Author Topic: Selling house to move to better school zone?  (Read 9189 times)

Renner

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Selling house to move to better school zone?
« on: August 26, 2012, 02:29:49 PM »
Hello, I am a first time poster.

Situation: 

-age 39, female.  Registered nurse, work part-time.  Husband is 40, self-employed.

-30k in credit card debt.

-Homeowner.  Have owned house for approximately 14 years.  We will have house paid off in 3 years or so.  We owe 13k. 

-Income is around 65-75k/year, combined.

-Paid 105,000 for our house in 1998.  Have house on market with real estate broker for 147,000.  Will pay 6% of sale price when sold to broker(s).

-Moving because we have two school-age kids.  Elementary school was fine.  Eldest kid now in middle school (6th grade).  School started last week.  We applied to for a variance to go to a "better" middle school in the same district.  Because of overcrowding we were denied.  We appealed twice and were denied all times.  Kid went to "bad" urban middle school last week.  No problems really.  He is in advanced classes.  Many people in my neighborhood, and surrounding neighborhoods, lie to get into "better" schools in the same district.  I was not comfortable doing that and decided to follow protocol and go the variance route.  Because we were denied, we panicked a bit and put our house on the market.

-Inventory is low in the desired school zone in the same district.  While our house is not the Taj Mahal, we like it.  It's a nice house in a nice neighborhood.  When we look at other houses in the "better school zone" they are much pricier and not in good shape.  We would need to spend money on repairs. 

-If we moved our quality of life would not change much.  We would have a longer mortgage.  I don't know if this financially responsible. 

-I think kid would be fine at current middle school with bad reputation.  None of his friends are there and the school has its share of problems.  On the other hand, it's new and class sizes are small.  We are not interested in private education (not much to choose from in our area). We aren't interested in homeschooling or virtual school.  There are no magnets or charters.  We live in Central Florida in a pretty large school district.  There are three middle schools in my immediate area.  My kid is attending the worst one.  I would have to move or lie and produce fraudulent documents to get into desired school.

-Penalty to break contract is 500 dollars.  Have been working with realtor for one week.  She has been working hard and to complicate factors she is a neighbor (lives on same street in same subdivision) and acquaintance from high school.

-90% of me wants to break the contract and pay the 500 dollars and get my house off market.  We received two solid offers the first day it was on market.  We let those offers expire.  They are still interested as far as I know and could submit new offers.  We are in no hurry to settle or pay top dollar for a downgrade.  Our kids are our first priority but it is painful to spend anywhere from 90-110k to get into another house.  We will clear around 119,000 once we pay off house, taxes, real estate commission. 

-the high-school we are currently zoned for has a bad reputation as well.  We wanted to move to get into the "better" middle and high schools.  None are perfect.  The high-school we would like to move to is nationally ranked and has IB program, excellent athletics, arts, etc. It is overcrowded by 1000 students. 

-What is the wise thing to do here?  Move for the kids or stay put?  I feel kids could get good education at current schools but we do want the best for them and are still uneasy sending them to current middle school.  On the other hand, I want to stay in my house and pay off credit cards instead of mortgage.  Any advice appreciated.

James

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 03:21:38 PM »
You have 30k in credit card debit and you are worried about your kids school?

Stay where you are.  Do not pay $500, just tell your realtor you no longer want to sell and won't show the house.  She can do whatever she wants, but she can't take your $500.

Focus on paying off the credit cards and giving your children the best education you can with your current school.  Doesn't sound like your current school is a problem, but obviously if it becomes a huge problem that could give you reason to change things.  But not at this point.

You are in a debt emergency, I think that should be your focus.
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/18/news-flash-your-debt-is-an-emergency/

Another Reader

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2012, 03:43:35 PM »
I agree with James about paying off the debt.  Your debt is an emergency and needs to be addressed.  Why are you $30,000 in credit card debt?  That's nearing half your total annual income.  Are you consistently living beyond your means?  Have you and your husband made a plan to reduce expenditures and to pay off this debt?

With regard to the house and the schools, your comments raise more questions.  First, as far as the real estate contract is concerned, a penalty to cancel a listing contract is pretty unusual.  I own property in the West, so maybe the protocols are different in Florida.  I would never sign a listing contract with a penalty nor would I sign on with a buyer's agent that required me to sign an exclusive representation agreement.

Part of the decision to move is the price you can get for the old house vs. what it would cost to move.  What did the two buyers offer for your house?  Are you sure the property was listed at fair market value if you received two offers the first day?

