Private School Sacrifice

Cathy's son is about to enter kindergarten, and to put him in private school will be sacrificial. Should they put him in private school?

QUESTION: Cathy in Dallas and her husband have had their daughter enrolled in private school for six years. Their son is about to enter kindergarten, and to put him in private school will be sacrificial. Should they put him in private school as well? Dave offers some thoughts.

ANSWER: The answer is that it’s a huge strain, and it’s borderline. If it were much more, then I’d say no. You make $100,000 a year, have $15,000 in credit card debt and $20,000 in the bank, along with $100,000 in stocks. You make a lot of money, and you’ve done a very poor job of handling it.

We were facing the same thing when our second child hit kindergarten age. The numbers weren’t a whole lot different. We sold our home and moved to a school district that we liked. Our kids went to public schools. With three kids, we saved $25,000 a year doing that. And our kids are all baptized and walking with God and clean righteous kids who aren’t perfect but are active in their spiritual walk as well as academically performing.

Saying that private school is the only way that can happen is a false premise. Maybe you should look at moving to an area with a school district that’s tolerable if the one you’re in is not. You guys also need to look at making better money decisions anyway. It’s absurd that you make $100,000 a year and have $15,000 in credit card debt. And in the midst of that, you want to add to a strained budget. I think you can pull it off, but you’ll have to straighten up your act in some of these other areas.

Start investing in good mutual funds instead of stocks, because there is too much risk there, and clean up this credit card debt. You’ll have to live on a very tight budget, and I’m not sure the benefit versus the cost is there, especially when you might move to a school district that would work for you.

When we went through this, we discovered that there are no cocoons. There are no spiritually safe places. You have to manage your children’s lives either way. It doesn’t change, and private school doesn’t solve that.