know this too. There are many preconceptions about a particular school, whether good or bad, that might not be correct.

In terms of an expense which is the main focus of your question, I have seen enough schools myself that I would feel mightily happy about keeping that money for their college education or other benefit of the family. Again, I am sure there are exceptions depending on where you live, but we should not always think you get the value out of the private school. Remember, your state is putting a lot of money into each student in the public schools. It is not a free education in its quality, far from it. It sounds as though you and your wife are available to your kids to help share the important values and beliefs, which is important too. I could see one or two family vacations focused on some of the significant locations of your faith to be a wonderful opportunity if you saved the private school funds. You could always cut the trip back or scrap it should the finances not allow it, but it would be difficult to pull the kids out of the private schools and friends if you went that route and found it was squeezing the budget too much. I know kids adjust, but I would also consider their success/enjoyment/review of current schools/teachers.

denovo
Posts: 2944
Joined: Sun Oct 13, 2013 1:04 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby denovo » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:34 am

Roberts111 wrote:- My salary (gross) - 140k, Stay-at-home wife
- Spending - 5k/month


Need way more info.

You make 11.5k/month. Where does that go? Expenses, which saving pots, etc. You may want to edit your opening post so other posters can see everything in a formalized place. You've only accounted for 5k.

A couple of things to consider.

1. You want to spend 2k a month on private schools. Can you reduce savings by 2k a month?

2. Consider the environment of the other school from a financial perspective. Most families who enroll their kids are probably upper middle class to wealthy. If those families all live in a better neighborhood, drive fancier cars, just spend more money you or your children may feel like fish out of water.
Stocks (80% of portfolio): 30% US Large, 4% Mid Cap, 6% Small Cap, 20% Emerg Market, 10% Asia Developed, 10% Europe, 5% Intl Small Cap, 10% US RE, 5 % INTL RE | Bonds (20%): US Interm Bond Index

bluejello
Posts: 383
Joined: Sun Sep 21, 2014 9:40 am

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby bluejello » Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:20 am

Grossing $140k with $5k monthly expenses? Of course you can afford it.

Question is, is this the best way to spend your money to get your kids the education you want?

For example, instead of spending $22k per year on private school you could:

Hire private tutors to teach them the classics (student-to-teacher ratio of 1 to 1!) It's not hard to find highly qualified graduate students or adjunct professors willing to tutor.

Send them to Christian / enrichment summer camp

Do cool extracurriculars... there's another thread about how expensive sports and music can be

Travel overseas with them, perhaps to do volunteer or mission work

Save for college

etc.

Only you and your wife know what is the best for your children. I'd just encourage you to explore and compare other ways to supplement their education.

Instead of "can I afford private school?" your question should be "how much can I afford to spend on my children's education, and what is the best way to spend that money?"

If at the end of the day you believe this private school is best, then you can definitely afford it.

runner540
Posts: 21
Joined: Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:43 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby runner540 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:00 am

Have you reviewed this recent thread?
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=216226&p=3323014#p3323014

randomguy
Posts: 4467
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby randomguy » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:16 am

denovo wrote:
Roberts111 wrote:- My salary (gross) - 140k, Stay-at-home wife
- Spending - 5k/month


Need way more info.

You make 11.5k/month. Where does that go? Expenses, which saving pots, etc. You may want to edit your opening post so other posters can see everything in a formalized place. You've only accounted for 5k.

A couple of things to consider.

1. You want to spend 2k a month on private schools. Can you reduce savings by 2k a month?

2. Consider the environment of the other school from a financial perspective. Most families who enroll their kids are probably upper middle class to wealthy. If those families all live in a better neighborhood, drive fancier cars, just spend more money you or your children may feel like fish out of water.


OP makes 140k/yr (even more when you consider the opportunity cost of a stay at home wife). They are the upper middle class family that forms the core private christian schools. We are not talking about some elite 30k/yr HS that weeds out all but the rich. They can afford all sorts of luxury goods. They just need to decide which ones they value. Is it oversaving for retirement? Buying fancy cars (you can get 2 really nice ones of 1k/month)? education? Charity?

If you are willing to pay money, you have to make guesses (and that is all they are) about what school will be the best fit. Personally if the 10 year old is doing well, I would stay the course.

