Author Topic: My PhD is in...DANCE!  (Read 3471 times)

jax8

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My PhD is in...DANCE!
« on: August 16, 2017, 09:38:41 AM »
It's a line from a kids movie...  :)

So I'm embracing the frugal lifestyle and realizing that I want out of the rat race.  This month I've:
-vowed not to eat out anymore (hot, prepared grocery foods are still legal)
-pledged to meal plan and whittle down the food still in pantry/freezer
-got my husband on board (!!!!!)
-hit $2K in cash savings
-talked husband into upping his 401K contributions to 8%
-decided the 2008 / 105,000 mile Kia is going to go until the wheels fall off (and got husband to agree!)

So far my first month has been amazing!!!  Except...

Our girls are going back to dance classes next month.  This is our 4th year at the studio, and here's the ugly breakdown:

11 year old - ballet, tap, jazz, ballet technique, pointe
7 year old - ballet, tap, jazz, acro

Total monthly tuition:  $281.00 x 9 months = $2,529

New shoes (including pointe shoes, which go quickly and are $80 per pair) - $285.00 + $100 growth = $385.00

Costumes - varies, but last year was $300

Tickets - $15 per seat / 3 shows each year / multiple nights of same show and the kids want us there each night = $90 per audience member

This year they joined Competition and we'll have MORE costumes and a hotel bill for the big spring break competition.

Then we have SUMMER INTENSIVES which I'm not even adding in here because I feel kind of nauseous already.

It's a huge amount of money, but the girls LOVE it, and we are able to afford it.  I'd just rather put my money towards savings or debts...  Is that selfish?!?  I think they learn a lot in dance, about movement and feeling comfortable in their bodies and learning to work with a team and overcoming stage fright...  There are lots of benefits.  (No, I don't expect either girl to become a ballerina.  I actually doubt they will continue past age 14.)

The 11 year old isn't hiding in her room on her Ipod--she's with a teacher she adores and a group of friends that are always there, no matter what's going on in school or which teacher she gets that year.  The 7 year old also has a bigger group of friends that she's known since she was 3.  It's a nice, stable, supervised place for the kids to go.

I'm really torn over this.  I want to give good things to my kids, but I'm looking at $3,000+ per year for the kids' hobby.  What would you do?

Kio

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2017, 09:51:27 AM »
I did theater growing up and learned so SO many important life skills! I think keeping your daughters in dance is a great idea!! You did mention you have debts, though...

What do you think about just scaling back a bit? Maybe not doing competition or letting them each pick 2 genres (eg tap and ballet) to focus on, until the debts are gone?

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iowajes

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2017, 10:28:56 AM »
Do 7 and 11 year olds really need summer intensives? The studios here those ages mostly stay home and take summer classes.  It is only the older girls who go to intensives.

Personally $3,000 for both girls doesn't seem like a huge number to me.  I mean, for what I spent on dance, that is a teeny tiny little number. How many classes a week/days a week do your girls take?  Do you know what you are getting into in future years if you keep it up?

But if your debt is huge, I agree with the advice to not take so many disciplines. What are the girls goals? If it's something like musical theater- do they need pointe?  If it is ballet- do they need tap and acro?  If it is cheer- do they need pointe (or even ballet) and tap?  If it's just have fun- pick the two they like most, don't do as many classes.

mxt0133

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2017, 10:55:26 AM »
I'm really torn over this.  I want to give good things to my kids, but I'm looking at $3,000+ per year for the kids' hobby.  What would you do?

Increase your income or cut out another expense that is lower in priority.  "You can have what you want but you can't have everything you want", is the quote the comes to mind.

Are you saving for college?  What about vacation budget? 

