Author Topic: Case Study: 37 Married, 2 kids, High Income, High Expenses, What can we cut?  (Read 5317 times)

joe189man

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Thanks in advance

Life Situation: Married filing jointly, we are both 37, two boys (3.5 and 1.5 yo), we live in an expensive urban area of the western, USA. We live 1.5 miles from my wife’s (CPA Accountant) work and 2.5 miles from my work (Civil Engineer), daycare is 1 mile away and on the way to work. We just recently moved to our current house had have a 4.25% rate on a 30 year note that starts in June, 2019. Parents are in the Midwest.

Gross Salary/Wages: $115,000 Salary plus Bonus and $100,000 Salary plus Bonus.

Total Estimated 2019 Gross = $235K

Individual amounts in pre-tax deductions: 401k – 19k each (one has a profit sharing and the other has a 4% match), max out H.S.A. ($6.9k total), $5k in Dependent Care FSA

No other income, rental income, capital gains, or dividends

2019 Adjusted gross income: ~185K

Taxes: not sure - we always pay in to uncle Sam

Current Monthly Expenses:
•   Mortgage/Property Tax/Insurance - $2,600
•   Daycare - $2,795
•   Car Loan (Honda Odyssey) - $656
•   Student Loan 1 - $325
•   Student Loan 2 - $300
•   Grocery/household – See Left Over
•   Restaurants – See Left Over
•   Education - $1,215 (See Below)
•   Electric/Gas - $150
•   Water/Sewer - $75
•   HOA - $36
•   Auto Insurance - $170
•   Life Insurance - $65 (two $500k policies)
•   Gym - $32
•   Kids Swim Class - $150 (CANCELED)
•   Comcast Internet - $55
•   Verizon 1 – $69 (wife wants to be separate)
•   Verizon 2 - $362 (family plan for 5, $200 is paid to me from family, includes 4 phone contracts, and i pay for 93 yo grandma's phone)
•   Amazon Prime, other TV,  and music (Netflix, hulu, HBO Now, Noggin, Spotify, audible, epic books, apple cloud storage) - ~$90
•   Invisaglin - ~$300 (17 more months, for me to prevent more crowns, not for the kids)

Total Monthly Expenses: ~$9,440

Total Monthly Take Home Income: ~$10,600 (I get paid every two weeks, those extra checks are not included in the monthly so annually our income is about $4400 more)

Total Monthly Money Left Over: ~$1,170 (for food, groceries, household, clothes, saving, etc.)

Assets: Home worth ~$535k, 401k – one at ~$104K and the other at $$118k, ~$15k cash in savings, 2010 Mazda 3 (~$6,000 and not counted in Net worth), random household stuff.

Liabilities: Student Loan 1 - $13k (at 4.75%, Student Loan 2 - $31k (at <3%), 2018 Honda Odyssey - $29,700 (at 1.9%), Mortgage - $416k (at 4.25% for 30yr), Chase Card - $0 (paid off every month for points).

Total real Assets = ~$786K per Personal Capital
Total Liabilities = ~$491K per Personal Capital
Net worth = ~$295k per Personal Capital

Question Background: The education expenses above are due to oldest son, recently he had some behavior issues at pre-school and after some testing it was determined that he’s gifted, (IQ around 130). The education expenses are helping use better support his development, manage behavior, and figure out exactly what we should be doing with him, i.e. best schools, and how best to help develop his talents. The big issue here is the cost which was not anticipated and cut our monthly money leftover basically in half. The costs may be short term but could extend for several years at full (~$1,200) or half rates ($600) (cut back number of sessions per month).

Let me clarify this extra education cost, right now we are scheduled for 4 sessions totaling the $1215. After this the service will provide lots of resources for us to help him and best school options for him based upon his disposition. As of today there are no additional sessions scheduled beyond the initial 4. if we find value in the sessions they may continue. but it would have to be a lot of value, just thinking worst case here.

We are not trying to FIRE soon, or necessarily at all, as we got a late start on saving. I created a retirement spreadsheet before this added expense and it determined that we could retire in our mid to late fifty’s at the latest, while not trying very hard to FIRE. Those calculations included the money spent on daycare to fund the boys’ college funds and supplement our retirement or debt payments. Now it appears that we may need to use those funds to put our son in private school for gifted and talented kids at $15-25K a year (hopefully he cures cancer).

The wife is not parting with the van, so please don’t go there. My car could go though…

Question: what’s the best place to reduce expenses to give us some breathing room in our monthly budget?  Previously we had in the ~$2,500 range in left over money to pay extra on debt, build our cash reserve, or do small projects around the house, now it’s pretty tight.

Thanks

Joe189man
« Last Edit: June 03, 2019, 11:35:38 AM by joe189man »

slow hand slow plan

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Sorry i have to go there. ....That car loan is killing you. Hopefully daycare costs will drop soon when the kids start school. Your phone bills are out of control and so are all of the subscriptions. You need to track your expenses better. That "leftover money" category is super high.

LifeHappens

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Yeah, if the education expenses and the car loan are not negotiable, that doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room. The other line items that stick out are:
  • Phones - if your wife wants to keep hers nothing you can do about that, but your phone bill is way too high for 5 lines. There are a ton of companies that can get you 5 lines with lots of data for under $200.
  • Swim lessons - those are pricey! How long is that going to continue?
  • All the subscriptions. I don't even know what some of those things are. Do you absolutely need all of them?

scantee

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The idea that you need to be paying $1200/mo so that your gifted child can get extra education (what even is this?) is ridiculous. Certainly there are things you can be doing at home to foster his learning. Honestly this expense is so much, and seems so unnecessary, it almost feels like you are being grifted.  “Yes, yes, your genius child MUST have this extra education or he’ll wither...it only costs $1200. If you REALLY care about him you’ll pay it...”

Also the car is ridiculous.

Look, you have a typical American lifestyle at this point. You’ll probably be fine as long as you work until traditional retirement age. But you’ve got to cut some of these big expenses if you want to save more. It just comes down to priorities. If the education and car are more important to you than saving more, then just make peace with that, save what you can, and just try not to go into more debt.

secondcor521

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Various thoughts:

1.  Is your withholding set properly?  It looks like you're probably withholding about $4K-$5K per month for federal and state, which is probably in the ballpark but maybe a bit high.

2.  Get your wife on board with the monthly budgeting process.  It should not be a one person show, and reading between the lines it sounds like it might be just you.  You also need to figure out if you're in the same general ballpark on goals and the current situation - if she doesn't care about the budget tightness and you do, then you need to compromise or get on the same page before the money stuff will work out.

3.  The oldest son's educational expenses are where I would look to cut first.  I was gifted, my two sisters were gifted, and between the three of us we have nine gifted kids.  My parents just did a lot of enrichment stuff with us before we started school - library, parks, museums, field trip type stuff.  Lots of reading and talking and creating and learning.  We ended up with five college degrees between us, and two of us were accepted to Ivy League and Stanford.  It doesn't have to cost $1,215 per month, even in an expensive western state.  My daughter did well in Montessori, so you could look into nearby Montessori places (maybe he's already in one).