User avatar
BL
Posts: 6600
Joined: Sun Mar 01, 2009 2:28 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby BL » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:42 am

It is a choice you need to work out based on your value system. Many Christians decide to send their children to public schools, but others do not. Visit and volunteer in both schools. That would help you decide. I have seen students from some private schools flounder and be way behind when they transferred in 6th grade, while other schools seemed to work out just fine. I expect either will work out, and you would be happy with your choice. Parent support is very important, so yours should do well in either place. Are the kids happy where they are? Are they exposed to children with disabilities, various cultures and economic conditions? This is part of the world they will live in and being comfortable with those who are different at a young age is important, IMO.

I expect your church school pays teachers less, at least that is true where I live. Although this could be an advantage, I expect not. Some areas allow private students to participate in music and sports, others may not. I only considered it once for kindergarten, but we happened to move so the reason was no longer there (reason was just a child's age requirement for starting).

Private schools often have a lot of fundraisers so the 11k may be just a start for costs.

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 15842
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:52 am

You are going to spend more than $2K per month, the $2K is just tuition. You will also be asked to contribute for fundraisers, books, etc. in addition to school uniforms. I'd budget more than $2K, more like $2.5K per month, more or less.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

Rupert
Posts: 1907
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Rupert » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:58 am

BL wrote:Private schools often have a lot of fundraisers so the 11k may be just a start for costs.


This is an important point. The tuition is just part of the cost of attending private school. The pressure on parents (and even grandparents) to contribute money in addition to tuition never stops. There are usually also other fees (technology fees, book fees, class fees, etc.), and the cost of lunch is much higher than in public schools (often 2-3 times as much). So make sure you talk to other parents with kids there to find out the true cost of attendance. I'm betting if the tuition is $11k, the true cost of attendance is actually going to be closer to $15k.

User avatar
TxAg
Posts: 986
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:09 am

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby TxAg » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:00 am

That seems steep to me given your income. It's doable but requires some sacrifice.

ddorsett
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Apr 29, 2015 12:48 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby ddorsett » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:21 am

Greetings,

I'm working on the same decision. I have a son taking advanced classes in public school and worry about moving him to a Christian because they may not be challenging enough for him. Does your state have "Choice Scholarships" plan? You can use funds intend for public school and apply them to the private school. This cut the actual cost in half for me.

-D3

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 15842
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:28 am

One other issue that no one has brought up yet - your children are 10 and 6, they are currently enrolled in a public school system where; 1) they have already established "roots' and "friendships" with other classmates; 2) they are familiar with the class environment; 3) we are near the end of the school year and they are already looking forward to seeing the friends over the summer, etc. Disruption should be minimized if possible once a routine has been established, otherwise your kids will need to start from square zero (new kid in the classroom) while everyone else will have an advantage. It all depends on how social your kids are and how accepting the new class will be. Remember, while you may have certain values that does not mean every one else has the same.

My point is this, more than dollars and sense, you may be disrupting your child's mental and social development for no reason other than .......(fill in the blank).
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

afan
Posts: 2502
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:01 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby afan » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:42 am

Way too much to spend when you have decent public schools. It is far more important to save for college. That can be extremely expensive. It would be perfectly reasonable to put that entire 22k per year into college savings.

Not your question, I know, but I suggest rethinking your goals. One of the most important elements of learning is hearing new ideas that you would not get at home. If you are devout practitioners of one religion that alone would be reason not to send your kids to a school of the same faith. Otherwise, your kids get a narrow view of the US. There are a lot of people who follow other faiths and many flavors of Christianity. Your kids will live in a highly diverse culture. They need to experience this.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

jerkstore
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Mar 08, 2011 12:52 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby jerkstore » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:15 am

my question is if I can afford it for one or both children without putting my family and future at financial risk

With 1 income, the answer entirely depends on your job security. Yes you can swing it, but this isn't the type of thing you want to undo if your income changes. What is the risk that your income could change?

$60k annual expenses goes to $82k with tuition. Still room for retirement and college savings of approx 20k per yr after taxes.

Would like you to have more saved for retirement at your age, but maybe not if your job security is high.

You may do well to post all of your actual expenses...this will draw out any oversight that may have been made.

Ignore all of the non-financial posts.

bloom2708
Posts: 1712
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:08 pm
Location: Fargo, ND

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby bloom2708 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:39 am

Have you asked the kids their thoughts? 10 is old enough to have established friends, activities.

