Monthly Money Check: Penny Just Can’t Spend Less Than $2,000 A Month

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Dear Rich,

Frickin-A. I just can’t seem to get under $2,000 a month in expenditures (not including the student loan payment)! I tell you, I will celebrate when that finally happens. I was only $61.31 away from it this month. It’s the school fees that keep creeping up on us. It’s a tuition payment in January, elementary registration fee in February, high school registration fee in March, high school supply fee in April, and now an elementary student fee in May. Blerg, again, I tell you!

Even though we’re getting financial aid, I was thinking of how much sending our kids to these private schools is costing us. With my oldest on her way to a private high school in the fall, as well as the middle two at a private elementary and middle school already, this will be our most expensive school year yet. In tuition alone, it will be $5,200. But just look at how all those other fees add up, that’s at least another $1,000. That’s around 15% of our income going to these private schools. But, as they say, where your money goes shows what you value, and we definitely do value these private schools for our kids, but… DANG!

Anywho, here’s how my numbers added up this month:


I had entertained the idea of re-allocating some of our charitable givings to go toward the private schools instead, but I really don’t want to do that. I want to be able to give close to 10% of our income, so we’re going to keep trying to do that.

Looking at our income for the first four months of this year, we’re at $12,979. If we keep up at that rate, that will make for a yearly total of $38,937, which is actually a little bit less than what we made last year. And now we’ll be paying roughly $3,600 more in school costs than we did last year. Hmm… I don’t like how this is adding up.

In other news, you know how I made that slideshow presentation Sex Matters when I talked to my kids about sex? Well, now I’m working on a slideshow presentation called Money Matters, where I will talk to them about money. My kids are starting to make money on their own now. My 14 year old babysits, my 11 year old is working as a caddy, my 7 year old does lemonade stands… I figured it’s time they learned a bit about money so they will do better and more important things with it then buy stupid fidget spinners.

I guess that’s it at that end. Here’s a year end look at where my money has gone:

How are you doing?


11 Replies to “Monthly Money Check: Penny Just Can’t Spend Less Than $2,000 A Month”

    1. Ah, but if I told you about my movie, Erik, then you could figure out my name, and my carefully chosen pseudonym would all be for naught. So, we will just have to live with the mystery for now, because hiding behind these pseudonyms makes it easier for Rich and I to talk about all the things that we do. Plus, my husband wouldn’t appreciate having his income aired for the world to see…
      Penny @ recently posted…Monthly Money Check: Penny Just Can’t Spend Less Than $2,000 A MonthMy Profile

  1. I’m missing something, you have four kids and are barely getting by. Why are you spending money on private schooling? You’ve got two nearly free options. Public school or home school. For all the criticism it gets public schools are wildly successful at providing a great education as long as there is at least one engaged parent monitoring the kids. And they are remarkably safe. And they are free. If you have a religious or libertarian hang up with public schools then why not home school? Don’t misunderstand that I’m telling you what to do, I’m not, I’m just confused trying to figure out why anyone would pay for something that’s free when they aren’t rich. I liked the fact that public school exposed my kids to the real world in a controlled fairly safe setting since college is uncontrolled and very unsafe.

    1. Ah, but here’s the thing, Steveark… despite all appearances and what the world (and Rich) like to think of us, we are not just getting by. We are living an intentional life filled with spending money on things that we value, one of those things being education.

      I am extremely picky about schooling. I homeschool my kids until they’re mid-elementary age. Then I send them to these private schools that are aligned with my educational values (not any private school will do, and if I hadn’t found these schools, I probably would still be homeschooling them). I am not impressed with what public schools have to offer. As I said, I am picky.

      So, that being said, we choose to spend money on the kids’ education. But we have the money to spend. If anything, we’ll just readjust the money we put toward my husband’s student loans every year, as we have a big chunk of money to play around with there that we do not *technically* have to be paying.

      (Here’s a link to a blog post with a pie chart on how much of our money went to his student loans last year:

      Because, when it comes down to it, I would value sending the kids to private school more than I would paying the student loans off sooner. Sure, maybe it will take us 15 years instead of 10 to pay of the loans, but that’s a trade-off we’re willing to make.

      So, again, to sum up… we are not just barely getting by. We are making the most of what we have and living a pretty good life with it.
      Penny @ recently posted…Monthly Money Check: Penny Just Can’t Spend Less Than $2,000 A MonthMy Profile

        1. That’s well thought out and certainly as parents you are the ones who determine what makes economic sense and what doesn’t. My spouse and my mom were public school teachers and all the members of both of our extended families went to public schools so I suppose I just have not been exposed to the private school concept except to hear people talk about how expensive they are. Certainly if I had thought it mattered in my kids futures, price wouldn’t have been an obstacle. I was just convinced private school had worked fine for me and everyone I knew. I’m really not qualified on private schools so my opinion has been decidedly one sided.

          “Just getting by” does look pretty judgy now that I look back. I apologize and did not mean to imply you were almost homeless, just that you were paying off some debt and had all the costs associated with families and weren’t yet financially independent. You certainly are on your way and there is no doubt you’ll be there sooner than just about anybody else because you are intentional and have a plan. Good luck on your financial journey and raising those kids and keep up the excellent blogging, writing, stuff you are doing!

          1. Thanks, Steveark. I was not offended by your comment. I’m putting this stuff out here for the world to see, so I have to be able to defend my position. This comment section helps keep me on my toes.

            I actually agree with you for the most part on the benefits of private schools over public ones. I would not send my kids to just any school because it is private. Most private schools seem to offer the same type of education as a public school, in my opinion. A private school has to offer something special, something in line with my values and philosophy on education… which is what I’ve found with the schools I’m sending my kids to.

            Maybe I’ll write more about my educational philosophy in another post.

            Thanks again for the comment. 🙂
            Penny @ recently posted…Monthly Money Check: Rich Spent More On 4 Items Than Penny Spent On Everything — May 2017My Profile

  2. Pen, I continue to be amazed at how low your spending is. When you can put $1.06 on your spreadsheet, it’s impressive. House repair? What can you repair for $1.06?

    And $33 on restaurants is also impressive. In the past 2 months you’ve spent $42 on restaurants. Our sushi takeout last night — one meal — was $73.

    These are lifestyle choices with real effects and you’re right, it’s all about values and trade-offs. I dare say if you had a higher income you’d be one of those secret millionaires pretty quickly. But then, you’d probably give the money away. Fascinating. Well done.
    Rich @ recently posted…Monthly Money Check: Rich Explains How He Meets Financial Goals Without A Budget — April 2017My Profile

  3. May was a bit more expensive than usual for us since we went on vacation and indulged on some of the local cuisine. My wife and I like to explore new restaurants when we go to places. So we budget it in but it still a little bit of a surprise when we see the food bill for the month 🙂

  4. Do you have a “freecycle” or “buy nothing” group in your area? If so, you might be able to borrow a tiller from someone.

    We lent ours out to a family and even dropped it off for them (and ended up spending the afternoon, our kids played with their farm animals). There was no expectation of payment but they gave us a dozen eggs and two bars of homemade soap. I hope they borrow our tiller every year 😉

    Looking forward to your humourous banter in the future.

    Besos Sarah.

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