With $30,000 in credit card debt on your income, you may qualify for less mortgage.  Have you talked to lenders to see if purchasing a new home is even feasible?

Although the better middle and high school have good reputations, I would be concerned if the high school was 1,000 students above its capacity.  Is that school really able to offer a superior education?  Does the choice of middle and high school affect where your child is likely to be accepted for college?  Are there gang, drug or other social problems that make the current school unpleasant or dangerous for your child to attend?

If you are only working part time, can you become more involved in the current school and supervise your child's education more closely?

In your shoes, I would come up with a plan to cut spending and pay off the credit cards.  I would examine the school situation closely and become more involved.  I would also consider increasing my work hours temporarily to get on top of the credit cards.   Then and only then would I consider moving.

Nords

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 08:10:51 PM »
Kid went to "bad" urban middle school last week.  No problems really.  He is in advanced classes.  Many people in my neighborhood, and surrounding neighborhoods, lie to get into "better" schools in the same district.  I was not comfortable doing that and decided to follow protocol and go the variance route.  Because we were denied, we panicked a bit and put our house on the market.
-I think kid would be fine at current middle school with bad reputation.  None of his friends are there and the school has its share of problems.  On the other hand, it's new and class sizes are small.
What exactly do "bad" and "problems" mean?  You say that it has a bad rep, but "new" and "small class size" seem like good things.

A Gates Foundation study claims that the #1 correlation with great student performance is... the number of books the parents have in the house.  That's a correlation, not necessarily causation, but perhaps it's a proxy for parent involvement in the learning process.  In other words, if you're involved then it may not matter what reputation the school has.  In our case, the real value in middle school & high school came from the advanced classes and the AP classes.

Does the middle school variance policy allow switching to some other school to take advanced classes that aren't offered at the school you're using now?

You say your son's friends aren't at his school.  When our daughter started middle school she ended up making a bunch of new friends that didn't live in her immediate neighborhood.  When she started high school (and everyone got more mobile) she made another bunch of new friends.  So maybe the friends issue isn't so bad as it might seem.

What opinions does your son have?  Does he want to change neighborhoods to change schools?

Another Reader

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 08:26:05 PM »
Another option would be to sell your current house, pay off all your debts and rent something in your preferred school district.  You would have the schools you want and be debt free.  Once you and your husband had your spending under control, you could save up a larger down payment for a nicer house in the preferred district.

kisserofsinners

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 09:34:01 PM »
If you read "The 2 income trap" it goes into parents buying into "better" school districs. The moral of the story is that the homes are still overpriced (even in the busrt side of the bubble) and it doesn't greatly improve your childs outcome.

In addition to those points, puting your kids with other kids in the over priced neighborhoods exposes them to more consumerism and will increase your costs overall for all sorts of hard to plan things.

...And yes, deal with that debt first, even if you deside to move.

Renner

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2012, 06:10:56 AM »
Excellent points.  Thank you for taking the time to reply.  Credit card debt is mostly my fault.  I spend on clothes and shoes and lots of other stuff over the years that is long gone or forgotten about.  Little stuff on regular basis over time equals massive debt. It's stupid and I hate that we are in so much debt.  We own both of our vehicles, will own our home in three years, have low property taxes, don't spend that much nowadays, and we make a pretty good living.  We need to get out of credit card debt.

My husband is thinking of taking 7% loan to pay off credit card and then paying that down.  Interest rate would be better at 7%.   Is this a good idea?

We were approved for 110 or so.  If we sold our house, after taxes and mortgage were paid, we would be left with approximately 119. 

We aren't moving.  We are staying put.  Can't bear to pay higher prices and higher taxes.

Advanced classes available at both schools.  Kid would be fine at any school.  We are feeling the pressure and parental anxiety.  I can go back and forth on this issue until the cows come home.  I don't know what to do really.  I think we should leave him there.  He is a good-natured kid, motivated, smart.  He is not unhappy.  He says he wants to leave and go to other school were friends are but he is not miserable.  He has made friends already at current "bad" school.  Husband wants him to go to school that is more overcrowded and closer to our home.  He thinks he will have better chance there.  I am not so sure.  We are a family of readers.  Always had and have books in the house.  Our kids score top marks on state standardized tests.  There is no way out of current zoned school unless we move or fabricate documents.

Thanks again for the thoughtful answers.

James

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2012, 07:31:05 AM »
My husband is thinking of taking 7% loan to pay off credit card and then paying that down.  Interest rate would be better at 7%.   Is this a good idea?