If your kids are doing well, $11k/kid seems "outside of reasonable" for me. Just my opinion. $22k over 10 years + extra expenses will pay for most of their college educations. That is not insignificant.

One reply mentioned the diversity and experience gained from pubic schools. Everything isn't about money, but this is a decision that has a monetary impact plus other interesting/hard to determine paths. Good luck!
"We are here not to please but to provoke thoughtfulness" Unknown Boglehead | | Want to buy something? Watch this first: https://vimeo.com/41152287

Roberts111
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:54 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Roberts111 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:43 am

Wow. I got many great replies over night.
I should add that in addition to maxing out 401k, spousal IRA, Roth, and HSA, I spend extra on padding savings, taxable investments, home projects, and vacations. I would have to cut into that second set of expenses.
My current course was what some of you mentioned below:
- use extra funds for camps, extra curricular activities, international family vacations
- We are currently very involved in the local public schools and work well with her teachers
- My daughter has a large diversity of friends; I see this as both good and bad depending on how she responds to peer pressure

Based on feedback it sounds like private school wouldn't be off base but it would require sacrifice. Thank you for those posters that pointed out the hidden fees and costs of private school. I wasn't aware of how much those could add up.

aristotelian
Posts: 1253
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby aristotelian » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:55 am

Yes, you can afford it. You may have to give some things up, such as saving for college, traveling, or saving for retirement. The question is, is it worth it?

new2bogle
Posts: 853
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:05 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby new2bogle » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:15 am

You can afford it if you can cut back on other things. I don't think you can afford in addition to everything else. When I went to college, my impression of home-schooled students and Christian schooled students were that they didn't really fit into the general freshman class. Both of these groups of students had little interaction with people of varying ideas/backgrounds/etc. Anecdotal yes, but that's all I got!

Isabelle77
Posts: 88
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:43 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Isabelle77 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:19 am

Our children are in private school for similar reasons, religious but even more for a more traditional approach to education. We have also found that their small private school is more diverse in every way than our highly rated public schools.

I believe you can easily afford it if you decide that the school is a good fit for your family.

bloom2708
Posts: 1712
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:08 pm
Location: Fargo, ND

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby bloom2708 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:29 am

Isabelle77 wrote:We have also found that their small private school is more diverse in every way than our highly rated public schools.



This is an interesting statement I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around.
"We are here not to please but to provoke thoughtfulness" Unknown Boglehead | | Want to buy something? Watch this first: https://vimeo.com/41152287

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 15842
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:01 pm

bloom2708 wrote:
Isabelle77 wrote:We have also found that their small private school is more diverse in every way than our highly rated public schools.



This is an interesting statement I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around.


Me too, I find that hard to believe ^^.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

Wellfleet
Posts: 349
Joined: Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:18 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Wellfleet » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:22 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
bloom2708 wrote:
Isabelle77 wrote:We have also found that their small private school is more diverse in every way than our highly rated public schools.



This is an interesting statement I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around.


Me too, I find that hard to believe ^^.


At least in New England, schools are organized by municipality so you attend where you are a resident except for small possibilities for school choice. Therefore if everyone in your town needs to be a boglehead in order to live there, then the schools will likely be a homogenous population of bogleheads. Private schools can at least appear to recruit whatever population they desire such as one that might have more active traders. :sharebeer

Rupert
Posts: 1907
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Rupert » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:34 pm

Wellfleet wrote:
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
bloom2708 wrote:
Isabelle77 wrote:We have also found that their small private school is more diverse in every way than our highly rated public schools.



This is an interesting statement I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around.


Me too, I find that hard to believe ^^.


At least in New England, schools are organized by municipality so you attend where you are a resident except for small possibilities for school choice. Therefore if everyone in your town needs to be a boglehead in order to live there, then the schools will likely be a homogenous population of bogleheads. Private schools can at least appear to recruit whatever population they desire such as one that might have more active traders. :sharebeer


The diversity of public schools can also be diminished in cities like mine where there is a strong cultural preference for private schooling. Nearly everyone of (even modest) means here sends their kids to private school. Unfortunately, that leaves only the kids who can't afford private school in the public schools. In the city, those kids tend to be African-American kids. In the county, those kids tend to be white kids. So, yeah, many (not all) private schools here are more diverse, racially, ethnically and socioeconomically, than the public schools here. The schools in my area that are "highly rated," which include a couple of Blue Ribbon Schools, do tend to be a little more diverse than the other public schools, but still only as diverse as the average Catholic school around here. The Catholic schools are definitely the most diverse of all the schools because the Catholic Church (I'm not Catholic btw, so this is not a plug) reaches out to diverse communities to pull students in.