For the 11 year old, I would have her put some skin in the game.  Have her do fundraisers or get a part-time job.  I once hired a 12 year old to do balloons and face painting for my son's party for $30 an hour, she had a business card and her own equipment.  That way you will know how committed she is and hopefully start teaching her that he will have to work for things that she wants and that mommy and daddy will not always be footing the bill.




jax8

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2017, 11:51:48 AM »
Right now we're only saving for retirement and building our emergency fund (10% of our income, which I was patting myself on my back for pre-reading MMM). Zero college savings, zero vacation savings. Income = $104,000 gross

Debts are:
Braces / $800 left / 0% rate ($109 payment)
Car / $2,000 left / 1.75% rate ($250 payment)
Student Loan / $62,000 left / 3.75% rate ($420 payment <---$50 extra goes here)
House / $97,000 left / 5.5% rate ($1,100 payment <---$110 extra goes here)

Grandparents are daycare in summer for $375 per month and before/after school care for $250 per month the rest of the year.  I figured we could afford dance since we weren't sinking $$$ in childcare like other families. (Doing better than the Joneses?)

The core clump is tap/ballet/jazz.  At this studio, if you take one, you take them all because they are all back to back.  Saturdays from 10 am - 1 pm.  Both girls have Saturday classes, so Husband and I can have date mornings, grocery shop, etc. during that time period.  It's kind of awesome.

11 year old also has Thursday night ballet / pointe.  So (this year) we'll be at the studio 2 days per week.  Last year it was 3 days.  11 year old loves ballet, but says she's not sure she'll stick with it next year (2018-2019). She's interested in joining the 7th grade track team next year, or swim team.  I'm praying these school teams will be cheaper!

I'm glad to hear that our prices don't seem insane--but that shocks me!  The 11 year old already scaled back and happily dropped Modern, Hip Hop and Acro. She wasn't interested in them and ASKED to drop them.  She also has her own dog walking business, but she spends that money on clothes and Christmas gifts.  I don't ask her to pay for dance.

7 year old will only get more expensive as she gets older.  My theory is that as 11 year old moves into teenage years and drops dance, our youngest will absorb the savings.

iowajes

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2017, 11:57:51 AM »
Ah- only 2 days a week. That's why it doesn't seem insane.  With that many classes listed I thought you might be one of the 6-day a week studio families.

Keep dance as a light hobby. The 6-day a week thing is rarely necessary. Very few kids go pro at this.

jezebel

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2017, 12:04:08 PM »
This is timely as I just got the registration paperwork for my daughter's dance classes (ballet and jazz).  It is 2 days a week (3 classes but two on one night) for $2K for the 10 months.  It works out to $210/month but no extras unless she needs a larger pair of inexpensive slippers and maybe a jacket this year if she pays for part of it out of her savings.   

It's a lot of money in my book, and the time commitment makes me a little anxious - she's 7.5.  Plus she wants to audition for the nutcracker, which has short rehearsals 1x/weekend during the fall.  But I've decided to be ok with it on a month-to-month basis and we'll regularly check in to see if she's still enjoying it.  Our daycare costs are going down this school year so by adding the classes, we'll still be "out" the same amount.   And I am able to pay for the summer dance camp with our DCFSA, so that helps.
« Last Edit: August 17, 2017, 08:28:56 AM by jezebel »

Chesleygirl

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2017, 03:22:17 PM »
My daughter's dance class was $100 a month, for a once-a-week class, 45 minutes long. It had gone up from $75 a month. The going rate tends to be $75 around here. The studio didn't even warn anyone about the price jump. We had to drop her out from that studio.

I found out many other studios charge $45 to $80 a month for the same (one class per week).

Dicey

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2017, 08:02:13 PM »
5.5% mortgage? WTH? Refi-that sucker and there's a bunch of money freed up right there! You may have to increase your loan by 3k to get a lender to do the deal, but you can do that and then dump it back into the mortgage right after closing. Really, 5.5%??

Other important questions:

Are your SL's fixed?

How much home equity do you have?
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jax8

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2017, 09:00:12 AM »

5.5% mortgage? WTH? Refi-that sucker and there's a bunch of money freed up right there! You may have to increase your loan by 3k to get a lender to do the deal, but you can do that and then dump it back into the mortgage right after closing. Really, 5.5%??  I'm 10 years into a 30 year mortgage, so I'm not sure refi is the right option for me because of amortization schedules. I plugged my information into the Zillow "Should I Refinance?" calculator and it's telling me if I refinanced at 20 years / 3.75% I would save $14,888 over the life of the loan.  Extending it to another 30 looks like it would cost me $5,000. If I'm reading that correctly...