4.  Is daycare for the other one really $2,795?  Wowzers.  For that money you could maybe hire an au pair.  Look around the neighborhood for a SAHM or grandmother type that you can trust with your kid.  It seems like this could be a lot lower.  Or at that rate, have one of you quit your job, stay at home, and watch two other kids and you'd make about the same take home after accounting for job-related expenses.

5.  The van.  Yes, I know you said don't go there, but I don't follow instructions sometimes.  If your wife won't part with a Honda Odyssey, then maybe trade it in on a 2000 Honda Odyssey.  Make sure if you go with an older one that the transmission is in good order - Honda Odysseys are known for transmission problems.

6.  Sell your car, cancel the insurance on it.  Walk or bike to work, or carpool with your wife.

Overall, though, you're probably in above average shape for where you are in life.  It'll probably mostly depend on the choices you make in the next five years.  One path would have you replace the Invisalign bill with a car lease, increase your lifestyle when you get raises, and use the daycare savings to put your kids in private elementary school or to travel more or whatever.  Oh, and maybe some nicer clothes when the student loan payments go away.  Another path would see those Invisalign payments and raises and student loan payments and daycare savings go into maxing Roth IRAs on January 1st every year, taxable investments, paying down your college debt and mortgage, and/or saving for your sons' college expenses.  And then there's anywhere in between those two extremes.

It really mostly comes down to your wife and you sitting down and deciding what you want your future to look like and then making decisions that align with that vision.

Hirondelle

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Total Monthly Money Left Over: ~$1,170 (for food, groceries, household, clothes, saving, etc.)


This category stands out to me. So you've only got about 10% of your income left and that still has to go to food/restaurants/household etc. How much of that money gets actually spent? Please specify this further because that may be another couple hundred bucks a month you could save.

Also; I agree with others that you don't need a minivan for 2 kids, esp not a brand new one.

You also don't need a $1200/month expense for a high IQ kid. Extracurricular activities and extra enrichment at home sure, but what kind of stuff do you get for $1200/month??

joe189man

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The idea that you need to be paying $1200/mo so that your gifted child can get extra education (what even is this?) is ridiculous. Certainly there are things you can be doing at home to foster his learning. Honestly this expense is so much, and seems so unnecessary, it almost feels like you are being grifted.  “Yes, yes, your genius child MUST have this extra education or he’ll wither...it only costs $1200. If you REALLY care about him you’ll pay it...”

This expense maybe short lived, its an outside service that helps come up with a game plan for the child's development and recommends area schools that would be a best fit for them. Each session is 2 hours at $140/hr once a week. Its basically experts in kids telling us what we should do and what we can do better. if after a month we don't find value in it, it can be canceled or scaled way back. The service was recommended by the psychologist that did the initial testing.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2019, 03:34:50 PM by joe189man »

joe189man

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Various thoughts:

1.  Is your withholding set properly?  It looks like you're probably withholding about $4K-$5K per month for federal and state, which is probably in the ballpark but maybe a bit high.

2.  Get your wife on board with the monthly budgeting process.  It should not be a one person show, and reading between the lines it sounds like it might be just you.  You also need to figure out if you're in the same general ballpark on goals and the current situation - if she doesn't care about the budget tightness and you do, then you need to compromise or get on the same page before the money stuff will work out.

3.  The oldest son's educational expenses are where I would look to cut first.  I was gifted, my two sisters were gifted, and between the three of us we have nine gifted kids.  My parents just did a lot of enrichment stuff with us before we started school - library, parks, museums, field trip type stuff.  Lots of reading and talking and creating and learning.  We ended up with five college degrees between us, and two of us were accepted to Ivy League and Stanford.  It doesn't have to cost $1,215 per month, even in an expensive western state.  My daughter did well in Montessori, so you could look into nearby Montessori places (maybe he's already in one).

4.  Is daycare for the other one really $2,795?  Wowzers.  For that money you could maybe hire an au pair.  Look around the neighborhood for a SAHM or grandmother type that you can trust with your kid.  It seems like this could be a lot lower.  Or at that rate, have one of you quit your job, stay at home, and watch two other kids and you'd make about the same take home after accounting for job-related expenses.

5.  The van.  Yes, I know you said don't go there, but I don't follow instructions sometimes.  If your wife won't part with a Honda Odyssey, then maybe trade it in on a 2000 Honda Odyssey.  Make sure if you go with an older one that the transmission is in good order - Honda Odysseys are known for transmission problems.

6.  Sell your car, cancel the insurance on it.  Walk or bike to work, or carpool with your wife.

Overall, though, you're probably in above average shape for where you are in life.  It'll probably mostly depend on the choices you make in the next five years.  One path would have you replace the Invisalign bill with a car lease, increase your lifestyle when you get raises, and use the daycare savings to put your kids in private elementary school or to travel more or whatever.  Oh, and maybe some nicer clothes when the student loan payments go away.  Another path would see those Invisalign payments and raises and student loan payments and daycare savings go into maxing Roth IRAs on January 1st every year, taxable investments, paying down your college debt and mortgage, and/or saving for your sons' college expenses.  And then there's anywhere in between those two extremes.

It really mostly comes down to your wife and you sitting down and deciding what you want your future to look like and then making decisions that align with that vision.

wife is on board, she reviewed the post
$2,800 a month is daycare for both boys, this likely wont change till they go to school due to the proximity to our home and work
i will discuss the van with the wife, i pray i live to post again after that discussion
selling my car is a real possibility
i found MMM on the Tim Ferriss podcast before our second son was born and felt like i was cheated out of knowing that i could retire early, after that we paid off lots of silly debts and were in great shape when the second boy was born. We have been on the same page about priorities now for a while.

Cassie

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Public schools have gifted and talented programs.

joe189man

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Sorry i have to go there. ....That car loan is killing you. Hopefully daycare costs will drop soon when the kids start school. Your phone bills are out of control and so are all of the subscriptions. You need to track your expenses better. That "leftover money" category is super high.

To me this seemed really low, and prompted my post. i have all of our spending in personal capital, i think it needs to be reviewed with a fine tooth comb.

prior to the extra education costs, we had plenty to pay extras on several debts and save.

we can cut several subscriptions here, and i maybe able split the phones with the other family better to pay less on my end

Car is expensive, we bought the van for a few reasons: 1) with two car seats in wife's last car my knees were against the dash and it wasn't safe ( i researched the biggest cars for tall guys before we settled on the minivan) and 2) we previously have had very good luck with new cars and have kept them for for their full life cycles and figured one of the boys could take it to college.  and 3) we travel to the midwest a few times a year to see parents and grand parents and have lots of stuff to travel with. i know the 3rd reason is weak

i wont fit in the front seats of my 2010 mazda 3 hatchback with the car seats in

better late

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I respect that you are putting in some time and resources now to learn about your older son’s learning style and abilities, and you’re probably trying to wrap your head around what this gifted label means. Remember the road is long. Many years of schooling ahead when you might want to deploy funds when the “slow” pace in elementary might make him hate school. Or in ms/HS when he’s still not having to work too much and hasn’t developed any of the study skills.