Any time you can get a lower interest rate for the money you borrow it's a good thing.  Having said that, there are complex issues that come into play for people who build credit card debt.  The highest priority is to stop spending the money that created the debt, and the second is to pay it back.  Sometimes when people refinance credit card debt into a lower separate loan with payment they simply allow themselves to dig the hole deeper.  They pay the small required payments and start building the credit card debt back up.  For them, the best option might be to keep that debt on the card in order to force them to make it an emergency and create new habits using that force.

But if you have implemented changes and structure that will prevent this from happening again then I'd work on getting it even lower than 7%.  You should be able to take a second mortgage on the house for very low rates right now, and that interest is tax deductible.  Put your credit cards in the freezer (figuratively or literally) and get the debt locked in at a nice low rate and get it paid off.  (If you don't mind me asking, what changes are in place to make sure you aren't spending on the card like you were before?)

It's very positive that you are concerned about your son's education, it speaks well of you that you would consider a move simply to get him into the best school.  That level of determination is terrific, even though moving isn't the best option for you at this point.  Channel that energy into you all the things you already know will help him and I'm sure he will do very well!

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2012, 07:58:24 AM »
You might qualify for some zero percent balance transfers with other cards.  As long as you pay off the amount transferred in the time period given, paying the transfer fee can may be a good deal.  Then take the savings from the lower payments and plow that money into reducing the debt, along with any other money you can find.  Selling excess stuff may help to raise the needed money.

The most important key to cleaning this up is to stop the spending that got you into the mess in the first place.  Getting out of debt will likely reduce your stress level and with less stress you can make better decisions about the future.

JohnGalt

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2012, 08:38:54 AM »
You keep saying that the house will be paid off in 3 years.  Are you doing accelerated payments on the house? 

If so, stop immediately.  That money needs to go towards the high interest credit card debt.  As was mentioned earlier - this is an emergency and everything you do financially right now should be focused on paying off that debt and making sure you never get in that situation again. 

kisserofsinners

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2012, 10:43:41 AM »
You might qualify for some zero percent balance transfers with other cards.  As long as you pay off the amount transferred in the time period given, paying the transfer fee can may be a good deal.  Then take the savings from the lower payments and plow that money into reducing the debt, along with any other money you can find.  Selling excess stuff may help to raise the needed money.

Be careful with the balance transfer cards...They are not "easy money". They are generally a pain in the ass to actually benefit from. If you are a total control freak and never miss a payment and never go over and never mess up their rules. They have a great deal of rules and they certainly make you work for it. Just FYI... I did three annual cycles of balance transfers while working to get out of debt, but i was messing around with $10k. Dealing with $30k will be easier with the credit you've built from paying for your house.

That 7% sounds nice and straight forward and it gives you a chance to stop using the cards and develop new habits. I would do that to keep things simple for yourself. I'd close all retail CCs and keep one at a zero balance with your bank/CU. You don't need to build credit so even one isn't needed. Feel it out and figure what will work for you.

Do you think you can handle having a card and not use it impulsively? Do you consider yourself to be someone who makes financial decisions while emotionally triggered?

If you don't feel like you have a handle on your credit card use, I would quit cold turkey and get the 7% loan.

If you think you have it under control and you enjoy playing with a tweaking your money for optimization, go for the 0% cards or reward cards to maximize your payments.

It totally depends on you as a person. It's not worth the extra risk if you won't follow through and only *you* know the answer to that.

You keep saying that the house will be paid off in 3 years.  Are you doing accelerated payments on the house? 

If so, stop immediately.  That money needs to go towards the high interest credit card debt.  As was mentioned earlier - this is an emergency and everything you do financially right now should be focused on paying off that debt and making sure you never get in that situation again.

2nded the no extra payments to the house with the CC debt. With interest rates as low as they are today, it doesn't make sense to pay the house off early.

totoro

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2012, 11:55:57 AM »
I would simply rent a small suite in the desired area to change the schools and apply to transfer.  I considered doing this but we were accepted anyway.  I don't know what the rules are where you live, but where we live, once you are in you can stay.  If it is the same where you are this means that once registered you can give up the suite and move back in.

This is way cheaper than moving and accomplishes the same goal.  You may find some interesting uses for the suite too - like after school homework and hang-out area for the kids and a place for relatives and friends to stay when they visit. I do believe schools make a difference having experienced schools in different types of catchments.

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2012, 04:03:12 PM »
Will all three middle schools go to the same high school? If so, moving for the sake of middle school isn't worth it.

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2012, 04:51:56 PM »
After working in the school system for several years, I can say that the most successful students are the ones who succeed in spite of the public school system and not because of it. If your child is in AP classes then I think you have nothing to worry about, unless "bad urban school" = significant gang activity.

