I’ve mentioned before that we’ll be sending the boys to private school when they reach kindergarten age, and I’m a little hesitant to talk about this because you, my valued readers, may very well think less of me for it given the high cost. However, you should know that this wasn’t a decision we made lightly – we thought long and hard about paying somewhere in the neighborhood of $20,000 per year per child if they go to one of the top schools. (The figure goes up to $35,000 for seventh grade and up. No, that’s not a typo.)
We considered other options (and I’ll write about them separately), but it comes down to safety and academics. While we (thankfully) don’t live in a gang-infested neighborhood, we do not live in a gang-free area (is there such a place in LA these days?). And the more distance we can put between our children and gang members the better (without actually moving to a new house – more on that in a forthcoming post also).
Equally important as safety, our local public schools at best have a mediocre academic reputation, while the top private schools send their graduates to the nation’s top colleges. Because my husband and I both received first-class private school educations and attended highly ranked universities, giving our children the same opportunities is a top priority. And I freely admit that comfort level plays a role in our decision – because it is what we know, we think we’ll be more comfortable in a private school environment. And our comfort level will be a huge factor in our children’s comfort level . . . even if the other children’s parents make ten times more than we do.
And speaking of money – yes, we can afford this while still saving enough for retirement, but barely. Obviously, we would have a more comfortable retirement if we directed the tuition money into retirement accounts instead, but according to my calculations, we’ll manage to save enough. In addition to a more cushy retirement, we’ll also be giving up things like a bigger house, vacations, and college savings. My husband and I agreed that paying for college was less of a priority than paying for private school, since there are alternatives for college tuition, like state universities, merit and athletic scholarships, etc. We also agreed that what the boys learn academically and socially during their childhood is much more important than which college they end up attending.
Incidentally, whether our children would attend private or public school is a conversation my husband and I started having before our oldest child was even conceived. This helped tremendously with our financial planning – I’ll also discuss this in more detail in the future, but for now it’s enough to say that a big part of how we will be able to pay for private school is because we have planned ahead.