StarBright

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I'm going to be the outlier on the education for gifted son. If your son is exhibiting behavior issues in pre-school due to giftedness and other potential complications (often known as 2e) - then I think you should absolutely be looking into this now before he starts elementary school. It will ultimately be more mustachian in the long run ("ask me how I know" says the lady whose son was just recommended for equine therapy :))

I'll caveat and say if it is just "enrichment" then it might not be worth it, but if you are also getting social skills classes, occupational therapy, sensory integration, help with emotional regulation, etc (things that are often VERY beneficial for a gifted kid with behavior problems), then getting on top of it now is in everyone's interest.

For finances I'd look at cutting phone, subscriptions, and do some real analysis of your food and "leftover" money and see if you can go lower on the food for the summer, don't renew kids swim lessons when it is time. If the van and child care are non-negotiable you are going to have to make tiny, squeezy cuts.

-Mom of a 2E 1st grader.

Freedomin5

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Public schools have gifted and talented programs.

^This. You do not need to pay to have your son attend a private school for the gifts and talented. If your son is gifted, he can attend a FREE school for the gifted and talented. Which may actually expose him to a more culturally diverse student population than an expensive preppy private school.

And you can learn a lot from reading books about raising a gifted child. And then implementing the strategies yourself. And also read books about dealing with the specific behavioral issues your son is experiencing.

affordablehousing

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I think you are doing ok, and I'd say you might be able to make more progress looking to increase the income side of things. Your income, assuming you have a PE seems pretty low for a western metro area. Engineers are SUPER in demand and maybe you could moonlight or open your own studio to boost some income. Yeah the van could go, yes I think any money spent on your son, if it helps is worth it. Do you have any family that can provide childcare? That would be my only other idea to drop from daycare to part time nannyshare and family care.

cchrissyy

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I don't get how the cell phone family plan for you plus 4 relatives has you paying $160 and them chipping in $200.

Or

given that system, why aren't y'all sharing netflix, hulu, hbo etc.   I know you are not supposed to but it is a super common thing to do and I would think the kind of family who is comfortable joining together on a phone plan is exactly the same family who would pitch in to help with your netflix and/or would let you use their account so you can cancel the expense.


on the educational side, I want to echo the caution said above - there really are folks who will say your kid needs services so that you, as good parents, will pay them to provide such services. It's flattering, and it's intimidating, and you feel like you need a guide, and you know your kid is worth it. but the entire thing may be unnecessary and it could even be a trick to separate you from your money. Be skeptical!

Freedomin5

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on the educational side, I want to echo the caution said above - there really are folks who will say your kid needs services so that you, as good parents, will pay them to provide such services. It's flattering, and it's intimidating, and you feel like you need a guide, and you know your kid is worth it. but the entire thing may be unnecessary and it could even be a trick to separate you from your money. Be skeptical!

Yes, especially if your kid is on the gifted end of the spectrum and not on the delayed end of the spectrum. This is coming from a person who is in a gifted family (my sisters and I all tested gifted) and who works with gifted (and non-gifted) kids in a school setting. Yes, we need freedom and flexibility to explore beyond the scope of the typical curriculum, which may require teachers with the right personality and additional training. And we may need additional support on the social/emotional side of things.  No, we do not need specialists treating us like special snowflakes.

Bernard

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It's almost overwhelming for me to grasp all of this, but you are paying $3,950 per month, or $47,400 annually, for your kids' storage and entertainment alone. Now add to this the Asian van payment, and you are exceeding the medium family income in the United States already. Thank the gods you don't have two gifted children, or three.
It boggles my mind . . .

Villanelle

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The idea that you need to be paying $1200/mo so that your gifted child can get extra education (what even is this?) is ridiculous. Certainly there are things you can be doing at home to foster his learning. Honestly this expense is so much, and seems so unnecessary, it almost feels like you are being grifted.  “Yes, yes, your genius child MUST have this extra education or he’ll wither...it only costs $1200. If you REALLY care about him you’ll pay it...”

This expense maybe short lived, its an outside service that helps come up with a game plan for the child's development and recommends area schools that would be a best fit for them. Each session is 2 hours at $140/hr once a week. Its basically experts in kids telling us what we should do and what we can do better. if after a month we don't find value in it, it can be canceled or scaled way back. The service was recommended by the psychologist that did the initial testing.

I haven't read all the responses but this stands out as grossly unnecessary, to the point you are being taken advantage of.  Find out which schools in the area have gifted programs, and talk with other parents about them.  See if you qualify for an IEP.  I'm guessing you have health insurance so you can address the behavior (and maybe also get help with the IEP process) from a therapist and or psychologist and pay far less than you are now. 

For the 5 phone plan, why are you only getting $200?  That means you are paying more than $100/mo for your own service.  If they can't or won't pay more, then they can't afford it and they need to figure something else out.   

If you wife MUST have an Odyssey, she can have an older one.  It may help to remind her that every dollar you save now is another dollar available to make your kids' future better, whether that means helping with college or even just giving them the massively generous gift of not having to worry about you in their future.  As someone with one set of aging parents who were frugal and are more than set for life, and who has some older people in her life who don't have that circumstance, I can tell you that it is a huge burden that you can avoid giving your kids.  That sort of perspective may help with making the cuts that feel uncomfortable. 

Also, no matter what care she gets, you should both consider biking to work.  (A trailer can cart the kids to daycare.)

It sounds like you are already seriously considering selling your car.  Do it.  In addition to saving the money for the actual car, you will spend less on gas, insurance, maintenance, etc. 

Do you typically get a large tax refund?  If so, consider adjusting your withholding. 

Cassie

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2 of my 3 kids were gifted and went to a gifted program in public school. One of my kids had a low average IQ with some behavioral issues and his needs were much higher.

secondcor521

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I haven't read all the responses but this stands out as grossly unnecessary, to the point you are being taken advantage of.  Find out which schools in the area have gifted programs, and talk with other parents about them.  See if you qualify for an IEP.  I'm guessing you have health insurance so you can address the behavior (and maybe also get help with the IEP process) from a therapist and or psychologist and pay far less than you are now. 

The OP's gifted kid is 3.5 years old.

Kyle Schuant

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How do you measure the IQ of a 3.5yo?

Someone's being milked, here.

OneCoolCat

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It's painfully obvious but we were told not to go there...

Hirondelle

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Sorry i have to go there. ....That car loan is killing you. Hopefully daycare costs will drop soon when the kids start school. Your phone bills are out of control and so are all of the subscriptions. You need to track your expenses better. That "leftover money" category is super high.