I believe I'm far enough into my mortgage repayment that the only way I can help is to shorten my term at a better rate with the goal to pay it off faster.  If I'm trying to free up monthly spending by lowering my payment, the end math isn't going to add up in my favor.

Other important questions:

Are your SL's fixed? YES

How much home equity do you have? $37,000

jax8

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2017, 09:15:54 AM »
I also found this early payment calculator: http://www.mortgagecalculators.info/calc-additionalpayment.php

It lets you figure out how much interest and time you'd save if you started adding extra today, factoring in when your mortgage started.  It's spitting out that I would save $15,986 in interest and save 4.5 years off my mortgage by just sending in an extra $100.

So I can refinance for 20 years / 3.75% and save $14,888 or just send in $100 extra and create my own 15.5 year mortgage / $15,986 savings
 

jezebel

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2017, 09:33:38 AM »
If your goal is to lower your monthly payment and make extra payments, I would refinance to a 30 year mortgage with a lower interest rate and throw extra money at it when practicable.

Drifterrider

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2017, 10:03:47 AM »
To the OP:

Can you afford it?
Do your children have fun?
Is it worth it to you that they enjoy it enough to validate the cost?

Therein lies your answer.

jax8

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #13 on: August 17, 2017, 10:08:10 AM »
If your goal is to lower your monthly payment and make extra payments, I would refinance to a 30 year mortgage with a lower interest rate and throw extra money at it when practicable.

I'm following now.  I used that extra mortgage payment calculator and now I'm seeing what you guys are saying.  (Sorry. Duh.)

$97,500 / refi 30 year / 3.75% rate = $451 payment / 30 years payoff / $65,053 interest paid

Signing for the refi and then adding an extra $200 to each payment = $651 payment / 17 years payoff / $34,147 interest paid

Taking the refi and adding an extra $300 to each payment = $751.54 payment / 14 years paid off / $27,726 interest paid



MBot

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #14 on: August 17, 2017, 09:04:39 PM »
Right now we're only saving for retirement and building our emergency fund (10% of our income, which I was patting myself on my back for pre-reading MMM). Zero college savings, zero vacation savings. Income = $104,000 gross

Debts are:
Braces / $800 left / 0% rate ($109 payment)
Car / $2,000 left / 1.75% rate ($250 payment)
Student Loan / $62,000 left / 3.75% rate ($420 payment <---$50 extra goes here)
House / $97,000 left / 5.5% rate ($1,100 payment <---$110 extra goes here)

Grandparents are daycare in summer for $375 per month and before/after school care for $250 per month the rest of the year.  I figured we could afford dance since we weren't sinking $$$ in childcare like other families. (Doing better than the Joneses?)

The core clump is tap/ballet/jazz.  At this studio, if you take one, you take them all because they are all back to back.  Saturdays from 10 am - 1 pm.  Both girls have Saturday classes, so Husband and I can have date mornings, grocery shop, etc. during that time period.  It's kind of awesome.

11 year old also has Thursday night ballet / pointe.  So (this year) we'll be at the studio 2 days per week.  Last year it was 3 days.  11 year old loves ballet, but says she's not sure she'll stick with it next year (2018-2019). She's interested in joining the 7th grade track team next year, or swim team.  I'm praying these school teams will be cheaper!

I'm glad to hear that our prices don't seem insane--but that shocks me!  The 11 year old already scaled back and happily dropped Modern, Hip Hop and Acro. She wasn't interested in them and ASKED to drop them.  She also has her own dog walking business, but she spends that money on clothes and Christmas gifts.  I don't ask her to pay for dance.

7 year old will only get more expensive as she gets older.  My theory is that as 11 year old moves into teenage years and drops dance, our youngest will absorb the savings.

Your dance time is also babysitting time so your husband and you have a date time?! That's awesome! The fact the time multitasks so well is a point in favor here.

