Author Topic: $30K bonus -- what to do  (Read 13107 times)

iwasjustwondering

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$30K bonus -- what to do
« on: January 20, 2014, 03:05:32 PM »
Edited to remove too many details.  Thanks for the advice all.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2014, 08:29:18 AM by iwasjustwondering »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2014, 03:19:44 PM »
What's the rate on the mortgage? Is it below 4%?

Obviously kill the high-interest debt, but at your income level you've got a lot of padding as long as your lifestyle isn't too inflated. If you haven't already funded your 401(k) and Roth for 2014, do it.

Everything else can get stuck in a taxable account. Vanguard Total Market, Int'l Market, etc.

$4K on a kids' camp sounds ridiculous to me but without any further details I can't comment on whether it would "help" at all.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2014, 03:34:55 PM »
It's 4.5%.  The value of the house is around $400,000.

Stupid Roth question: on the Vanguard site, I read that I couldn't contribute to a Roth (at least not pre-tax) due to my income.  Is this not the case?  If it is true, then what is the advantage of the Roth, compared to using any other investment vehicle?  If they're all after-tax money, I don't get the point. But perhaps I gave up too easily.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2014, 03:39:02 PM »
The camp is three weeks away from home, at a college campus.  It's run through Johns Hopkins, but there are numerous camps around the country through this program, so it's not like you're getting JH professors.

Having said that, it's a cool camp.  Last year he did three weeks of Latin, and basically covered a Latin 1 high school class.  They do academics all day, break for dinner and sports, and then go back to class for two hours.  He craves this sort of intensity.  They also do things like cookouts and dances. 

It's nice for him to be in an environment where he is considered somewhat normal.  We are all reasonably intelligent -- my dad was a NASA physicist -- but this kid is just unusually smart, and struggles in a regular school environment, socially and otherwise.  He's seen as a bit of a weirdo, which makes me sad.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2014, 03:59:27 PM »
Okay, the camp sounds interesting.

Forgot about the income limits on Roths, my bad. I'm still a relative newbie at this, since my current FI plan is about paying off debt. Investing comes AFTER I exorcise the bad decisions of my 20s.

And at 4.5%, you're borderline on the invest vs. pay off mortgage early. Over the long term (10 years+) investing will historically give you a better ROI. It becomes a personal choice: if you're looking to hit FI within 10 years, killing that debt is worth it. If your horizon is longer or you want to leave yourself options, keep to the standard amortization and invest the $.

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2014, 04:03:13 PM »
Payoff the 2 high interest debts first. You mentioned it was a pre-tax bonus of $30K. Does that mean it's $30K gross and taxes will be taken out? This will put a nice dent in the bonus off the bat. After taxes and the two loans you might barely have enough for the camp.

Only you can decide if $4K is worth it for the camp. Most people on this site, including MMM would likely say it's unnecessary. However, we don't know your child and you do. Based on what little you've said and how much money you make, you've made a solid argument that he should go to the camp and it's worth it to you. For what it's worth, if you and your wife both work this camp has a chance of being deducted on your tax return under the childcare credit.

Roth questions - A Roth contribution is never pre-tax - the earnings and withdrawals are tax free, but you pay tax on the amount you contribute since there is no deduction. The income limit for a "regular" Roth contribution is around $180K (assuming you're married) but you can always do a "back-door" Roth contribution as many people on the site point out, and Vanguard can walk you through it. The advantage of the Roth is that the investments grow tax free and you can withdraw the money tax free, with a few limits. This gives you the ability to trade freely without tax consequence which is a huge benefit.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2014, 04:03:29 PM »
OK, thanks for the advice.  My plan is to pay the standard monthly mortgage payment for the next few years, till my kids go to college, at least, and devote any extra money toward their college funds, rather than paying off the mortgage early.  I would LOVE to retire in 10 years.  I really would, but I think I need to keep funding the 401K at $17,500 per year, keep out of debt, and just throw the rest of my money at the college funds (apart from the significant camp expense). 

It's tough.  There is a lot of emotion involved.  Do I have the right to direct so many assets toward the one kid every year (my other son is smart, but is a more normal child and probably would not get into the camp/does not need it as much)?  Am I sacrificing college tuition for what could be considered a short-term vanity booster?  It's hard to say. 

iwasjustwondering

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2014, 04:06:03 PM »
I'm a single mother, and have been divorced for nearly 10 years.  The financial burden is completely on me.  The camp would have been deductible till he was 12 -- he's 14 now, so I don't think it will be.  I used to be able to deduct things like that, but no longer.