To me this seemed really low, and prompted my post. i have all of our spending in personal capital, i think it needs to be reviewed with a fine tooth comb.

prior to the extra education costs, we had plenty to pay extras on several debts and save.

we can cut several subscriptions here, and i maybe able split the phones with the other family better to pay less on my end

Car is expensive, we bought the van for a few reasons: 1) with two car seats in wife's last car my knees were against the dash and it wasn't safe (i researched the biggest cars for tall guys before we settled on the minivan) and 2) we previously have had very good luck with new cars and have kept them for for their full life cycles and figured one of the boys could take it to college.  and 3) we travel to the midwest a few times a year to see parents and grand parents and have lots of stuff to travel with. i know the 3rd reason is weak

i wont fit in the front seats of my 2010 mazda 3 hatchback with the car seats in

Ok look. I have no clue how tall you are so maybe you are some insane 6"10 or so, but I'm literally from the country with the tallest people in the world. Like, young guys seem to be 6"3' on average. Yet, NOBODY, I repeat, NOBODY that I know has a minivan because they have two kids. I don't know what car seats in the USA look like vs the ones in Europe, but the problem you describe here doesn't seem to exist here. And our cars are much, much smaller (yes, I've been to the USA extensively, I've seen your cars).

Beyond that, how often are you really all 4 together in the van? You don't need it for commute or to get to daycare so that basically leaves the weekends for potential 4 people trips.

Then to address point 2. How many non-new cars did you have in your life? You say you've had good luck with driving new cars into the ground, but considering you're 37, that must've been a maximum of 2 cars (1 for each of you). If they died so much earlier that you've had more, I wouldn't consider it that much good luck. If you've never tried a used car in your life (or only a beater car in college), you basically try to avoid the unknown. Who said the used car wouldn't have been as good or even better than the new ones, for a lower price?

reeshau

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How do you measure the IQ of a 3.5yo?

Someone's being milked, here.

While it's generally accepted that precise IQ is difficult to measure under age 6, getting close enough to identify giftedness is very doable.

It becomes much easier to spot when the 3-year-old can read the questions...
« Last Edit: May 24, 2019, 02:02:00 AM by reeshau »

Kyle Schuant

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It's a tossup whether middle-class parents like best being told their child has an obscure disease or mental condition, or that they're gifted. Either way they get milked.

StarBright

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It's a tossup whether middle-class parents like best being told their child has an obscure disease or mental condition, or that they're gifted. Either way they get milked.

meh- anyone who knows anything about it probably doesn't hope that their children are gifted (or at least not beyond the moderately gifted level). Gifted individuals are much more likely than the average population to deal with depression, anxiety, adhd, OCD, and other co-morbid issues that frequently come hand in hand with giftedness. My understanding is that the more gifted the individual, the higher likelihood of co-occurring disorders. 

Regarding height, van and childseats, if the car seat is forward facing (and with a 3.5 year old it should be at this point), there should be no issue fitting in a Corolla or Civic unless the OP is 6'4" or taller - Minivan is overkill. We did car seats in a Corolla and my DH is 6'2". We have also made 10-15 hour road trips in the car and it has been fine. Sorry OP - the minivan is killing you. However, if it is your wife's hill to die on, you are just going to have to find other things to cut.

After seeing the additional detail of the gifted service provided, I'm not sure how this would be even useful beyond a few sessions (sounds like it is essentially a gifted referral service), so I agree that the OP should cancel this as soon as possible.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 05:56:45 PM by StarBright »

Trifele

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Public schools have gifted and talented programs.

^This. You do not need to pay to have your son attend a private school for the gifts and talented. If your son is gifted, he can attend a FREE school for the gifted and talented. Which may actually expose him to a more culturally diverse student population than an expensive preppy private school.

And you can learn a lot from reading books about raising a gifted child. And then implementing the strategies yourself. And also read books about dealing with the specific behavioral issues your son is experiencing.

SOME public schools have GAT programs, not all.  OP, I don't think it's unreasonable to talk to the consultant a couple of times to get a handle on your son's needs and the educational options in your area -- which schools have which resources -- but then I agree with the other posters that you should cut that expense. 


Villanelle

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I haven't read all the responses but this stands out as grossly unnecessary, to the point you are being taken advantage of.  Find out which schools in the area have gifted programs, and talk with other parents about them.  See if you qualify for an IEP.  I'm guessing you have health insurance so you can address the behavior (and maybe also get help with the IEP process) from a therapist and or psychologist and pay far less than you are now. 

The OP's gifted kid is 3.5 years old.

All the more reason this is utterly unnecessary then.  And a psychologist paid for via insurance can likely still help with behavior issues and recommendations for enrichment activities done at home.

And OP did say that part of this program was to help find schools with programs.  I guess maybe that meant pre-schools?  So talking with local parents can still help identify those. 

doingfine

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Welcome to the forum and to learning how to re-set priorities in your life. The stage you are in now will be the most difficult, because you are going to change the trajectory of your life, you will need to come to grips with giving up some of the trappings of a 'successful modern American life'. The good news is, that once you start, it gets a lot easier, and soon you will come to appreciate watching your savings grow much more than the material things spending that money would have bought in the past.

So, the big two purchases that trap most people into a life as an indentured servant are housing and cars. If you are in a HCOL city, it looks like you are doing ok on the housing end of that. Don't get caught up thinking you need an upgrade any time soon. On the cars though, you've got a great big iron chain shackled to your ankle right now that is looking to keep you firmly attached to the 9-5 grind. I don't know that you should get rid of this particular vehicle. You will likely end up with a very unhappy wife and take a significant loss on the transaction costs as well. However, it is important that both of you understand the true impact of making such an extravagant purchase - while you are still paying off student loan debt when any $3000 vehicle will do 99% of the same job. A true Mustachian pays cash for vehicles. That does not mean all of us drive older beaters. New cars can be paid for in cash by relatively normal people. Realizing the truth in that statement may take a while, but you'll know you're off the treadmill once it has.

I won't speak too much on the educational choices, other than to offer that it seems a pretty far stretch to label a 3 year old gifted. It's also a major extravagance to be allocating $15k in your budget based on that assessment.

Your auto insurance seems reasonable for having a new car on there, but watch this expense. It should be shopped around every 24 months for an easy savings.

$231 for phones for two adults is insane. I think we are on a crazy plan at about $100/month for two of us. It could be $50 on pre-paid for the same service. Why does your wife need a separate plan at major additional cost? I suspect there are probably a couple of phone loans in there as well. Once those are paid off, use the phones a minimum of 2 additional years for savings in the thousands of dollars.

I would really assess you need for all of those subscriptions. Look at every one closely. Get a library card. A surprising amount of digital content is available from your library for free (ebooks and audio books, newspaper and magazine subscriptions, etc).

Generally you are on the right track but I'd suggest you really try to get out of the habit of financing everything. That's the trap. You want to reverse the situation so that instead of paying banks every month to lend you money - you are paying yourself those payments every month in advance of actually needing to spend it, letting the bank pay you, and then when you need to pay for something (new car, a year's worth of school tuition, braces, etc) you pay for it in full out of your savings. This is how you build wealth in the long term.

Best of luck!


reeshau

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And OP did say that part of this program was to help find schools with programs.  I guess maybe that meant pre-schools?  So talking with local parents can still help identify those.

Nope--schools.  As a parent of a now-4-year-old, gifted student, this was one issue when I moved to Ireland.  In general, there is very little gifted programming here.  What there is, begins at age 6.  Given that there is a lot of runway for kids this young (meaning, they are "ahead of grade," not doing independent research) then schooling is an option, as long as the school follows a flexible methodology, i.e. International Baccalaureate or Montessori.