User avatar
celia
Posts: 5644
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby celia » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:37 pm

We did it with a lower income than what you have but chose church-affiliated schools which have a much lower cost than most private schools. DH and I taught in both public and church-affiliated schools and saw a marked difference in the students. Those who are paying tuition (church- or not) will make sure the kids show up, on time, and are prepared to learn (did homework, had breakfast, good night's sleep) and they will follow up on what their child is not understanding. They come to back-to-school nights and support fund-raisers (which enable the tuition to be lower).

Have you talked to teachers in both schools to see where THEY send their kids? That is an easy way to determine how the schools in your area compare.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 4660
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Jack FFR1846 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:43 pm

I'm going to go on a limb.....(16 year old is in a private school similar to what you're looking at).

Sure, you can. But you really need to cut expenses. My wife and I together make about what you do but we don't spend nearly $60k a year, including the school ($8.5k in our case). (I'm leaving our other son's $65k college out of this for this discussion). If both of your kids are in private school, your wife can work while they're at school and pretty easily make enough to pay for the school expenses. You're making big money (in my humble opinion) and if you're not on the Lease-A-Lexus 3 year train or something, I don't see why you can't afford this. We live outside of Boston, so not NYC or SF cost, but still relatively high. My wife works per diem but in the past has worked (for pay) at our church and I know other parents who are able to get part time (low pay) work at the school, which makes it ideal for drop off and pick up.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

User avatar
celia
Posts: 5644
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:32 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby celia » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:49 pm

Rupert wrote:... and the cost of lunch is much higher than in public schools (often 2-3 times as much).

You, the taxpayer, are subsidizing the public school lunch cost. The real cost of the public school lunch would include the cost of food, transportation of it, employees, and cafeteria space. The public school student is not paying the true cost.

It would be better to compare the cost of lunch at private schools (if they offer it) to a lunch you prepare and send to school with the student.

Rupert
Posts: 1907
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:01 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Rupert » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:51 pm

celia wrote:
Rupert wrote:... and the cost of lunch is much higher than in public schools (often 2-3 times as much).

You, the taxpayer, are subsidizing the public school lunch cost. The real cost of the public school lunch would include the cost of food, transportation of it, employees, and cafeteria space. The public school student is not paying the true cost.

It would be better to compare the cost of lunch at private schools (if they offer it) to a lunch you prepare and send to school with the student.


Yeah, but I was just trying to point out to OP an additional cost that he might not have thought of -- additional as in "more than you're currently paying in public school" not additional as in "more than the sack lunch you currently send with your kids."

TheJourneyContinues
Posts: 31
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2015 8:14 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby TheJourneyContinues » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:58 pm

My parents were in a similar situation financially when they decided to send my siblings and I to private Christian school. It was ultimately worth the financial trade-off for them - you can afford it, but there is an opportunity cost. For my parents, that meant having to take out parent loans to send us to college (not that that's necessary, just the choice they made because they still wanted to fund 80% of our college tuition) and a later retirement.

In addition to the extra fees, fundraising costs, etc. mentioned above, two other things come to mind:
1. For us, it was a much longer daily commute to attend our private school. If that's the case for you, consider the impact to your transportation costs (multiple times a day, especially if you have one kid in after school activities by the other comes home at normal time). Also, as a result of the larger geographic area that my school drew from, I had friends that lived anywhere from 10-45 minute drive away, so more transportation cost for socialization there.
2. The keeping up with the Jones phenomenon can be serious in private school! My family was technically upper middle class but lived below their means in terms of house size, types of cars, vacations etc. It felt like I was the only person amongst my peers who lived like this! Now that I'm older and know more about finances, I suspect many families may have just been living above their means but that doesn't change the fact that it can be hard for a teenager not to be able to match the cars and clothes and travel and house of their peers. I'd like to think it ultimately builds character though :D

monsterid
Posts: 93
Joined: Sat Dec 31, 2016 7:10 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby monsterid » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:00 pm

As a kid that went through a Christian elementary school (private) and then to public high school and university I have to say I thought the public system was far better for my education and growth as an individual then the private tuition. Financially obviously it was also beneficial to my family as a whole and allowed me to have a much stronger financial start in life.

