I just signed a non-refundable contract to send my daughter to a $34,000 kindergarten. My husband is OK with this but he doesn’t worry about saving for retirement or buying a home as much as I do. We’ll probably be the only parents at the school who rent! I feel sick about this and to make matters worse, my husband is acting like my unease is a personal attack on him. But I can’t help thinking about all the things $34,000 could buy or the number of needy children it could feed. Is my daughter’s education more important?
Sincerely, Looking for a Second Job and Not Planning any Vacations
The good news is your sickness is actually a sign of health. The bad news is you’re going to meet a lot of people on your husband’s side, you’ll be outnumbered, and in another year you’ll be plunking down $36,000 for first grade and feeling proud of yourself. Is your daughter worth it? Let’s face it, we wouldn’t over-populate the planet if we weren’t genetically programmed to put our families first. It’s not as though you’re abandoning society: your taxes are still paying for the public schools your neighbors’ kids go to, and guess what else? That 34K K will be hitting you up for their charity drive before your next tuition installment is even due—right after they sell your name to “Affluent Addresses R Us”.
In other news, your daughter won’t be the only student not arriving at school in a chauffeured SUV. Many of her fellow school bus riders, in fact, will be unsticking their thighs from those black vinyl seats courtesy of financial aid (or its hypocritical cousin, grandparental aid). Befriending the parents of those kids might help you clarify your perspective. Maybe you’ll decide you’d rather have a summer home in the mountains. Or maybe you’ll make peace with the price of tuition—but if you start feeling good about it, see a doctor.
Good luck, TinyMom