My son started kindergarten at 3.5 years old.  But we have to pay for a private school.  Otherwise, he will be set to play with toys at preschool for another two years.  He taught himself to read at age 2.  (and, an early 2)  He was and is ready for more. 

OP, the best advice on parenting a gifted child is to educate yourself.  You will need to advocate for them, and will need to put together a patchwork of material / help / activities / experiences that best match them.  Check out Hoagie's Gifted, for a good starting website.  I highly recommend "Giftedness 101" and "A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children."

cchrissyy

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Quote
OP, I don't think it's unreasonable to talk to the consultant a couple of times to get a handle on your son's needs and the educational options in your area -- which schools have which resources -- but then I agree with the other posters that you should cut that expense. 

Yes, even if you really like the consultant, please treat it as a one time thing. a couple sessions. one month. not an ongoing expense!   I can see the value in somebody helping get you oriented to resources and schools when you feel overwhelmed. but I also see huge risk that they steer you into expensive solutions. private schools. other consultants. it will never end.

joe189man

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It's almost overwhelming for me to grasp all of this, but you are paying $3,950 per month, or $47,400 annually, for your kids' storage and entertainment alone. Now add to this the Asian van payment, and you are exceeding the medium family income in the United States already. Thank the gods you don't have two gifted children, or three.
It boggles my mind . . .

my wife and i came from humble beginnings and the idea that we pay $2,800 dollars a month for daycare (more that the mortgage to purchase a half a million dollar house) blows our minds every day, every day...


joe189man

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i updated the original post to clarify the education cost as a scheduled 4 session only expense, but it has the option to be extended if the value is there.

the OP was also updated to clarify the phones, but everyone's points are valid, we have new iphones, on contracts, i will look into getting out of paying the bulk of this or split the service up and combine the wife's to save a few bucks

The van..., we still have 1 kid rear facing, which makes the front seat almost unusable in most cars if you are 5'6" or more, beyond that its nice and wife likes it..., it was never purchased with FIRE in mind, only as a safe, reliable care we can have for 15+ years. I may still bring this up and see what we could do to get out from under it.

As for my son, i have no idea what testing a psychologist can do to figure out a kid is gifted, has ADHD or anything else. we trust that their education leads them to make the right decisions just like i would use in any engineering design. i knew there was something going on with him but i never guessed the testing outcome. i figured we needed to move to the country and get a farm and have him run all day to burn the energy off. i think any parent would do what ever they could to best provide for their children. we are being cautious with this, and thorough.

The school recommendations are for kindergarten and beyond. we have researched many surrounding schools and across our metro area already, and will start checking them out after the service makes their recommendations.

Thank you all for the book recommendations and related stories, very helpful

To summarize the budget recommendations so far: get rid of the van, cut swim class, cut subscriptions, cut the extra education expense, figure out the phones, ride bikes to work and daycare, make more money.

That could free up ~$1800+ dollars
Gracias

jeroly

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If you aren't particularly focused on retiring early, then the overall savings rate is fine at around 20% (is there any additional company match?). However, you seem to be spending lots of bucks on things that aren't efficiently using what $$ you have available and could go for other things like vacations, entertainment, eating out, etc.

1.  I'd pay off the 4.75% student loan ASAP - paying down that loan is like getting a risk-free return of 4.75% which is way higher than you could get on the open market.

2.  Separate out the costs of the actual phones (think of them as a sunk cost and plan to use them for three or more years, replacing them with phones that cost $300 or so when they're dead) and figure out how much you're spending on the service alone.  If you're paying more than about $25/line (and I'm guessing that you are) then you can save $$$ by switching to something like Mint or Republic Wireless.

3.  YMCAs have great swim classes for kids that aren't insanely expensive like the ones you're paying for now.  Plan to switch when the current batch of sessions is over.

4.  At $2K/year your auto insurance seems really high.  Raise your deductibles to the max / drop collision and comprehensive on the older vehicle (and on the newer one after it's five years old or so), and if that doesn't bring it down a lot, shop around with other insurers as well.

5.  I agree with what's been said previously about the 'education' expense - I have concerns about your being 'ripped off.'  While it's possibly true that your child can benefit from additional enrichment activities, they shouldn't necessarily be expensive.  Lots of options are out there, from museum-based classes in art and science to free (or cheap) after-school programs.  If the child is experiencing behavioral problems due to lack of intellectual stimulation and these don't redress the issues, then psychologists can be booked which will likely be at least partly covered by your existing insurance.  If you are in a HCOL area there's a high probability that there are gifted and talented programs provided free of charge in your public school system.

6.  To super-charge your retirement savings, think of yourself as living super-comfortably at your current spending level, and don't boost your spending over time.  Instead, save every bonus, raise, surprise tax refund, etc., instead of using them as reasons for 'celebrations.'  If you do that your savings rate will skyrocket and you'll be in fantastic shape for both an earlier retirement as well as funding your kids' college educations way ahead of time! 

Villanelle

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And OP did say that part of this program was to help find schools with programs.  I guess maybe that meant pre-schools?  So talking with local parents can still help identify those.

Nope--schools.  As a parent of a now-4-year-old, gifted student, this was one issue when I moved to Ireland.  In general, there is very little gifted programming here.  What there is, begins at age 6.  Given that there is a lot of runway for kids this young (meaning, they are "ahead of grade," not doing independent research) then schooling is an option, as long as the school follows a flexible methodology, i.e. International Baccalaureate or Montessori.

My son started kindergarten at 3.5 years old.  But we have to pay for a private school.  Otherwise, he will be set to play with toys at preschool for another two years.  He taught himself to read at age 2.  (and, an early 2)  He was and is ready for more. 

OP, the best advice on parenting a gifted child is to educate yourself.  You will need to advocate for them, and will need to put together a patchwork of material / help / activities / experiences that best match them.  Check out Hoagie's Gifted, for a good starting website.  I highly recommend "Giftedness 101" and "A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children."

I'm not sure how what you are saying is different than what I'm saying.  The kid is 3--not in regular schools.  If this info is about regular schools, the child won't be in those for a couple years so the info could easily change and it's thus stilly to pay for it now.  it it's for schools now, then that would actually be pre-schools because a 3yo is not in school.  Most schools will not accept a 3yo, no matter how gifted, into kindergarden.  A private school *might*, but then the OP is also looking at private school tuition, a huge expense not currently covered. 

reeshau

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And OP did say that part of this program was to help find schools with programs.  I guess maybe that meant pre-schools?  So talking with local parents can still help identify those.

Nope--schools.  As a parent of a now-4-year-old, gifted student, this was one issue when I moved to Ireland.  In general, there is very little gifted programming here.  What there is, begins at age 6.  Given that there is a lot of runway for kids this young (meaning, they are "ahead of grade," not doing independent research) then schooling is an option, as long as the school follows a flexible methodology, i.e. International Baccalaureate or Montessori.

My son started kindergarten at 3.5 years old.  But we have to pay for a private school.  Otherwise, he will be set to play with toys at preschool for another two years.  He taught himself to read at age 2.  (and, an early 2)  He was and is ready for more. 