No one size fits all obviously!

randomguy
Posts: 4467
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:00 am

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby randomguy » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:08 pm

celia wrote:
Have you talked to teachers in both schools to see where THEY send their kids? That is an easy way to determine how the schools in your area compare.


The teachers at the school are probably not making 140k/yr. They might be getting steep tuition discounts. I also know some teachers that specifically don't want their kids at their school for the same reason doctors/lawyers don't want relatives as clients.You would need to know the teachers specific rational for picking a school to know if how their choices relate to yours.

The debate between private school and public school is never going to be solved. Each school is radically different. Some public schools have incredible opportunities. Others don't. Same thing for private school. And the kids your kid hangs out at schools might have only a lose correlation with the total population. In a high school with say 2000 kids, your kid is going to spend most of their time with the same 30 or so. And you will likely find most of those kids come from families that care about education and are probably pretty well off. The fact that their are 400 ESL kids doesn't have much effect on the 30 kids in the AP/Honors track during the school day. It does dramatically affect the test scores. Private schools tend to get better schools by eliminating the bottom 30%, not by getting the other 70% to perform significantly better.

Money wise, this topic will bring out all the people talking about how you are spending too much, private school school is too expensive for the marginal benefit, and so on. But those are all personal judgements. You have the money. You need to decide where to spent it to maximize your happiness.

pparedes
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2012 3:23 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby pparedes » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:16 pm

Similar to how many other answers to these questions go I'm wondering why not split the difference at an appropriate time where it makes sense for the kids? For example, middle school could be a logical transition period for the kids and it saves you maybe 50k while the youngest finishes elementary school.

This way they both get to experience public and private to make their own judgments. Each kid is different and the small class size seems attractive to parents of private schools for the attention, however when entering middle school, if the kid doesn't get along with the much smaller class size (or dating pool), or might have a tough time breaking into established cliques, the child may hate it more than anything else...

Like investing, predicting your kids 'optimal' education strategy is almost impossible, make the best choice for you and your family, the money usually will take care of itself (since you can afford it now).

Ollie123
Posts: 28
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:39 am

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Ollie123 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:21 pm

What is your take-home pay like (you say 5k expenses, but is there "surplus" in monthly take-home?).

I know discussion seems to have shifted to the pros/cons of private school more generally, but I'm stuck on the finances. Trying to do the math on this and I feel like I have to be missing something. At 140k, even with 2 kids and all the tax-advantaged accounts you are using, your take-home can't be much past that 5k. My wife and I combined earn about that amount. We aren't maxing out the tax-advantaged accounts and there is still no way we could swing the extra 22k/year. You could certainly reduce contributions - you are saving more for retirement than most, but everyone varies in what they want/need. It looks like you certainly "could" afford it, the question is how you would go about it.

Is the real question "Is it okay to slow down the retirement contributions"? 400k at 42 isn't bad at all, but it really depends on what you want/need/expect in retirement.

ncbill
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 4:03 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby ncbill » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:38 pm

We did it because it was a high priority for my wife.

She had gone to the same (private church) school, but back then it ended at 6th grade. She had...well...let's just say "poor" opinions of her subsequent public school experience.

My parents sent me to a snobby, secular private school that ended in 9th grade, though my public school experience was not as traumatic as hers.

However, my takeaway was that even the highest level "honors" courses (in what was supposed to be the best public high school in town) were, academically, a joke compared to supposedly lower-level classes I had back in junior high.

One big advantage for us?

The curriculum changed to that classical emphasis you mentioned, so she was able to go back to teaching at her childhood school, in her preferred subject, nearly a decade ago.

Which cut our per-student tuition in half (similar tuition to what you wrote.)

Sure, you're also expected to contribute, but we never contributed more than around $1000/year extra even when both our kids were there.

And coming out of that environment our oldest was awarded a 4-year (ROTC) scholarship to an expensive, private local university.
Though they only spent a year there before re-applying (and being admitted) to multiple federal service academies.