ShavenLlama

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2012, 05:36:48 PM »
My neighborhood growing up had me in the "bad" school for Jr high, then I filtered into the best High School in the district, which is still one of the best in the state. I was perfectly happy in the crappy Jr High, I had a lot of friends, I did great in my classes. Then I went to the Best High School Ever, and I HATED it. All the kids were richies. Super stuck-up. I still did fine in my classes, even though it was supposed to be an advanced school, but I just couldn't put up with the egos from the other students.

I got a transfer variance for 10th grade into one of the average high schools in the district. I could definitely tell the difference in the teaching styles, but I took more of the college prep courses versus basic courses (Biology instead of just Life Science, Geometry and Algebra 2 instead of Math A and Math B). The advanced courses are held to the same standard in the "good" schools as the "bad" schools.

I would say that 1) it doesn't matter where your kid goes to Jr High. Unless there is a legitimate problem with classmates (bullies, wanna-be gang bangers), he'll fare just fine. In real life he's going to have to deal with people from a lot of different backgrounds; it won't hurt to start learning that now.
2) When he gets to HS, get him in some AP/IB courses, or at least the College Prep track. And encourage him to play sports or band or something.
Unless he's planning to go to an Ivy League college, I wouldn't worry about WHERE he gets his public education, only that he puts in the effort and does the best he can.

I know people will disagree with me, but school really is what you make it. And it's not as bad as the news shows want you to think it is. I went to elementary schools in Lynwood, CA and Paramount, CA and I lived to tell the tale. ;)


I won't berate you about your debt, but I DO want you to get a copy of Your Money or Your Life and start reading it. I wish I had about 10 years ago! :)

totoro

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2012, 06:01:57 PM »
My son's grades went up dramatically when we changed him to a school in a better district.   He mentioned to me several times that the kids at the school were a less harsh and the spirit of the school was better. 

I think school culture makes a big difference for a lot of kids, but not all.   Just gotta monitor it I suppose.

smalllife

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2012, 06:18:17 PM »
Stay with the "bad" school, except start by cutting out the "better" vs. "bad".  It doesn't do anyone any good. 

The "better" school just has richer parents, more peer pressure, inflated grades, and fewer life experiences.  Smaller classes will do more than higher property taxes in helping your son achieve his goals.  And I say this as someone who purposefully avoided the "better" school - there are more important things in life than sharing a hallway with the people whose parents buy them BMWs and Lexus' all for the sake of having the "better" image.  The education really isn't all that different if he sticks to honors and AP classes.

Renner

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2012, 07:25:09 PM »
Enjoy reading these replies.  Thank you.  They are very helpful.

I cut up my credit card a few months ago.  I have not charged anything since then.  This cut up card is the card with the highest debt.  It's a joint credit card.  It is a reward card.  1% cash back.   

My husband has a Discover on his own but still has a balance.  It is a reward card. 1% cash back.

We always pay well over the required payment on credit cards but we don't get too far, especially on the joint card.  It's high interest.  I don't even know, isn't that terrible.  Probably 17%!  My husband's logic is that he'd rather leave it with a higher balance than to pay it off and watch me charge it up again.  It has happened before.  Not, 0-30K but enough.  I was very immature, I suppose.  Too busy buying stuff to numb or keep up, who the hell knows.  Now I committed to paying cash only and I want to close account once it is paid off.

I think the 7% might be a better idea for us.  I will run the 0% card idea by my husband and see what he thinks.  I think most of them only allow you to transfer so much. 

I haven't charged in three months and a while before that I was charging gas and not much else.  We don't own or use department store credit cards.  If you met us you would think we were practical people.  The reality is that we are in massive debt.  It's not hopeless though.  We are confident we can get a lower interest rate, stop charging, and pay our debt off.

Our mortgage payment is $190 every two weeks.  We do not pay above and beyond our required payment.   We had very large down payment when we bought the house and have a 20 year/bimonthly mortgage.

I think we have a way to get kid into better middle school legally.  His current middle school does have wanna be gang bangers but it's nothing terrible.  Either way, he will be fine.   When it is time for it, we will avoid "best" high-school that is overcrowded and send him to zoned high-school.

Thanks again for the answers and allowing me to post on this forum.  I am new and I really appreciate the advice and comments. 

Another Reader

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2012, 08:01:21 PM »
Being confident you can do something is not the same as buckling down and actually doing it.  If you are not 100 percent sure you can handle credit, then closing the account and getting a personal loan to pay it off would be a better solution.  Maybe your husband can pay off his Discover card and use it for the rewards.  If he also has a problem with credit, then that account should be closed.  It sounds like the two of you have trust issues over money. especially the credit cards, so getting everything out in the open and taking away the temptation to spend might help resolve those issues.