OP, the best advice on parenting a gifted child is to educate yourself.  You will need to advocate for them, and will need to put together a patchwork of material / help / activities / experiences that best match them.  Check out Hoagie's Gifted, for a good starting website.  I highly recommend "Giftedness 101" and "A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children."

I'm not sure how what you are saying is different than what I'm saying.  The kid is 3--not in regular schools.  If this info is about regular schools, the child won't be in those for a couple years so the info could easily change and it's thus stilly to pay for it now.  it it's for schools now, then that would actually be pre-schools because a 3yo is not in school.  Most schools will not accept a 3yo, no matter how gifted, into kindergarden.  A private school *might*, but then the OP is also looking at private school tuition, a huge expense not currently covered.

My point is that I thought @joe189man  was talking about "real" school, because pre-school was causing his son to be bored.  I also found myself in this situation.  Joe did later clarify they are talking about kindergarten.  And yes, public schools won't accept pupils this early, so in general the only option to keep his son challenged and happy is a private school.  It's much less of a "choice" than many of the more casual observers have assumed.  At least, the choice of pre-school until you wait for a normal entry to school is not a good one.  The other choice may be to begin home schooling, immediately.

red_pill

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Question: what’s the best place to reduce expenses to give us some breathing room in our monthly budget? 



Okay, so if your goal is breathing room (and not necessarily maximizing returns), here's my suggestions just for the low hanging fruit.

1)  Pay off the $13K student loan with your cash savings.   = $325/month room

2)  Cut kid's swim classes (no idea what kind of swim classes cost $150/month, seems high.  it's a life skill but one that can be acquired very easily and rapidly when they are a bit older = $150 / month breathing room

3)  Get rid of the Mazda 3.  You know you should.  That would replenish your cash reserves a bit and save, what, $70/month of insurance (I'm assuming the $170 is for van and car and van is more to insure)  = $70/month breathing room.

4) Cancel half of those subscriptions.  = $40 of breathing room

5)  Transition your "left over" spending to totally cash.  Seriously, that credit card you are using for points is sucking you in.  It's WAY harder mentally to take cash out of a wallet and hand it over than it is to swipe a card and convince yourself you're earning points.   My wife and I take out a set amount of cash every pay day and usually that allowance lasts for weeks on end - even though we could spend it and still be on-budget, we don't, which frees up a ton of cash.  I bet your $1,170 would go down to $900 easily.   Seriously, try going cash - I'd be very interested if it works for you as well as it did for us.   Added bonus is we don't have to spend a lot of time budgeting a million different categories.  If there's no money in the wallet, it doesn't get bought.  Estimate $200 of breathing room

Anyway, those are the things I would look at.  I'm not a great mustachian by any means and have a ton of improvement to do, and you have motivated me to take another look at things. 

Good luck!

brooklynmoney

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I would guess you would be an under accumulator of wealth based on high salaries and low savings according to the Millionaire Next Door formula and really just by the eyeball test. I would not feel comfortable with that level of savings at that age but I also don’t have 2 young children so I guess you are not focused on saving right now. Hopefully once kids out of daycare you can send them to public school.

SimpleCycle

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OP, does your 3.5 year old have behavior problems at home too?  Honestly, I’d look into managing the behavior more directly.  If you can find a place that does Parent Child Interaction Therapy, it would be covered by insurance and should generalize to school.  I’m highly suspicious of the giftedness equals behavior problems narrative.  Usually behavior problems are behavior problems, regardless of IQ.  I say this as the parent of a gifted 4 year old with behavior problems.  I also don’t think gifted means you need private school.

Do you have a travel budget?  I don’t see one and you say your family is in the Midwest.

I’m 5’8” and have two rear facing in a Honda Fit.  With one forward facing and the right car seats, you absolutely don’t need a van.  You might decide to keep it, but it’s not a need.  It’s also the easiest place to find breathing room in your budget.

Does your parks department do swim lessons?  We pay $23 per 6 week session through the parks department.  You can also look into the Y for swim lessons.

Honestly I think the thing that will help you the most is getting in the habit of questioning the necessity of “standard” expenses.  You have $90 of subscriptions A MONTH.  Zero of those are necessary, and two or three of those sounds luxurious  to me.  But now you’re used to having them all, and $90 worth of media consumption seems normal to you.  As the kids get older, you’ll face this over and over.  Travel soccer, music lessons, private school.  Those are all “standard” in some circles, but absolutely optional.  You need to train yourself to see optional expenses as choices you are making, because that is what they are.

fuzzy math

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Google is your friend. Type in "________ (your school district) gifted program".

The end. Whatever your district offers is what you will get unless you want to put him in private school or move to a different school district. Both of those options require money and you'd be better off saving for those options than paying a school tour guide counselor for pre-k.

I say this as a parent of 3 gifted children. I don't know what kind of shit these people are telling you about what your 3.5 yr old should be doing now or later, but basically despite their intelligence their maturity level is still going to be on par with that of a 3.5 yr old. The basic premise is that learning should be fun and they learn best by playing. Take your kiddo to the library, get him books, read the entire kid's section (my first kid did this). Also take your kid to the free story, art or music times and let him be a 3.5 yr old and dance with the other kiddos. Sign your kiddo up for some sort of music lesson because it will help his brain form connections. Music is supposedly the only discipline that engages all types of learning. Montessori school is also great for gifted kiddos because they can progress at their own pace and choose level and interest appropriate learning. Again you can google Montessori schools without ever paying for someone to print a list off the internet for you.

The behavioral issues are likely unrelated to the giftedness (other than the co-morbidities of mental issues in the gifted listed above). Again though he's only 3.5 and not really mature enough to behave. 130 is not so gifted to the point that his regular life is being negatively affected by his lack of extraordinary educational resources. For reference, entrance into the program in my local school district requires a 128. My kiddo's tests scores that I know of were 134 (99th percentile) and the other was just listed as 99th percentile, and the age appropriate stuff I listed above worked well for them. If your kid was 190 and he had mastered the violin and self taught 2 languages already, I think you'd be wise to seek out the service. At 130 your kid is not a savant however. You might be wise to continue with some sort of medical therapy or psychology or psychiatry services if your kid is acting out beyond what a pediatrician considers in the realm of normal for their age. Look for books on parenting high needs children.

Intelligence tests at 3.5 are highly unreliable. I recently had a conversation with the head of my school district's gifted school and she told me that they didn't offer services until 3rd grade previously because IQ tests were not reliable until age 8. Now they test them as kindergartners, many lack the maturity to perform well and have to be retested at later grades. They use a 2 step process, starting with the NNAT3 (this is a test that MENSA uses as a substitute for their entrance exam) and following up with the WISC. I've also seen the IOWA exam and others in different school districts where they don't test until age 7 or 8 for the reasons I listed above about the reliability of younger ages. So, in summary, a fool and his money are soon parted.... Don't be that fool.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 07:33:21 PM by fuzzy math »

Gremlin

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As for my son, i have no idea what testing a psychologist can do to figure out a kid is gifted, has ADHD or anything else. we trust that their education leads them to make the right decisions just like i would use in any engineering design. i knew there was something going on with him but i never guessed the testing outcome. i figured we needed to move to the country and get a farm and have him run all day to burn the energy off. i think any parent would do what ever they could to best provide for their children. we are being cautious with this, and thorough.