Now they're at their first choice of the above, I'm not paying a dime for their education, and they're guaranteed employment when they graduate. :)

Jags4186
Posts: 812
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Jags4186 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:44 pm

I would worry about sending kids to the place where they'd receive the best education. Morals and values are taught at home. Unless there are safety issues or if your children are floundering I would leave them at the public school.

Bfwolf
Posts: 1441
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:19 am

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Bfwolf » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:57 pm

Thinking outside the box here: would you consider moving?

There's a premium on houses in good school districts. If you move to an otherwise nice neighborhood with poorer schools, how much money could you gin up to pay for private school?

afan
Posts: 2502
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:01 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby afan » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:23 pm

And if you live in a neighborhood with good public schools you get that high housing price back later when you downsize and sell the house. Or your estate gets it when you die.

Setting aside the wisdom of a school of your same religion, from a financial point of view this does not look close to reasonable.

That college fund would not cover one semester at a private college.

If you are concerned about your kids education you need to put away a lot more towards college costs. You are 7 or 8 years away and have a very long way to go on that saving.

For retirement you also need to put away more than the maximum that can be placed in tax advantaged accounts.

I would put more into retirement funds every month, much more into college funds every month before even considering private school.

Financially you cannot afford this private school if you have to pay for it. If you want a better school, move to a place with better public schools. If you want a stronger religious message, do that at home and through church.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

ysette9
Posts: 57
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:09 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby ysette9 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:04 pm

As others have been touching upon, I think you should take a very careful look at the private school itself along with its curriculum, graduation rate, and where the kids go after graduation. I spent 4 years in a private christian school and I'll be clear up front that I think it was a massive mistake, though my parents thought they were making the best decision at the time.

In the case of the school I went to, academics were definitely secondary. People sent their kids there so they could keep them in the protected cocoon of their "special" religion and not have their kids mix with the real world. This all led to an environment where the kids had a superiority complex from having been told that their special subset of Christianity was more right than all the others, and that their parents loved them more than other parents because they would pay to send them to school. Of course these words were never directly said out loud, but the message got through all the same. That kind of environment was very insular, very unforgiving of anyone even slightly different, and had a significant problem with bullying. I was scared to death to go to public school afterwards after hearing about what awful sinners the public school kids were; I was very much surprised to learn that public school kids were way kinder, way more open-minded, and generally more accepting (huh, perhaps more "Christ-like"?). My parents eventually pulled me out and sent me to public school for the better academics.

Still on the subject of academics, the school I went to didn't prepare most kids for normal college, but was a feeder into the same small christian brand of colleges. When my mother asked my English teacher why I was only being taught grammar and not writing, the answer she got back was because the Special Christian Brand Colleges didn't require personal essays as part of the application. That doesn't even touch upon the lack of choice of foreign language, no honors/AP classes, music not starting until 5th grade, etc.

This is more of a personal philosophical note, but my opinion is that your ideas about the world and the subsequent belief system you develop should be robust. It should be the result of thoughtful questioning and seeking. Meaning, if your religious view is *right* for your kids, then each of them should come to that conclusion through their life's experiences, through speaking with others with differing viewpoints, from experimenting, from reading, and from deciding what is the best fit for them. A religious viewpoint that can't stand up to the light of day in the real world isn't a true foundation and I have a hard time believe it would provide as much satisfaction as a life guided by more careful introspection. Again, I speak only from my own experience, but I am far more grounded and have far more joy now that I follow my own internal moral compass developed over the years and many varying inputs rather than when I was following the external "do this because this is what you were taught in church" morality system. That is not to say that the two are mutually exclusive, but even if the path your kids take perfectly aligns with the religious upbringing you are providing, I believe they will lead more satisfied lives if they independently come to those same conclusions rather than have it be the only perspective they have ever know. The world is diverse and colorful and interesting in so many ways and I think it is important for kids (and adults!) to get out there and experience it.
Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky, like a patient etherized upon a table.

Isabelle77
Posts: 88
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2015 1:43 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Isabelle77 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:07 pm

Wellfleet wrote:
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
bloom2708 wrote:
Isabelle77 wrote:We have also found that their small private school is more diverse in every way than our highly rated public schools.



This is an interesting statement I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around.