I didn't realize that about the Roth.  That is a huge benefit.  Wow.  Thanks.

Oh PS, yes $30K is the gross amount.  I think I will end up with $17,000.

Melody

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2014, 04:14:28 PM »
Sounds like he might not need a college fund anyway ;-) A kid that bright is sure to get some good scholarships (and also likely to go into a field that will pay well enough that if he needed some loans he could pay them back easily as he would be likely to make a decent wage.) He'll also likely get a paid internship at some point and be able to work as an on campus tutor.

 It's also ok to ask your kids to contribute to college - if they have an after school job, they can save half. You can communicate with them... they sound smart. If you let them know you're finding it hard to fund college they might actually join you on your MMM journey and help find ways you can all cut back.

Also I don't think the camp is a vanity booster (or even that necessary for getting into college) but it sounds like it may be very important for your sons socialization/sense of belonging. Being super smart and young isn't easy. Once you're about 16 you start having adult friends and don't seem weird anymore, but at 12,13,14,15 you're too mature to hang with your peers but to young to hang out with adults and it's pretty hard.

Indio

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2014, 04:27:29 PM »
I would adjust the 401k withholdings so that you increase your contribution percentage for the year. Whenever I get my bonus I always increase my contribution so I can fully fund my 401k by Sept/Oct if possible. A bonus definitely helps that happen sooner. Then I would pay off the debt with whatever you net out of the bonus.
I know that gifted child camp - SIG. Never sent my kids but they are always asking me to do it. Other parents say it is great too but it is very pricey, though I believe they have a scholarship program...?
If you make too much for a Roth, put it into traditonal IRA then rollover to Roth before you file your taxes. It's a great trick if you ever need to borrow before retirement age.
529s aren't my favorite for college savings because financial aid counts that as a child's $$ so aid is based on how much money is in that account. I prefer to stuff retirement accts and pay down debt first.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2014, 04:57:00 PM »
Yup, it's JHU-CTY. 

iwasjustwondering

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2014, 04:58:33 PM »
Hey Melody, I had a full-tuition academic scholarship myself, but it meant I had to go to a somewhat crappy school, rather than the awesome ones I had gotten into.  I would like to give both of my kids more options, even if it's state school.  Not sure how feasible that is, given my timelines. 

iwasjustwondering

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2014, 05:00:31 PM »
Indio, thanks for the Roth stuffing tip.  Question about aid: isn't it all a wash anyway, since I don't think I'll qualify for financial aid at all?  So money in the 529 can't count against me, since I'm already knocked out of the game?  Or am I missing something?


mlipps

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2014, 05:06:01 PM »
Whoa, let's back up guys. If your credit is such that you took out a loan for a car at a staggering rate of 9%?!?!?! then I think you should probably hang on to a significant part of that as a larger than normal emergency fund until your credit is better. Otherwise, the next emergency could see you borrowing again at that absolutely outrageous rate.


iwasjustwondering

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2014, 05:09:52 PM »
Yes, that was ridiculous, but it was four years ago, and I was recovering from a divorce, where I walked out with nothing at all.  Ironically, my credit was very low because I had not used credit cards or had a car loan in a long time.  I hadn't managed debt.  Once I got the car loan, my score went up significantly.  I now actually do have lines of credit open, because I want to show that I can handle debt, and I don't want to be in that situation ever again.


mlipps

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2014, 05:22:48 PM »
Yes, that was ridiculous, but it was four years ago, and I was recovering from a divorce, where I walked out with nothing at all.  Ironically, my credit was very low because I had not used credit cards or had a car loan in a long time.  I hadn't managed debt.  Once I got the car loan, my score went up significantly.  I now actually do have lines of credit open, because I want to show that I can handle debt, and I don't want to be in that situation ever again.

Fair enough, I just wanted to make sure before you go spending that awesome bonus that you have your bases covered.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2014, 06:11:05 PM »
It's a good point, mlipps.  I've been in a scary situation, and it's not too unrealistic to think it could happen again some day.  That's why I'm trying to be so careful now.