Whilst I understand this sentiment, I would also suggest that a second opinion wouldn't hurt.  If I had an engineering problem and the proposed solution came in at ten times what I thought might be reasonable, I wouldn't immediately whip out my cheque book and sign up.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to provide the best for your child.  But just because it comes with a big price tag, doesn't make it the best for you child.

I have a son who in his formative years was identified as being both gifted and, at times, extraordinarily "exuberant".  Jekyll and Hyde style.  To the point of destruction.  There were a number of solutions suggested at varying costs and levels of personal invasiveness.  We sought several opinions and it turned out that eliminating one particular food group from his diet completely eliminated the "excessive exuberance".  It turned out that this was the best solution because it was the right solution.  It also, coincidentally, was the cheapest solution.  I imagine there were a bunch of paediatric psychologists that were quite disappointed that we'd found a solution that didn't involve years of ongoing therapy.  Of course, if the right solution did involve years of ongoing therapy I don't doubt that we would have committed to supporting it.  But I shudder to think how different my son's life (and ours) would be ten years on if we hadn't found the right solution and we'd committed to following the path set out by the first "expert opinion" that we came across.

joe189man

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Thanks for everyone's responses, i feel like this discussion has moved slightly away from the case study question of what can we cut in our budget and focusing on the education service (see first post where i state this is a 4 session commitment and likely not an ongoing thing).  I appreciate all of your concerns and suggestions regarding our son, many of the issues you have brought up were and are being explored while we also explore the what the service can provide. 

In hindsight , it may have been more beneficial to wait about a month to post this case study and skipped the portion about the education costs entirely.

Again thanks for the responses, the budget recommendations have been helpful

formerlydivorcedmom

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People are focusing on the educational expense because a) it is huge and b) it seems unnecessary [with caveat of not knowing your particular kid] and c) you've been a little ambivalent in other posts about whether or not this is going to go away.

In all likelihood, it's not going to be just a one-month thing.  Yes, you may stop paying for these particular sessions in a month, but there will always be other educational-type things that pop up and require money.  Sometimes lots of it.  That might mean private school, or camps, or extra tutoring, or special workbooks or educational computer programs or .... 

You and your wife will need to have a good discussion about how much you plan to budget for kids' activities and enrichment, now and as they get older.  Gifted kids often have gifted siblings, so you may very well be in this same space again in a few years!  It may also be important to have part of that money earmarked for potential medical/behavioral costs.  My 9-year-old gifted kid has an anxiety disorder.   He's also the kind of kid who, when bored, has LOTS of behavior problems (kindergarten teacher and I chatted roughly once or twice a week about what he'd done this time...and the last month of 4th grade this year was ROUGH). 

So my regular expenses for this kid include $100 a month for meds and therapy appointments to keep him relatively emotionally stable.  $100/month for tae kwon do lessons to teach him to center himself and work out some energy.  An extra $100/month to go to the more pricey after school care because it's run by a large man with a booming voice who reminds kiddo of his dad, which means kiddo is more likely to behave. (Yes, I know that is a weird reason to choose a day care.)   Day care will be replaced next year with Robotics club costs.   I could spend a lot more - private school, many extra camps or after-school stuff...but I don't.  We can do a lot of the enrichment at home, and we're in a school district that has a special middle school for gifted kids.

[All of this still pales in comparison to the amount I spend on the 13-year-old -> invisalign + band + club volleyball = large sigh.]

As you outline your budget for the future, this is an important area for the two of you to think about.

For other kid-related costs - I'd look into cheaper options for swimming lessons.  Our rec center has them for about $100 per session per kid.   I wonder if you can find something cheaper for yours.




Eurotexan

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Some great suggestions here! The only thing that I will add is what jumped out at me when I first read your case study. You bury your savings category with others. Savings should be in its own category and the most important one. Pay yourself first.

I realize you are still working on streamlining your budget but savings deserves to be front and center stage.

Good luck!

freya

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OP: I realize you must be tired of reading all the criticisms about the gifted child expenses, but that's because it is symbolic of your getting snookered into the high-consumption lifestyle that you realize on some level that you want to avoid.  Since it's behavior problems that prompted you to seek help, I'm not sure how that somehow morphed into a "gifted" designation and educational program.  A referral to a psychologist would be more to the point, and chances are you shouldn't do anything except observe for now. The Invisalign is another symptom of same.  I've never heard of orthodontic work being done for preschoolers, and since it's something that can have negative effects later in life it should be approached with caution, like any medical procedure.

Just for the fun of it, go rent the movie "Baby Boom" on one of your TV subscriptions this weekend.  It mocks the hyper-competitive baby scene in a nice way, and maybe it'll help you get a refreshed perspective on it.

I also disagree with assessments that you're doing "well".  With a $15K emergency fund and $10K/month expenses that you wouldn't be able to pay for on one salary, you're in fact in a very precarious situation.  Some thinking outside the box is called for. here are some off the wall ideas to get you started:

- In exchange for your subsidizing full price Verizon smartphones for your older relatives, could they watch your kids a day or two a week to help you cut down on the daycare costs?  (BTW - check into Tmobile prepaid plans.)

- If your wife is a licensed CPA, she could consider starting her own business (e.g. tax preparation) at home.  That would cut out (or at least down) the day care, eliminate many other job-related costs, and give you considerable tax advantages including things like the home office deduction, pass-through deduction, profit sharing Keogh contributions etc.   That may end up netting you more money than her current full time job, after expenses.

- Look into a nanny share with neighbors.   I had a friend who did this as a way of dealing with sky high Manhattan day care prices.  They had another kid come to their home during the day, and a nanny came to take care of both kids.  The two families then got to split the cost.



Roadrunner53

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I am no expert but maybe you should rethink some things.

I do not know what kind of a home you have but would you consider selling it for a lower cost home? That way you would save all the way around. Smaller mortgage, lower insurance and lower taxes. Plus, if you could fin a home without an HOA expense you would save there too.

One poster suggested you take money out of savings and pay off education loans. That is a good idea.

The car is s touchy subject and if you keep it and should pay off the student loans, then maybe you could use the money from the student loans to make double payments to pay off the car fast. If you should get rid of the car, you can always rent a car for vacations that meet your needs for comfort.

TV services need to be pared down. There are only so many hours a day to watch tv and like another poster said, many movies can be borrowed from the library. Less convenient but you can also get books for your kids while you are there.

Eating out or take out should be done as a treat and not regularly. Plan on how often you want to treat yourselves and stick with that plan. Plan your meals at home if you don't already do so. Make some freezer meals to have on hand if you don't feel like cooking. Cook up some chicken pieces, cheeseburgers (without buns) and freeze. Mashed potatoes freeze well as does rice and cooked spaghetti.