Is there a way to have your daughter begin to pay for part of dance? E.g. when she turns 12 she will start paying 1/4 of the cost or even 1/10 of the cost? Ease into it?

Dicey

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #15 on: August 17, 2017, 10:36:40 PM »
If your goal is to lower your monthly payment and make extra payments, I would refinance to a 30 year mortgage with a lower interest rate and throw extra money at it when practicable.

I'm following now.  I used that extra mortgage payment calculator and now I'm seeing what you guys are saying.  (Sorry. Duh.)

$97,500 / refi 30 year / 3.75% rate = $451 payment / 30 years payoff / $65,053 interest paid

Signing for the refi and then adding an extra $200 to each payment = $651 payment / 17 years payoff / $34,147 interest paid

Taking the refi and adding an extra $300 to each payment = $751.54 payment / 14 years paid off / $27,726 interest paid

<Insert sound of Dicey clapping vigorously here.>

ETA: Oh yeah, I asked about those SL's with an eye for possibly suggesting a cash-out re-fi, but I see that's not gonna work, nor is it necessary.

About the dance: Any possibility of a small side gig to help defray the costs?
« Last Edit: August 17, 2017, 10:39:55 PM by Dicey »
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jax8

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2017, 10:52:49 AM »
Good news!  I'm moving forward with a 15 year refinance at 3.375%!  Just signed and submitted all of the paperwork yesterday.

My payment should stay exactly the same, I'm losing the PMI insurance, and I'm saving thousands of dollars in interest.  THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!  If you hadn't said, "WTF?!? WHO PAYS 5.5%?" I never would have looked into it and done the math.

mm1970

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2017, 12:51:23 PM »
ha ha ha ha

This makes me laugh because we *just* watched Monsters vs. Aliens this weekend, and 5 yo liked it so much he's watched it THREE TIMES.

Goldielocks

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2017, 08:00:48 PM »
Good news!  I'm moving forward with a 15 year refinance at 3.375%!  Just signed and submitted all of the paperwork yesterday.

My payment should stay exactly the same, I'm losing the PMI insurance, and I'm saving thousands of dollars in interest.  THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!  If you hadn't said, "WTF?!? WHO PAYS 5.5%?" I never would have looked into it and done the math.

Awesome for you....   It would have been slightly better to refi at 30 years and put the extra onto the SL, then into investments, but your choice is almost as good.

Dance -- here is the bad news, it is only going to get more expensive.   Pointe shoes will start to wear out after as little as a week, once their feet are stronger.   You will need to start thinking about dropping one of the types of dance classes now, and prep your girls for it in future, saying why.   The costume cost also goes up a lot, and then you have the competitions.

My nieces are in ballet and it is frightful how much it costs now that they are 13 and 11.   Their parents are in a horrible situation of having to tell them that their dream must end, or spend more money than they have to make it work out.   This could have been avoided by reducing dance to once a week before they hit 10 years old, to keep their expectations on a recreational level.

 With your level of debts right now, you may not be in a flush space to afford this dance much longer, either.  (This is  just a guess from your post about low equity, SL debts, car loan, etc).

jax8

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2017, 01:49:34 PM »
Good news!  I'm moving forward with a 15 year refinance at 3.375%!  Just signed and submitted all of the paperwork yesterday.

My payment should stay exactly the same, I'm losing the PMI insurance, and I'm saving thousands of dollars in interest.  THANK YOU EVERYONE!!!  If you hadn't said, "WTF?!? WHO PAYS 5.5%?" I never would have looked into it and done the math.

Awesome for you....   It would have been slightly better to refi at 30 years and put the extra onto the SL, then into investments, but your choice is almost as good.

Dance -- here is the bad news, it is only going to get more expensive.   Pointe shoes will start to wear out after as little as a week, once their feet are stronger.   You will need to start thinking about dropping one of the types of dance classes now, and prep your girls for it in future, saying why.   The costume cost also goes up a lot, and then you have the competitions.