G-dog

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2014, 06:33:47 PM »
Given the trend in the US of college costs (UP!), gov't support for colleges (down) and financial aid (based on need, down) -  I would hope for scholarships, but plan for there being none.  Also keep in mind that some scholarships or awards apply only to certain costs, like tuition.  Long ago, I functionally lost $ based on these restrictions!

4K sounds like a lot, is your son old enough to work part-time to help fund this?  It is never too early to learn the value of money and the joy of paying for things yourself.  Even if he contributes a relatively insignificant fraction of the total, having skin in the game is important. Also, working may be a way he improves social skills and provides another environment other than school (kids can be mean) and home.

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2014, 08:52:23 PM »
I'm a single mother, and have been divorced for nearly 10 years.  The financial burden is completely on me.  The camp would have been deductible till he was 12 -- he's 14 now, so I don't think it will be.  I used to be able to deduct things like that, but no longer.

I didn't realize that about the Roth.  That is a huge benefit.  Wow.  Thanks.

Oh PS, yes $30K is the gross amount.  I think I will end up with $17,000.

I'm sorry for assuming you were a) male and b) married. I always assume married when kids are in the picture but that's obviously a stupid mistake. I think I need to open my mind a bit.

Hey Melody, I had a full-tuition academic scholarship myself, but it meant I had to go to a somewhat crappy school, rather than the awesome ones I had gotten into.  I would like to give both of my kids more options, even if it's state school.  Not sure how feasible that is, given my timelines. 

This last sentence, and at least one other one in this thread give the impression that you will not be able to afford college for your children, and that you have somehow neglected saving for this. Based on the other data provided, it sounds like you've done an unbelievable job at focusing on making some great progress in paying down debts, getting the housing situation in order, and getting the best possible salary you can. This earning potential will go a very long way toward funding college, and toward building your stache once the kids are finished with college. I wouldn't worry about the fact that the money is not saved yet. You still have 4 years to save plus all the earning potential while they're in school. Kudos!

And yes, you have the right to give special treatment to one child if they need it. Every situation is different and I think too many people focus on making things "fair" for their kids. If you want to even the score offer something else to the other child after college is completed (house down payment maybe) if you truly feel it's necessary.

ch12

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2014, 09:31:31 PM »
I think your plan is sensible.

I went to gifted camp as a kid. We affectionately called it nerd camp. It was the one place where I got to see one of my Asperger's buddies be considered normal. Pretty much everyone spent time with his nose stuck in a book there. Maybe 5 of us were pulled for a seminar on teaching gifted kids - we were all chosen because we weren't one of those kids. We all read a lot - that definitely wasn't the difference. The difference was that during camp, we made an effort to go have other adventures.

The feeling of belonging is incredibly important as a kid; for me, those moments happened during camp. It's a relief not to be the smart kid. It's a relief not to be teased for your vocabulary.

Unsolicited advice: I wish deeply that my parents had either homeschooled me or sent me to Davidson Academy http://www.davidsonacademy.unr.edu/Articles.aspx?ArticleID=233&NavID=0_36 . I was substantially faster than my peers, even in gifted class, and I really should have gone to college around age 13, when I got the offer. My parents didn't want to send me off since I was too young. When I was 5 and the lady who tested my cognitive abilities wanted to send me to 3rd grade, they didn't send me. Boredom breeds resentment. I spend a lot of time nowadays reading up on homeschooling/unschooling.

mlipps

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2014, 10:00:20 PM »
Not to take away from ch12's personal experiences, but I also was given the option of skipping ahead several grades after testing well ahead of my age at four. I was not allowed to skip and went to a pretty mediocre high school. Graduated right on time. I can't say I learned a whole bunch over those years in the classroom, but I don't resent the situation either. It sounds like the gifted camp is great for your son if thats what he needs, but don't feel guilty for not doing more.

lhamo

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2014, 10:16:55 PM »
Congratulations on your bonus.