Me too, I find that hard to believe ^^.


At least in New England, schools are organized by municipality so you attend where you are a resident except for small possibilities for school choice. Therefore if everyone in your town needs to be a boglehead in order to live there, then the schools will likely be a homogenous population of bogleheads. Private schools can at least appear to recruit whatever population they desire such as one that might have more active traders. :sharebeer


I'm happy to explain. We live in an upper income area with a very high percentage of people who send their kids to the local public schools. As a result our public schools are overwhelmingly homogenous, white, upper middle class incomes, similar family makeups. Our kids' little catholic school draws from a much larger geographic area and 50% of the kids receive some kind of financial assistance. Many religious and parochial schools are in a similar situation.

afan
Posts: 2502
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:01 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby afan » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:33 pm

Isabelle77 wrote:
Wellfleet wrote:
Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
bloom2708 wrote:
Isabelle77 wrote:We have also found that their small private school is more diverse in every way than our highly rated public schools.



This is an interesting statement I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around.


Me too, I find that hard to believe ^^.




I'm happy to explain. We live in an upper income area with a very high percentage of people who send their kids to the local public schools. As a result our public schools are overwhelmingly homogenous, white, upper middle class incomes, similar family makeups. Our kids' little catholic school draws from a much larger geographic area and 50% of the kids receive some kind of financial assistance. Many religious and parochial schools are in a similar situation.


We have a similar thing locally. In a HCOL area the parents are well educated and have high incomes. I suppose a person with a high income but without the education might live there, but I have never encountered such a person. Maybe there are a handful of professional athletes, but basically the income to live in these areas is available only to well educated executives and professionals. The schools are filled with their kids. There is no socioeconomic diversity because no one else can afford to live there.

Private schools often prize diversity and have scholarships for lower income students. So the student body easily is more diverse than what you would find in a public school in an upper income neighborhood.

I would be careful not to overstate the expectations for further donations from the parents at a private school. Not everyone can afford that and everyone knows this to be the case. The schools of course have to pursue donations from those who can give. They have development professionals who know that a pair of pediatricians is not going to make the kind of donations they might get from a hedge fund manager.

The environment can be tilted by the relatively high concentration of well to do families, but I am not sure it is different than at a public school in a wealthy areas.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

User avatar
TomatoTomahto
Posts: 5740
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:48 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:01 pm

Grt2bOutdoors wrote:
bloom2708 wrote:
Isabelle77 wrote:We have also found that their small private school is more diverse in every way than our highly rated public schools.



This is an interesting statement I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around.


Me too, I find that hard to believe ^^.

Our town is 80% White, 16% Asian, and that doesn't leave much room for anything else. Median family income is close to $200k. The public school is roughly the same.

The private school that we went our kids to, in part for the diversity, has generous financial aid available for academically strong candidates. Ethnic minority students comprise 45% of the student population. International students hail from India, Japan, Singapore, France, and the United Kingdom. The students' SES is also more diverse.

Note that this private school is NOT a Christian school or Catholic school. My personal experience, of a Catholic school for a few years, is that I would not spend money on it.

mac808
Posts: 350
Joined: Mon Sep 19, 2011 8:45 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby mac808 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:15 pm

I don't know how student/teacher ratios translate into classroom sizes, but your kids are very unlikely to learn anything at all in a class with >20 students.

afan
Posts: 2502
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 4:01 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby afan » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:17 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:My personal experience, of a Catholic school for a few years, is that I would not spend money on it.


Depends on your options. There are plenty of parents who are not Catholic but send their kids to Catholic schools because they are better than the public schools available to them.
Last edited by afan on Wed Apr 19, 2017 4:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
We don't know how to beat the market on a risk-adjusted basis, and we don't know anyone that does know either | --Swedroe | We assume that markets are efficient, that prices are right | --Fama

User avatar
TomatoTomahto
Posts: 5740
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:48 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby TomatoTomahto » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:26 pm

afan wrote:
TomatoTomahto wrote:My personal experience, of a Catholic school for a few years, is that I would not spend money on it.


Depends on your options. There are plenty of parents who are not Catholic but send their kids to Catholic schools because they are better than the public schools available to them.

