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Independant education - are we overstretching ourselves?

(112 Posts)
Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 15:49:32

We are in very early stages here of just looking into options. Have just done some figures and after paying all bills/expenses for our home etc, were we to send DD to private school we would have an average of £300 left per month for anything non essential (and that would have to cover cost of clothes and going out etc but not petrol/insurances/food/bills/mortgage). Does this sound unreasonable or doable? We would certainly not be able to save anything (we try to now but not a huge amount) and would struggle when things need doing on the house/we need a new car etc, but we would be able to live and eat, go on one cheapish weeks holiday a year, have a nice but budgeted life. To me education is very important, but I don't know if I'm over reaching things here and would be interested in opinions on how this sounds, it's so much money for us but can you put a price on a good education... thanks

Mendi Thu 08-Aug-13 15:51:15

Fabricmum, thank you for your reply to my post. It's wonderful that your DS has found his niche despite an unsupportive educational experience. To be honest, what your DS has achieved, I would be delighted with for my DS - he also has an interest in computers and so on, which I'm trying to encourage despite no understanding myself. I totally get that some kids just don't "get" education, or perhaps others don't get it for ages and then just wake up one day when something sparks their interest. However, some never get that and I just worry that my DS could be one. Private school is no guarantee of success, but I just feel that he is more likely to be interested in the smaller class/specialist teacher environment. You can only give your kids the best opportunities you can manage, can't you? It's up to them to make something of them. Well done to your DS - you must be so proud of him.

LIZS Thu 08-Aug-13 15:56:38

Presumably also there is also likelihood that your other expenses will rise - petrol, utilities , council tax etc - over time as well as general cost of living . Will your income rise ? Also you are assuming that your dd gets a 11+ place , you need to consider all the options just in case she doesn't or the system changes in the meantime. Private secondary will definitely cost much more than your average for primary.

fabricmum Thu 08-Aug-13 17:48:39

Mendi- Yes my DH and I are very proud of him, those adolescent years are so hard! He's come a long way. I will never forget, however, the hard slog those secondary school years were.
I think with the private versus state debate; your damned if do, damned if you don't.
If you can afford it, do it. If you can't, don't even try because it gradually wear you down and make everyone miserable and very, very tired!
I guess moving them from primary isn't going to matter too much, moving them at secondary would have an impact (in my opinion) if the fees or circumstances change dramatically.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Aug-13 18:02:41

I think surviving on £300 a month is all very well if you have to survive on that (and of course people survive on less) but choosing to is a whole different issue. What happens if you make this sacrifice and your dd doesn't do well at school? I know someone who wasn't happy with the effort their dc was making at school so drove them to the gates of the local state school and told them that this would be where they would be going if they didn't try harder. The child was 5 and subsequently diagnosed with SENs.

I could imagine feeling very resentful at the sacrifices you have to make if your dc doesn't do well at school.

Have you factored in holiday clubs into your budget (assuming you work)?

lljkk Thu 08-Aug-13 18:07:16

I suggest go to that budget NOW. Give yourself £70/week for all non-essentials. See how easy or hard you find it to live on it for next 6 months. Then you will know.

Reastie Thu 08-Aug-13 18:49:49

bisjo I work in a school myself so I have school holidays off so no huge childcare worries on that front (work in a private school!).

Llj I am indeed now on that budget. We shall see how we go with it.

teacher I've factored in fee increases (well, guessing increases) and tbh we would not want to release equity unless there was no other option, but we have some savings if needed. If we had to then we had to but it would be a last resort.

Let's see how the next few months go and how we cope hmm

mendi and bis very interesting comments

difficultpickle Thu 08-Aug-13 19:06:56

Does your school term completely coincide with the school you are proposing to send your dd to? Ds has been to two private schools so far, both in the same area and they didn't have the same term times as each other or at two other local private schools. It is worth checking and then working out what you would do if you need to find childcare. Also what will you do when your dd says she wants to go to tennis holiday camp with her school friends? I'm thinking the usual daily holiday activities rather than going away for a week.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Aug-13 19:10:49

I had to survive on very little when I was made redundant and even though I thankfully only had to do it for two months I found it soul destroying. I wasn't used to living like that (although I am definitely not profligate) and found it hard. Little things like not being able to afford treats like expensive breakfast cereal or trips to the cinema. Having to watch every single penny and that impacts more widely. Not being able to go to a mums' night out as I couldn't afford to spend £30-£40 on dinner in an evening.

lljkk Thu 08-Aug-13 19:58:06

I think my budget is about £100 per person for "extras" which I am finding quite difficult.