I took the SATs as a CTY participant in the early years of their research program, and did very well.  No camps at that stage, I think -- or maybe we just didn't have the money so it was never a real option.  My family did toy with the idea of applying for the early entrance program at our local university, but logistics made it unfeasible.  Middle school and high school were pretty horrible experiences for me, especially middle school.  In the end I ended up getting  a scholarship to the United World Colleges (www.uwc.org) and that changed my life in more ways than I can count.  You might want to share the program information with your son and see if he is interested -- those who get admitted tend to be very gifted academically, and these days if you are admitted as a US student you also get the potential of huge scholarship support for college from the Shelby Davis Foundation as well, so it is a really great opportunity.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #22 on: January 21, 2014, 05:54:10 AM »
You guys are an encouraging bunch.  Thank you.  CH, at CTY, the one very strict rule is that the kids are not allowed to bring textbooks out of the class.  They are in school all day and into the evening, and "no studying outside of regular school hours" is strictly enforced.  LOL.  He does have a good time there.

This is really my year to make a dramatic change in our financial picture wrt college.  Lhamo, thanks, I will look into UWC. 
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 05:56:19 AM by iwasjustwondering »

ch12

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #23 on: January 21, 2014, 07:11:34 PM »
CH, at CTY, the one very strict rule is that the kids are not allowed to bring textbooks out of the class.  They are in school all day and into the evening, and "no studying outside of regular school hours" is strictly enforced.  LOL.  He does have a good time there.

Most kids at my level don't study. We're actually dreadfully lazy people, because we can skate by in school and still get perfect grades. It's now an Internet cliche, but Carol Dweck's work on fear of failure applies to "smart kids." http://blogs.hbr.org/2012/01/the-right-mindset-for-success/

My real point here is that spending money for his camp is definitely worth it for nonfinancial reasons.

MEANDERING OFF TOPIC
Not to take away from ch12's personal experiences, but I also was given the option of skipping ahead several grades after testing well ahead of my age at four. I was not allowed to skip and went to a pretty mediocre high school. Graduated right on time. I can't say I learned a whole bunch over those years in the classroom, but I don't resent the situation either. It sounds like the gifted camp is great for your son if thats what he needs, but don't feel guilty for not doing more.

When I say "resentment," I mean the lingering question of "Why am I here?" It's less of a philosophical question and more of a longing to be learning at the level for which I was ready. I went to the best high school in my hometown of Indianapolis, the 12th largest city in the US. I still had a handful of dreadful teachers (and of course some superb ones). Had things gone slightly differently when I was 13, I'd probably be on track to be a linguistics professor by now.

I landed in a good spot in the end (completed 4 majors at age 21); I'm also gainfully employed, which is quite nice. Despite my current situation, I still wish that my course had gone another route at age 13. I read about stuff like the Harding kids: http://www.amazon.com/The-Brainy-Bunch-Harding-Familys/dp/1476759340. I resolve to give my kid the choice to attend or not attend normal school. My parents did not offer me the choice. They just made sure that I stayed with kids my age, so that I could be "normal." I never was.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2014, 02:01:44 AM by ch12 »

StetsTerhune

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #24 on: January 21, 2014, 07:36:23 PM »
Pretty much agree with everything ch12 said. It can be really important for a kid to realize that a. He's not strange because he's smart and B. he's not special because he's smart. I was in college before I managed to realize either of those things, and its the only reason I'm glad I went to a good college

You make 220k a year. 4k for something your kid loves and that you feel is good for him is really up for discussion?

G-dog

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2014, 07:50:48 PM »
@ch12 - I am no super genius like you or the son in question, but the problem I had when university classes did finally get moe difficult was that I NEVER learned how to study because I never had to in the past.  Your comment about being lazy really resonated with me.  Once I got a subject I didn't instantly understand or learn, I didn't know what to do (but the bars were open...).  I never thought of going to U early, but am glad I did not since I did learn a lot socially at U, I would probably not have done that if I had gone really early.

@IWJW (OP) - you are doing a great job handling everything ($, kids, job, etc.).  Keep calm and carry on and try not to sweat the small stuff.

ch12

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2014, 02:54:06 AM »
@ch12 - I am no super genius like you or the son in question, but the problem I had when university classes did finally get moe difficult was that I NEVER learned how to study because I never had to in the past.  Your comment about being lazy really resonated with me.  Once I got a subject I didn't instantly understand or learn, I didn't know what to do (but the bars were open...).  I never thought of going to U early, but am glad I did not since I did learn a lot socially at U, I would probably not have done that if I had gone really early.