You can also try to get the rates reduced.  Sometimes a phone call is all it takes.  If you have a balance transfer offer in hand when you make the call, that offer can be used as leverage to get the creditor to reduce the interest rate.  If you tell them you are paying them 17 percent and you have a zero percent balance transfer offer for $10,000 with a 3 percent transfer fee from the XYZ Bank, the call center person will probably have a screen in front of him that tells him what counter offer to make.  No counter offer?  Make the transfer and call back when the next good offer shows up in the mailbox.

It sounds like the school is important to you and your son.  If you have a way of making it work, give it a shot.  If it turns out not to be what you and your son want, it's easy to go back.

In your shoes, I would consider increasing my hours until I had a better handle on the debt.  Can you work a schedule that won't increase your child care costs?  Think how nice it would be to pay off the debt a year or two earlier and get on with your life.  It might be worth the short term sacrifice to get that accomplished.

Renner

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2012, 06:43:52 AM »
Being confident you can do something is not the same as buckling down and actually doing it.  If you are not 100 percent sure you can handle credit, then closing the account and getting a personal loan to pay it off would be a better solution.

Absolutely.  I am 100 percent sure I can handle it.  I don't have access to a credit card.  My credit card, with my name on it, is destroyed.  The only way I can charge is if I took my husband's card (joint account) out of his wallet and shopped on the internet.  I have not shopped on internet for a while.  I have no desire to use credit.  I am done.  I want to pay it off.  We are researching our options today. 

Picking up a shift or two would be an option.  I have this job where I am part-time but also pick up shifts when co-workers go on vacation or are out for whatever reason.  Some weeks I am working twice a week, some I am working four.  I am their yes man.  Whenever somebody needs to be out I am the person who is always saying I can work.  So, if I picked up a couple of shifts in the hospital I would not be able to be that person and it would make things a bit more complicated.  I love my job and will be offered full-time position once a person retires, which will be soon.  I work for a big hospital system but work in outpatient care.  If I do inpatient and outpatient, the outpatient boss would have to hire another person to be the fill-in person. I'm the fill-in person.

Thanks again for all advice. 

herisff

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2012, 07:11:42 AM »
Picking up a shift or two would be an option... <snip> Whenever somebody needs to be out I am the person who is always saying I can work.  So, if I picked up a couple of shifts in the hospital I would not be able to be that person and it would make things a bit more complicated.  I love my job and will be offered full-time position once a person retires, which will be soon.

How soon is "soon"? You are in a debt emergency - any extra you can pull in will help. As you work in a hospital, you could pick up other shifts as a per diem nurse. This might be an option for the short term if your facility allows you to do this. That way you could still fill in on the outpatient side but also pick up shifts on the inpatient side. As long as you are clear that the outpatient side gets first dibs on you, then everyone should be (mostly) happy and you can pay down your debt faster.

I suggest charting your debt every month, with how much less you owe getting marked. It's very motivating (it's how I paid off my mortgage). Some people post it on their wall, I just had it on my computer. Visualizing how much you owe and seeing the amounts decrease kept me motivated and very aware of my actions. I would chart all your debt, including both cards and the mortgage, and any other debt not previously mentioned. It made being on call and all the overtime worth it!

ShavenLlama

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Re: Selling house to move to better school zone?
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2012, 11:50:12 AM »
The best motivator I had when I was coming out of credit debt was looking at the statements and cussing myself for the absurd amount that was going to interest each month.

What worked for me (and may or may not work for others) was to get an AmEx, which I purchased my necessities (gas, groceries, beer). You HAVE to pay them off monthly. I set the alerts to tell me when I hit $500 for the month, then spending stopped (or came as close as possible). This freed up the rest of my discretionary spending for the debt on the other cards. I also had to force myself to stay out of the mall and make a Target list, only allowing myself to hit Target once a month. Forgot something? Oh well, next month!
Watching the interest billed each month on the interest bearing cards go from $60, to $55, and on down was great motivation for me. If I had left my daily charging on the regular cards instead of the AmEx, it wouldn't have been so dramatic and I probably would have given up.

Back to the school argument, is it very beneficial to move your son from the school he is at (and has already started making friends) to a new school, especially now that the new school kids will have formed thier cliques already? And then send him to the zoned HS, where he will have to start all over AGAIN with new friends, instead of moving up with his Jr High buddies?