My nieces are in ballet and it is frightful how much it costs now that they are 13 and 11.   Their parents are in a horrible situation of having to tell them that their dream must end, or spend more money than they have to make it work out.   This could have been avoided by reducing dance to once a week before they hit 10 years old, to keep their expectations on a recreational level.

 With your level of debts right now, you may not be in a flush space to afford this dance much longer, either.  (This is  just a guess from your post about low equity, SL debts, car loan, etc).

I looked into a 30 year refinance / 3.99% then chose the 15 year / 3.375% after reading this:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/05/24/mmm-challenge-get-yourself-a-lower-mortgage-rate/

Mr. Money Mustache called 30 year loans stupid and laid out a whole strategy of refinancing to a term that matches the amount of years you have left to pay it off, or even better, a lower term. It convinced me to chose the 15 year and own our home outright by age 50.

It's also going to force me send the full mortgage payment in every month and stick to the payoff plan, because I know full well that while we may *intend* to send an extra $300 in with the 30 year mortgage refi, we would justify all kinds of reasons for not sending it in.  This way we're forced to keep our heads in the game AND save more in interest. 

I've read a bit about the House Payoff or Invest debate (not a ton, I'm still digging around here) and I lean more toward Payoff. But I also understand that we need income to buy food and actually...you know...LIVE...so we need to do more towards retirement than just pay off the house. I'm working on upping investments.

As for dance...  I think this is going to be our last year with both girls taking the full course load.  Let me rephrase that:  I'm going to INFORM the girls that due to costs and time, they will need to narrow down to one dance style to focus on.

Chesleygirl

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2017, 03:02:16 PM »
I've been told by a couple of dance teachers that enrolling kids in dance before age 5 is pretty much a waste of money. So those baby and toddler dance classes are worthless, according to these are women who have danced professionally. They said they didn't start until age 7 or 8. The toddler classes are fun but they can't really focus on technique at that age.

Goldielocks

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #21 on: August 27, 2017, 12:30:10 AM »
I've been told by a couple of dance teachers that enrolling kids in dance before age 5 is pretty much a waste of money. So those baby and toddler dance classes are worthless, according to these are women who have danced professionally. They said they didn't start until age 7 or 8. The toddler classes are fun but they can't really focus on technique at that age.

I think of it more like preschool gymnastics class, or multi sports games night...   sort of whole body coordination skills and playtime rather than technique.  So I would not say it is a waste, per se....

Liberty Stache

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2017, 08:22:35 AM »
I am surprised at the responses...am I still on the MMM board?

I would drop the expense ASAP.

I'll just leave this here for my rationale: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/18/news-flash-your-debt-is-an-emergency/
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jezebel

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2017, 10:29:36 AM »
I am surprised at the responses...am I still on the MMM board?

I would drop the expense ASAP.

I'll just leave this here for my rationale: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/18/news-flash-your-debt-is-an-emergency/

To each his/her own, I don't see anything particularly alarming about the OP's debt situation, as long as she is starting to pay it down more quickly and cutting some of the dance classes, which she has stated that she is/will be doing.  Most people will pay more for something they value that others don't, say living in a HCOL city with good schools, for instance.

jax8

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2017, 11:20:44 AM »
I am surprised at the responses...am I still on the MMM board?

I would drop the expense ASAP.

I'll just leave this here for my rationale: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/18/news-flash-your-debt-is-an-emergency/

To each his/her own, I don't see anything particularly alarming about the OP's debt situation, as long as she is starting to pay it down more quickly and cutting some of the dance classes, which she has stated that she is/will be doing.  Most people will pay more for something they value that others don't, say living in a HCOL city with good schools, for instance.

I think the disconnect is that this is an early retirement board with people striving not to be typical middle class Americans with student loans, 30 year mortgages, car loans, long commutes, etc. I'm coming in this with a 14 year marriage and two kids where we all saw "normal" as financing big purchases, saving 10% of income, and spending everything else on whatever we could afford without being stupid with credit cards. 