I'm not a super genius. I went to school with a kid who was/is smarter than me. When we were recognized in the Midwestern version of CTY (Midwest Talent Search out of Northwestern University, now Midwest Academic Talent Search or something), I was ranked in the 1.5% of gifted kids. Do you know who beat me? That kid - 0.5% of gifted kids :) He's at Cambridge University in the UK now, studying for his master's in math. Next year, he'll start his PhD program at Vanderbilt. I grew up with him and other people who consistently beat me in the classroom.

Frankly, I'm not sure what would happen if I couldn't understand something. I'd probably flounder.

I could have graduated in 2 years and 2 summers, but I chose not to do so. I spent the extra time studying abroad and getting extra majors. Even if I had entered university a year or so earlier, that still would've been the outcome. During my senior year, I realized that I would have been interested enough in human factors to create an individualized major for it. I also would have majored in linguistics had I taken my first linguistics class during my freshman year. Four is pretty high, but it could've been higher. I considered university a buffet of all you can eat knowledge.

On the road not traveled - Danielle Fong is a pretty great example of someone who entered college a bit early. She dropped out of middle school to go to college. http://daniellefong.com/about-the-author/ She ended up doing ok. She was born in 1987.

Quote
September 2000 – May 2005: Dalhousie University, graduated with first class combined honors in Physics/Computer Science, with a university medal.
August 2005: Started PhD. program at Princeton’s Plasma Physics Lab

She's now running LightSail. http://www.forbes.com/special-report/2011/30-under30-12/30-under-30-12_energy.html

Quote
The idea is to make it possible for intermittent sources of renewable energy like solar and wind to go mainstream, and revolutionize power grid design.

She's very cool.

cynthia1848

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2014, 07:47:08 AM »
Definitely keep the camp.  I went to CTY as a kid and it was awesome to finally be around other smart kids.  I also skipped a grade and that made things better in high school (not great, but better).

Also, if your son aces his PSATs (likely since he already qualified for CTY) and becomes a National Merit Scholar semifinalist, finalist or scholar, there should be many doors open to him for college as far as scholarships go, particularly for state schools.

smalllife

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2014, 08:45:30 AM »
Yup, it's JHU-CTY.

I did a similar camp, but it was run through our state's education system.  It was indeed life changing and arguably is one of the few things (a teacher is the other) that got me through high school.  Fortunately my parents didn't have to pay anything for mine, but if he's the kind of kid I think he is I'm sure he appreciates not only the camp but the fact that you care enough to send him there. 

historienne

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2014, 09:07:15 AM »
Is the camp JHU-CTY? I went as a kid, and it's stupid-expensive, but for me it was life changing.

Same.  And it definitely got me into a better college, not because having it on my CV mattered, but because making friends with a network of gifted kids was the only thing that kept me from spending all of high school severely depressed.  I teach college now, and I actually agree that the selectivity of a college doesn't matter as much as it seems.  It's true, I will go above and beyond for the really bright/motivated students at my school, which is only moderately selective.  But finding a way to be intellectually challenged in middle school and high school is very, very important for gifted kids to develop good habits and not feel totally alienated. 

strider3700

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #30 on: January 23, 2014, 12:30:06 AM »
4k is 2% of your yearly salary.    After a little math I spent almost 3% of my yearly salary on my 2 kids doing useful interesting courses/camps without thinking about it.   

I'm far more curious how you can have such a large mortgage and other outstanding debts when you make that much. 

Cheddar Stacker

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #31 on: January 23, 2014, 09:14:49 AM »
OP mentioned earlier somewhere a rough divorce, and a very recent, and very sharp increase in her earnings. Makes sense to me.

Random Hangers

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Re: $30K bonus -- what to do
« Reply #32 on: January 27, 2014, 09:53:14 AM »
@ch12 - Once I got a subject I didn't instantly understand or learn, I didn't know what to do (but the bars were open...).

Same here (only without the bars, lol). Kids need to have work that challenges them, or they won't learn how to rise above when they're challenged later. My grades took a hit when I went to college because I'd never before had to work at anything. It took me awhile to adjust to real study habits, something I wish I'd learned at a younger age.

A $4k doesn't sound very Mustachian (are there any other, lower-cost gifted camps/meetings/groups in your area?), but if that's what your kid needs to stimulate his mind and/or fit in, it's an understandable desire.