The one thing you have to start to think about is that corporations start letting people go in their 50's. They offer packages and it is in your best interest to take them because if you don't, they will find a reason to fire you. It is hard to find a job when you are older making the same money. If I were you I would start thinking about planning to retire mid 50's, even if you don't. Companies are ruthless. Companies shut down, companies move out of state or country. Look at all the companies that have gone out of business in the last 5 years or have reduced their work force to the bone.  So, if you have a goal to retire at 55 that gives you 18 years to get your retirement goals in order (whether you do or not). 18 years go fast! Your kids will be just about out of college by then and you will be ready for your new chapter in life. So, this is the crossroads. You have to think a bit like a miser. Get your loans paid off. Downsize to a less expensive home. Do not buy things frivolously. Downsize your tv services. Eat at home, not out. These are simple things. Not that you have to wear rags and eat out of dumpsters. You need to do some fun things too! Plan a modest vacation, plan a fun evening out with the kids for pizza. But also, find FREE things to do. Like parks, hiking, biking, picnics, swimming in a lake. Your town probably has swimming lessons thru park and recreation department at a modest fee. Check that out too.

If you go back to your list of monthly expenses and either you or your wife lost a job, what would you cut out of your budget so you could keep you nose above water? Think a bit like a miser and before you or your wife purchase a big ticket item, discuss with your wife what might be the alternative, less expensive route. Do you need an in ground pool...NO! But maybe an above ground pool. Or maybe not! Or maybe membership at The YMCA...or not! Or maybe a season pass at a park with a lake...YES! Find the cheaper but still pleasant option.

Good luck to you!

joe189man

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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The education thing… I can understand everyone’s responses to this, however you aren’t me or my wife, living in our house, caring and raising for my kids. Let me clarify it and our approach to our kids. It is more of a continuation of the initial assessment completed by the first psychologist. Now we know he can have behavior issues and is gifted, so what, what does that mean, what are our next steps, what should we be doing for him to not trigger behavior issues and promote an environment where he can best grow and what type of learning environment may be best for him. That’s the point of the service, not to teach him letters and math, to assess his emotional and physical needs, and develop an at home environment that works for him and us. Also for daycare to better understand what’s happening and how to correct behavior before it becomes an issue. References were checked for all service providers.

To me, to make our lives flow better and be less stressful (he can be a handful) I would pay triple that price. If you have no experience with gifted kids or don’t know what that means then don’t comment, you don’t understand and never will know how difficult it can be or the stress that can be added to your household. Those who have experience, I truly appreciate your comments and advice. The service cost is the cost, it’s a niche service for a tiny market. Again we would gladly pay nearly anything the help him thrive and to reduce stress in our lives.

Moving on…

We purchased our home within the last year and refinanced to a better rate a few months ago, granted its big and expensive but within 3 miles of everything we need (read very bike-able). We are not moving unless we get new jobs or need to find/attend better schools much farther away.

We are probably going to keep both cars, but drop the insurance coverage on the Mazda to liability only, maybe save $30-50 there.

Invisaligns are for me to prevent future tooth damage, not for the kids

Subscriptions will be scaled back to what is used most or cut altogether.

I am working on the phones, two device payments will be up in two months, saving ~$60 and the rest go away by Christmas saving another $80. Verizon unlimited plan is about $200 + taxes for 5 lines

I am not worried about losing our jobs in mid 50s for two reasons, 1) likely wherever we are working, we will be part owners by then, responsible for a book of business and 2) per my retirement calculations, I have us retiring around then anyway.

CPA wife does auditing, not taxes, but we have discussed the possibility of her starting her own thing. Maybe once the kids are in actual school and we don’t have daycare costs.

If one of us lost our jobs we would be fine for several months, hence the $15k saved, besides we both have headhunters contacting us several times a week, new jobs could be found within month.

Our parents are not close and can’t help with child care.

Daycare has a value added of being able to bring kids to school and provide after school care for kindergarten and beyond to nearby schools. We are not interested in nanny share or in home daycare.

I apologize if I came across as angry or negative above, the focus on the education service for this case study was not expected and has become an emotional issue for my wife and I. Writing the case study, I realized that we spend too much for subscriptions, phones, swim lessons, and maybe insurance. With our savings we have options to further reduce monthly expenses at the cost of lost emergency savings, cost/benefits to be weighed. I am concerned with not saving enough and that also contributed to writing the case study.

Thanks for the recommendations and please no more focus on the education service, I feel it has been fully explained in terms of what it covers, what it doesn’t, and how long it will continue.

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
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  • Posts: 5470
I always find it interesting when people post case studies and then defend all their financial choices and most things are sacred.  If you are part owner then your job will be more secure as you age. I have known so many professional people to lose their jobs in their 50’s and never work again or make half their salary.  We also carried disability insurance until we retired.

freya

  • Bristles
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  • Posts: 271
OP:

You somehow seem to have the impression that "gifted" means "a difficult life" and requiring the care and feeding of multiple professionals.  I assure you that's not the case.  I'm not boasting here or anything but my IQ is higher than the one you quoted for your son, at least one other poster has mentioned same, and there are likely plenty others like this on this board.  I did not have any different childhood from anyone else.  I went to the same public school system as my siblings & neighbors.  Yes, I graduated very near the top of my high school class, then went to a high tier college and was happy to find I was an average student there.  I'm now a tenured professor at a similarly high-tier university.  I still grocery shop and cook, clean the toilet, feed the cats, hang out with friends at a local cafe (when I'm not working) and generally live life just like any other human.  And, I know lots of other people with similar life histories & gifted kids, and I've never heard anything like the story you've told here.

There's also the fact that any psychologist worth their salt would laugh hard and long at the idea of labeling a 3 year old as "gifted" with a numerical IQ measure.  At that age, "gifted" isn't really a concept and there is no such thing as a reliable IQ measurement.  I'm sorry to say but you're being sold a bill of goods.

Of course you should conduct your life as you see fit, but perhaps it's not the time for you to be asking the question you asked in your original post.  Perhaps it would be more productive for you to learn to track your expenses with precision, then project your spending patterns out into the future to see what life will look like 10, 20, and 30 years from now.

Malkynn

  • Pencil Stache
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  • Posts: 887
Yeah, your kid isn't difficult because they're gifted, they're difficult and gifted, which can be a challenge to manage.

I've worked with many gifted kids and many are tremendously well behaved, and don't end up getting tested early because they naturally generate their own enrichment.

It really doesn't take a lot to foster the learning needs of a typical gifted child, but it can be a nightmare managing the behavioural problems of a child with behavioural issues who is also gifted because despite their need for intellectual stimulation, they're more difficult to teach. It's especially challenging when they are both extremely gifted AND have a severe learning disability AND a bevahioural problem.

I don't share personal information, but my family has intimate experience with raising extremely gifted children and going through painstaking energy and effort to ensure that one of them didn't end up a super villain/terrorist.

You know your kid, so do what you think is best, but know that if you are actually dealing with the kind of challenges that require that level of intervention at that young an age, then you might be in for a few decades of intense support, not a few months.

Also, welcome to the MMM forums where threads very easily go off the rails and where intense personal criticism of your very personal life choices is the norm, ESPECIALLY if you try and say that they're off limits.

Don't take anything here personally and don't bother getting defensive about anything. Just take what's useful to you and keep moving forward.