Tasmania Thu 08-Aug-13 20:05:35

OP - I would look at what you spend on the 'essentials'. Not sure how much you and your DH earn, but when I looked at our 'essential' expenditure (as DH calls them, i.e. food, bills - not housing), I was a little shocked. DH kept on telling me that the money we spend on the essentials is normal and I had to tell him that other families have to survive on what we merely spend on essentials.

After careful money management (not too careful - still went out a few times), we slashed it by half this month compared to last... which came as a surprise to DH.

lljkk Thu 08-Aug-13 20:23:09

Good point. When I asked MNers to share their spending recently, I put answers into one of 3 types: core fixed costs (maintenance, work-related commuting, utilities, council tax, pension, but not including mortgage or rent), Tier 2 (some room for tweaking, like food, clothes, non-work related transport & mobiles) and then "optionals". Some items were fuzzy to place, so this is just approximate. The average spends were

Core household: £486
Tier2: £459
Optional: £470.

How does that compare to what you have, Reastie?

SlowlorisIncognito Thu 08-Aug-13 21:48:43

What happens if something goes wrong with your second property? What if you need to do repairs on it, or you have a void period? Would you be able to absorb these costs? I understand you have some emergancy savings, but they don't sound enough to absorb repairs/running costs on two houses plus a car over the course of 7 years.

Obviously you have the option to remorgage your home, or possibly sell the second property, but these things take time, and you could end up very stretched. I would think up some contingency plans for a worst case scenario at the very least, if you haven't already.

Reastie Fri 09-Aug-13 07:47:53

tasmania yes you're right, if we needed to we could cut down on the food bill (we don't count every penny and overly careful but we do watch what we spend/have a budget I stick to, I can imagine if needed we could easily cut that back a bit).

Well Ll I don't have a mobile bill as I put on about £20 a year, so that ones easy wink . Tbh I couldn't tell you how much exactly are on each of our optional budgets, all I know is we have £1k a month in our bills/food/insurance/essentials budget. We would likely use this account if we went out as a family. Occasionally we run short if we've had alot of outgoings but equally sometimes we have excess building up we move to savings/use on house improvements etc. This could probably be budgeted better/we could reduce this if we had to.

slow this is another issue. We have to replace the kitchen in the other property next year, even cheaply that's an expense we need to save for. We had problems with a non paying tennant leading to eviction last year and then the property was empty for a couple of months. We struggled more than normal.

middleclassonbursary Fri 09-Aug-13 08:13:32

"yes you're right, if we needed to we could cut down on the food bill (we don't count every penny and overly careful but we do watch what we spend/have a budget I stick to, I can imagine if needed we could easily cut that back a bit)"
We do not "cut down" on the food bill in fact our food bill is relatively large because of my commitment to fair trade and UK produced high welfare standard foods although I don't drink alcohol in fact no vices (I'm a bit boring). We don't have money to eat out, go to the theatre, opera ballet, weekends away (only one holiday a yr but we are lucky enough to live in a fantastic area) etc, our big issue is that neither of us have been able to afford decent dentistry in 13 yrs. We're not dressed in Primark clothes (that would be against my principles) but we lot clad in expensive clothes either, cars are old the youngest is 8 yrs old but well looked after but old cars are of course more likely to go wrong and consume more petrol, a really big thing for us is that we spend over a £100 a week on petrol and it just keep getting more expensive..
Its so easy when you start paying fees to think that "cutting down" on the food and other important things in life will will be OK and some people relish the challenge of cutting corners at every turn but believe me I dont think it is. Its having to do it week in week out for the next 15 years I think you might find living this kind of life is quite draining. The prospect of being able to pay of the fees completely (however sad the reason for being able to do this) has completely changed both my husbands and my outlook on life my husband already looks better and its just an overwhelming relief, I can't put into words how it feels even in the midst of enormous sadness.

