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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

derektheladyhamster Mon 05-Aug-13 15:51:06

It's probably more than we have left over! As long as we can feed/clothe and house ourselves I'm happy.

musicalfamily Mon 05-Aug-13 16:02:03

Have you factored in things like:
Cost of uniform
School trips
Extra chargeable lessons, e.g. music
You don't say if this is for primary or secondary school, obviously they will be scaled up for secondary in terms of how expensive they are.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 05-Aug-13 16:06:59

It's 'doable' but it's not fun. All you'll do is work and pay the bills. As musicalfamily points out, does it include the uniform/lunches/trips etc? Do you have a separate allowance for emergencies (new fridge) or Christmas/birthdays? Also school fees tend to rise per year, sometimes by 3.5%, sometimes more as it depends on the school. If you have a good state school near by then you should look into sending her there and doing extra activities with the money that you save.

homebythesea Mon 05-Aug-13 16:07:33


Have you factored in 4-5% increases in fees year on year - will your income keep up with that? Have you factored in extras such as uniforms, trips, books, lunches, after school care all or some of which will not be included

How old is your DD ie how many years are you looking at? Are you likely to get any inheritances in that period - venal I know but worth thinking about. Any further children to consider?

Is it really sensible to live without any kind of financial cushion? What happens when the boiler blows up, the clutch on the car goes, you get ill and need to take time off work etc etc etc

What is it about the private school you think will provide a benefit that will trump your limited financial future? I honestly think that unless your alternatives are truly dire the benefit of a private education are not worth the stress you may be putting your family under to find the fees. Being able to tutor where necessary and go on trips and holidays and do dancing or music or sport or whatever to provide experiences and education outside of school might be a better way to spend less money to get the same outcome

<disclaimer - our children have been privately educated but it's never been a struggle financially and I think that my kids would have done equally well in the state sector as it's turned out>

Howstricks Mon 05-Aug-13 16:12:15

We have managed so far. I guess it is important to think of a plan b if your financial situation changes and yes, factor in the extras like uniform, trips etc. We have never regretted it and both kids have been very happy but we have had to cut down in other areas and plan ahead.

Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 16:33:15

Thanks for the quick replies. It's for primary (she's going into the nursery soon so we want to pick a nursery she would continue through to the school). We have 11+ here so it would be in the hope she would be in grammar for secondary, but go on to private secondary if we had to.

We do have savings for essential problems of a few k so we do have somewhat of a fall back if anything goes wrong with the house etc, but would struggle to replace the car easily (by the time DD would finish primary school it would be as old as she is)

I have incorporated fees and lunches into the cost along with expected fee increases, but not uniform (we would get second hand, the school has an outlet for this) or extra's/trips (I don't know how much to budget for this. I've asked the school how much to expect for this and they just say they keep it as low and reasonable as they can and they don't charge for text books). She would only use late stay and school buses very occasionally and extra lessons (eg music lessons) we might not do through the school in any case (but these would be an extra cost granted)

We are unlikely to get any inheritances in this period but my parents are paying half the fees (we wouldn't be able to afford it at all otherwise) so the prices I've said are for us paying half fees.

I'm concerned about expectations DD will have to have huge expensive birthday parties/designer clobber etc, but hopefully she'll understand.

Home our local state is awful, simply awful, I would do anything other than send her there. Having worked in state vs independant and been educated in state then grammar and a sister educated in private the thing that pulls me to private is the small class sizes, nurturing environment, high expectations, more individualised care, support and teaching. It's so hard to know what the best thing to do is though...

invicta Mon 05-Aug-13 16:35:40

Are you eligible for any bursaries or scholarships at the school?

Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 16:40:15

I don't know, they say on their website they will expect you to sell other properties etc before they consider this (we own our home outright and have a small buy to let mortgage property which is our retirement nest egg property) although our actual income in our pockets is not high. I also am a bit confused about asking this before we join, I was thinking more if a change of circumstance happens I would discuss it with them then.

Howstricks Mon 05-Aug-13 16:57:47

Regarding the designer clothes, huge parties etc. We have a modest house, lifestyle etc and neither child has any designer clothes.Neither have ever had any problems related to this apart from an unrequited desire to go to Disneyland!! There are some schools where this is a stigma but not the ones mine went too and i'm sure you'd have got wind of any snobbery when you looked round. Of course there are some lucky rich so and so's smile but there are a lot like us, working hard to get our children a good education. (Now i sound like a soapbox!) Like you our local state was dire which was a shame..we did try it wasn't a hard decision! The eldest dd now goes to grammar which is free..who knows about the youngest..I may yet be selling body parts on ebay!!

newpup Mon 05-Aug-13 16:58:00

Hello. We send our Dds to a private school and it s worth every penny. I just wanted to point out that in this area fees rise about 5-6% every year and this is fairly usual in the private sector. Good luck.