That was my parents' reasoning. Unfortunately, it was not their wisest decision, imo. Well intentioned but unfortunate.

irish17
Posts: 29
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2017 6:14 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby irish17 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:40 pm

I would talk with families in the area and maybe some older students to get their take on what they have liked/not liked about each school.
Also looking at extra curriculum activities which may be offered at each. In my opinion middle school is quite challenging. I know I did better as a student in a smaller setting. I'd also see if your children could visit/tour the private school you are considering and get their feedback. Maybe attend some of the functions of the school and get a better sense of "whole picture". I wish you well.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 10258
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Watty » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:50 am

Roberts111 wrote:The cost is 11k per child.
...
- My salary (gross) - 140k, Stay-at-home wife
- Spending - 5k/month
- Own home outright


With taxes the private schools might use of $30K or so if your income. In effect you would need to live as if you were "only" making $110K a year.

With a paid off house you can easily adjust to living on that income.

As others have said I would be sure to also look at if that is the best use of the money. Over the years that will cost in the ballpark of quarter of a million dollars.

It would also be good to take a hard look at the school to see if the non-religious classes are all that good there. One thing you can look at is to see if the high school has many AP classes.

It has been a long time since I was in school but you should also research the school to make sure that it is the right environment for your kids. Especially at the high school level some private schools can have kids that had problems fitting in in public school so their parents put them in private school, or they even got expelled from public school. There may also be a disproportionate number of the "rich kids" which can also be a problem. That would likely be a small percentage of the private school students but it would be a mistake to assume that everything will be ideal just because it is a private school.

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 15842
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:05 am

mac808 wrote:I don't know how student/teacher ratios translate into classroom sizes, but your kids are very unlikely to learn anything at all in a class with >20 students.


Does your crystal ball tell you what the market is going to close at in 12 years too?

I attended schools that had classroom sizes of greater than 30 kids - public school honor/AP classes. We all turned out for the most part to be quite successful. Guess we were the exception to your rule. :annoyed
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

bloom2708
Posts: 1712
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:08 pm
Location: Fargo, ND

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby bloom2708 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:17 am

mac808 wrote:I don't know how student/teacher ratios translate into classroom sizes, but your kids are very unlikely to learn anything at all in a class with >20 students.


Hmmm. A good majority of people are unlikely to learn anything then. This statement would be false. :confused
"We are here not to please but to provoke thoughtfulness" Unknown Boglehead | | Want to buy something? Watch this first: https://vimeo.com/41152287

ysette9
Posts: 57
Joined: Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:09 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby ysette9 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:24 am

I don't know how student/teacher ratios translate into classroom sizes, but your kids are very unlikely to learn anything at all in a class with >20 students.


That comment caught my eye also. Except for the few years I was home-schooled, some classes at my junior college, and my Russian classes while in France, I think all of my classes throughout my entire school career had more than 20 students in them. I suppose I am another outlier with my honors/AP/academic decalthon/UC Berkeley/Stanford track record....
Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky, like a patient etherized upon a table.

Roberts111
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:54 pm

Re: Can I afford private school for my kids?

Postby Roberts111 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 12:28 pm

After reading comments I thought I should clarify a couple things:
- I live in a large West Coast city so the culture/values difference between a Christian school and public school are more pronounced than many parts of the Country.
- Due to job, family, and other factors I am not planning on moving
- The 5k/mth living expenses includes a high property and sales tax, OOP medical costs toward a high deductible, repairs and fixes around the home, plus the usual expenses of groceries, etc. but no mortgage (since house is paid off).
- The average SAT scores of the private school I am evaluating exceeds the state average by over 300 points. Other metrics plus the curriculum make me believe it is superior academically in addition to the religious benefit.

Thank you everyone for your feedback. Many great ideas and thoughts for me to mull over. I am going to explore the private school option a bit more, but maybe for a year or so out for my oldest. I agree with the poster that said my kid's college fund is underfunded. I will feel more comfortable if that was more padded.


Return to “Personal Finance (Not Investing)”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: bhjjk19, bloom2708, Bonz, bostondan, brennok, CardinalRule, david99, Dek17, EricaInvestPink, FAST Enterprise [Crawler], Gill, gkaplan, hornet96, JW-Retired, kinetic2255, mnnice, NancyABQ, prudent, runner540, sabhen, spammagnet, Steelersfan, TxAg, Yahoo [Bot] and 84 guests