DocMarten Fri 09-Aug-13 08:17:28

Best thing we ever did was go private.

Just remember to factor in all the extras, of which there are many including foreign trips of at least one or 2 per child per year.

DocMarten Fri 09-Aug-13 08:18:18

Must add that the trips are optional, but worth scraping the money to send them on as they are well worthwhile.

middleclassonbursary Fri 09-Aug-13 09:04:34

Our extras are not too bad and we literally pay for every pencil, pen, piece of paper, text book (they board). In the first term of senior school it was over £500 a term but text books ect were being bought this term it was less than £60. No compulsory foreign trips in the first or second yr although loads and loads of optional ones to far flung parts of the world but places were often limited to only 10 - 15- on each trip. Next yr my DS will go on a first come first serve as the places were very limited exchange visit but I have to say very reasonably priced.

burberryqueen Fri 09-Aug-13 09:07:14

I wonder if a privit/independant skool wood help with her speling

middleclassonbursary Fri 09-Aug-13 09:19:17

As we all now use computers with spell checks I personally don't think its worth living a hand to mouth existence just possibly improve spelling!

amicissimma Fri 09-Aug-13 16:57:23

I see you're already 'practising' paying the fees, so should have an idea of how it feels to live on what's left over. Presumably you are paying this into a savings account, so you can use it to reduce the amount of termly bill coming from income?

I wouldn't get too hung up on 'extras', although it's a good idea to check with a particular school. IME, books and stationery are included, as are compulsory trips; the optional trips are similar to those offered by the state schools and uniform is considerably cheaper than the state school as there's a thriving secondhand 'shop' - which has been the case at every independent school I've known about and none of the state ones.

lljkk Sat 10-Aug-13 07:57:33

Compulsory hot dinners at many, adds an extra ~ £15/week (ouch).

cantsleep Sat 10-Aug-13 08:22:41

It is 'doable' on the figures you describe but would be difficult.

We are in a similar situation but are very low income yet dd goes to a private school (she has a bursary for the majority of fees) but we have to make up the rest and the uniform was not included. We usually have nothing left at the end of the month and often are overdrawn but due to complicated circumstances we felt it was important for dd to attend a particular school.

We obviously have to watch everything we spend, we have a holiday within the uk usually once every 2-3 years for a few days and keep other costs to a minimum. Our food shopping is sometimes quite depressing as never many 'treats' but we know we are doing it for a good reason.

We save all we can and once in a blue moon do have the occasional treat, recently dh had booked me a special day for my birthday which was lovely but the rest of the time we justgo without but that was our choice.

I think that you would probably manage OP especially with the added security of your second property. Def a good idea to practice living on the amounts you mention now to see how you will manage once your dd starts school. It is hard sacrificing so much for private education but really is worth it if you can.

ipadquietly Sat 10-Aug-13 14:31:15

I'd be so miserable being 'forced' to live on £300 per month (or less).

You guys must feel very, very confident that the private school system is going to lead to your dc's ultimate success. Don't you ever feel you're wasting your lives with all this sacrifice for something that is so unpredicable? (Genuinely interested - no offence meant!)

cantsleep Sat 10-Aug-13 22:31:08

To be fair, If dd was in perfect health we would have chosen the local (outstanding) state school but given her complex problems the very small local private school could meet her needs far better than the state.

We consider ourselves very lucky.

middleclassonbursary Sun 11-Aug-13 09:12:07

"You guys must feel very, very confident that the private school system is going to lead to your dc's ultimate success. Don't you ever feel you're wasting your lives with all this sacrifice for something that is so unpredictable? (Genuinely interested - no offence meant!)"
Ipad as I've already said we have more than £300 PCM left over but its still a huge pressure. Over the years we have repeatedly thought long and hard about what we're doing and there have defiantly been times when its not been worth it and we're not looking just for "ultimate success." But over all I have not regretted what we have done genuinely believing its better than any state option. I just want add that my DC's have nearly always full boarded and we are paying for the many opportunities that bring as well as academic excellence.

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