It's hard to hit the brakes and tell 2 kids that hey, Mommy realized your dance classes are a big budget suck, and we're not going to do it anymore. I want to FIRE, but I have to figure out my own personal sacrifices to get there.

For me, this refinance is a huge victory.  I'll tackle the student loans next.  We'll get there.

Goldielocks

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2017, 06:47:29 PM »
jax8 -- that is it, exactly.   It was a lot easier for me to warn / tell the 9 year old that the limit was one class per month, at a time, under XX dollars per month,  no more than a 15 minute drive from home, than it will be for my SIL to tell her 13 year old ballet dancer (who is hoping to take pre-professional classes next year and is dancing 6 hours a week), that there is no more money.

This year, they are trying to get through the money issues by having the daughter act as an "extra" for filiming, but that requires grandma to take a full day to take them to / from the filming location for no money for grandma....


dreaming

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #26 on: September 16, 2017, 01:14:00 AM »
Don't forget about the competition fees!  My daughter is 12 and has danced competitively for 6 yrs.  ( this is her 6th yr)  the cost has depended on how many dances she was in each year.  It has ranged from 3,000 to  5,500 each yr.  it actually makes me cringe adding up what we have spent.  That is not factoring in the 2 national trips we took too.  While she likes it, I don't know that she loves it.  However, we did switch studios this year and she seems to have a new found excitement for it.  The best part about her age is she is old enough to be in school dance next year.  The costs are considerably less! 

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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #27 on: September 16, 2017, 07:41:01 AM »
I wouldn't say mustachianism is cutting all expenses. In your situation I would ask two questions:

1. What, exactly, is the benefits for your daughters, and you, with the dance?

2. Is there a cheaper way to achieve the same thing?

To the extent the answer to the second question is yes, cut those corners. To the extent the answer is no, don't change it. Repeat for each benefit listed with 1.

Even if you end up not changing anything, start taking the steps people have suggested to rein in future increases in spending. Maybe telling the 11yo that this year she has to pay 10% herself, next  year 20% etc, until she is 20 and pay it all herself. That might backfire tough, if she decides at some point its too expensive, quits the dance and sit inside with her tablet all day.
Beans&rice, my love!

socaso

  • Bristles
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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2017, 04:49:11 PM »
It's hard to hit the brakes and tell 2 kids that hey, Mommy realized your dance classes are a big budget suck, and we're not going to do it anymore. I want to FIRE, but I have to figure out my own personal sacrifices to get there.

I can sympathize with this as a parent. One thing that did strike me in the description of the dance expenses was the multiple nights of performance they want you to attend. Although it is not a great deal of money on the line I think it could be an opportunity for a teaching moment. You could sit them down tell them that with all the other expenses of dance it is too cost prohibitive to attend every performance of every show so they can choose which one you attend or perhaps split up attendance, one parent/relative one night and a different parent for the next performance. I did a lot of theater growing up and I think it's a good lesson to learn that if you are going to participate in the performing arts you are not always going to perform in front of your adoring family.

I don't agree that you are the only one who has to sacrifice to FIRE. When you save for your retirement, whenever that might be, you are doing a service to your children by creating a future in which they will not be burdened by financial worries about you. That is a great gift you give to them.

JLR

  • Bristles
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Re: My PhD is in...DANCE!
« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2017, 11:10:40 PM »
Another dance mum here, posting to follow the discussion.

Our kids seem to have a similar roster of dance classes to yours, but classes here are spread throughout the week (5 nights most of the year, have just dropped back to 4 nights now that ballet exams are over for the year). We generally only have weekends of dance when away at competitions (unless it is concert time, exam time, or eisteddfod time...). Otherwise, our Saturdays are taken up by soccer....We count the weekends away at comps as our vacations for the year.

This past year I've had our 14 year old paying for her own pointe shoes. And I'm so so so excited to have reached the point where her feet have stopped growing, so we are only buying shoes once they are worn out, not because of growing. It has been a rough few years on that front! Luckily her jazz shoes could be passed down to her 10yo brother, but his feet are fast approaching the same size as hers....and he still needs his own supply of tap and hip hop shoes!