Somethingyesterday Mon 05-Aug-13 17:03:21

Reastie - don't wait until your daughter is in the school to enquire about bursaries. Nowadays schools want to choose their bursary recipients for what they can bring to the school - rather than being "bounced" into offering them to unexpectedly needy parents. The bursary is for a child who simply could not get there without it. Sorry if that sounds harsh.

If you have a second property there is no chance of a bursary unless you sell it. They would expect you to have worked out your priorities.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 05-Aug-13 17:06:46

Something is right. I'm a single mother, I don't own a house or a car but pay full fees (and he's a straight A student). They will want you on the breadline to qualify for help.

Zigster Mon 05-Aug-13 17:10:35

I think private education is great (smaller class sizes, emphasis on confidence and sports, etc) so worth making some sacrifiices.

But, for me, your suggested sacrifices are too much. £300 pm left over for non-essentials such as clothes (!) is not a lot.

If sacrifices involved driving an older, cheaper car then fair enough. If the car is on its last legs and there is no spare cash for repairs or replacement, that's a problem.

My kids' prep has just changed the uniform slightly - now includes a yellow stripe - so second-hand is non-existent at the moment. If even a small change like that would scupper your budget, then I think it is a stretch too far.

If there is no margin for the unexpected in your budget, it sounds like a recipe for stressed, unhappy parents.

A relative said at the weekend when we discussed it (having a wobble about the cost stretching ahead of us for umpteen years) with them that if you thought about the finances, you wouldn't do it. I'd agree with that but it's not in my nature not to think carefully about the finances. And then you realise just what a huge sum of money it is for something just a little better than the State provides for "free".

Somethingyesterday Mon 05-Aug-13 17:14:22

Sorry, my previous post sounds much less sympathetic than I meant it to. If you haven't yet seen any bursary application forms you may not be aware that you are obliged to list all your assets as well as income. (And they visit your house to check.) People have been told to re-mortgage their homes as well as selling second homes etc.

I can't comment on whether you are likely to be able to manage on your current income - but perhaps you could rethink your assets?

TravelinColour Mon 05-Aug-13 17:16:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TravelinColour Mon 05-Aug-13 17:18:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OhTinky Mon 05-Aug-13 17:20:01

Would it put a lot of pressure on your parents too - what I'd they stopped being able to afford their half?

Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 18:33:46

They could afford it (my parents) throughout DDs primary education as they have inherited a fair bit and want to help out. They also have good financial circumstances in general.

It's interesting peoples perceptions of £300 a month cushioning vary so greatly! I know we could afford it, it's just are the sacrifices worth it, will it put financial pressure on us, can we justify the cost when we can get her educated for 'free', how will we cope struggling to make major purchases (eg car)....

Re: bursaries. I think we wouldn't be suitable as our position is too good for a bursary. My only experience of bursaries is at my sisters school her best friends mum went to the HT and told them they had a change of financial circumstances meaning they couldn't afford the full fees and unless the school could help them out they would have to move her. She was a bright student and they wanted to keep her. they helped them out towards paying fees. I'm not sure how (un)usual this is. I can't see us mortgaging our house or selling the other property (we have discussed this) as the other properties rental income would be used to pay for her secondary school fees once the mortgage is paid off when she gets towards the end of primary school, and we want the property as a retirement investment. DH could look to extend the morgage a little perhaps to reduce monthly payments though, that might give us a little more a month.

Fluffy1234 Mon 05-Aug-13 18:38:19

Try living on that amount for six months and see how it feels, it's the only way of knowing if it's doable. Are you planning any more children?

keepsmiling12345 Mon 05-Aug-13 18:39:07

I don't want to sound harsh but I can't see why the school would ever be happy for you to have a second property (as well as owning your house outright) and still give you a bursary, either at the start or if your income changed. And yes, if you have a second property as a retirement pot or ready to sell for secondary fees then of course £300 is a comfortable cushion each month...because you've always got that asset to fall back on.

Coconutty Mon 05-Aug-13 18:44:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

JohnnyUtah Mon 05-Aug-13 18:48:53


I wouldn't do it if things were that tight. I definitely don't think you could do it for 14 years. What if she doesn't pass the eleven plus? We felt that private secondary was more important than private primary.

Reastie Mon 05-Aug-13 18:52:22

No more children planned

Sorry, you understood me wrong, I wasn't expecting to have or looking to seek, a bursary.

messalina Mon 05-Aug-13 18:58:59

i personally think it is not worth it and i do have insider knowledge. you are going to need the school and your DD to work extra hard for the money as you are going to have to make considerable sacrifices. Will you think it is worth it if DD doesn't especially take to it and doesnt seem to be doing particularly well? Am sure she could well love it and do brilliantly but if she doesnt are the sacrifices worthwhile?

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