Friday, June 11, 2010

To pay or not to pay?

That is the question.

That little spoof on Shakespeare concludes the extent of my knowledge on the man and his works. A fine student of the classics I am not.

But anyways.

When I posted a couple nights ago about the ideal number of kids {and thanks for all the comments, they were all so different and all soooo interesting! I love hear what you guys are thinking or doing.} I touched briefly on the fact that money was a contributing factor to coming up with our ideal number. And again let me just reiterate, its only a contributing factor, honestly one of the biggest factors for me would probably have to be our lifestyle.

Not living near family and single parenting WAYYY more then I'd like, is tough. Very tough.

And really, until one has walked a mile as the role of mom, dad, plumber, nurse, maid, cook, electrician, bug catcher, and everything else under the sun for any longer then 2 weeks {without the help of family nearby} while your spouse is off somewhere doing God knows what, don't judge.

It's hard. There are days that I'm amazed military family's procreate at all. And then there are days when I think I can take it on and keep on taking it on. Its a fickle thing. But its tough for us.

But before I went on that tangent the question was to pay for college or not.

I am very lucky. My parents foot the bill for my college education.

{which has proved to be very useful, today I used my BA to change a couple diapers, make some cookies, do laundry, color, and read some Bernstein Books. Looks like you got your moneys worth mom and dad}.

Just to clarify, my parents wrote a check, they didn't take out a loan, had they not been in the position to pay outright we were going to be on our own.

There were some stipulations, you had to help some, my sister got a ton of little scholarships {those little ones add up!} and work.

I decided that for the first two years I would stay at home and go to community college. I saved a ton of money going that route and with the combination of that and AP credits I was able to graduate from a semester early when I did transfer to the university I went to.

The other part of the deal was no credit cards. At. All. You had to live on the money that you had and since we had low paying campus jobs that would be not a lot.

{Although my brother had a great scam, my mom would give him gift certificate for the local grocery store and he would buy one or two little things and keep the change. And he now that I think about it, he went to school in Myrtle Beach where they might have sold beer at the grocery store. And he convinced them to send him to school, paid for, to MYRTLE BEACH! Damn he had a racket going on.}

And we had to have jobs and have decent grades. College wasn't so much a big party time for me, I was there to get in and get out. I knew that I was lucky, my parents were paying but I owed them and myself.

I didn't really understand all that they were doing for me at the time, they were allowing me to get out of college without the burden of debt. What an amazing gift that was. I didn't have to worry about making X amount to pay off X amount of loans on top of living expenses. Which turned out to be a good thing because, well, my first job paid crap.

Come to think of it all my jobs have paid crap.....hmmm....

I'm not even sure I'd be a stay at home mom now if I had college loans to pay for. I know a couple of people for whom that's a factor in the whole baby/stay home discussion. Living on one income is tough, if we had a chunk of loans to send money too it'd be even tougher, maybe even not possible.

So my parents really set me up. I want to be able to help my kids out like that as well. I want to help set them up to start life with all doors open and without feeling a weight and burden of debt on their backs.

Does this mean that they need to go to wicked expensive Ivy league schools? Nope.

Well, actually that's a bit of a debate with flyboy and I, he feels if they are really driven and get into some wicked awesome, wicked expensive school we should make it happen. But there is time to work thru that one, not to mention see where the kiddos end up. Someone got a cookie piece shoved up their nose the other day. I think we can put MIT on the back burner for now.

Alright I know I shouldn't brag but I have to share, I know I know its just a number but the mama pride in me is exploding right now.

The genius who stuck the cookie piece up his nose really is almost a genius.

Wouldn't you know he got an comprehensive IQ test as part of a speech eval for his articulation and holy shit the kids IQ is in the 95%percentile with superior intelligence. Who would have thought it?! So maybe if cookies aren't in the entrance exams and whatnot, MIT could be an option.

And you know what, we might not be able to help them pay for it all, we probably wont, after all we are doing this on one income for now, but we want to help as much as we can. If that means instate schools or sometime in a community college, not to mention AP classes and what not, then those are all options. Because that's really what its about. Having options.

I realize too that the military is there. You can't deny that with three boys, of whom would be fourth generation military, the military option will probably be on the table. Statistically it's a probability for one of them {ugh that pulls on my mama heart}. Either they enlist and use the GI Bill or go to an academy.

I want loans to be the last possible option. THE LAST. Right before just observing class outside from the window. Especially if the government is the last one in the game. Thanks but no thanks.

Or maybe they don't even go to college. I really hope they do. And that could be another whole post.

I've heard from a lot of people that if you don't pay for your own college you don't appreciate it. Far from it in my experience.

A lot of my roommates were going to school on subsided loans from the govt and used quite a bit of that money to "live on". We all know what constitutes living in college. Lots of drinking. they were "paying" for it and certainly took their sweet time getting thru. And hey, so long as they are paying for their loans now whats it to me?

My college was paid for but I was damn appreciative. My parents were quite serious, you got four years. That was it. F it up and you were screwed. And trust me those same conditions will be there.

Bottom line, it may not be possible, we may not be able to help out as much as we'd like but dammit if we aren't going to try.

And so that's where we stand. Where do you stand? To pay or not to pay?

And if you've made it to the end congrats. This gives new meaning to long winded.

*a ps sidenote. I hope I havent offended anyone, it's certainly not my intention. I'm not against those who don't go to college, its not for everyone, I'm not against those who take loans, and I certainly don't think those who take out loans don't appreciate or party too much. I was just countering the argument that I've heard about getting it paid for and not appreciating it.

Ohh and who thinks I should tackle whether or not your pay check should dictate the size of your family. I have a LOT to say on that one.


  1. I would love to help them as much as possible but we will see. I keep wondering though what college will look like in about 15 years because it just seems like everyone has to spend so much on it these days.

  2. Well, I have experienced a little bit of both worlds. My dad, had he not lost everything in the stock market around 1999/2000, would have willingly paid for my school. He knew I was dedicated and determined to succeed. I've never been a party girl/drinker. I have always had my mind on my goals and not much will deter me. He also knew that the schools that I was looking at were very good schools (though not Ivy League) and not exactly cheap. The two schools I ended up applying to were both private liberal arts schools that had great reputations.

    I ended up choosing the cheaper of the two (not much cheaper, granted) and managed to keep scholarships for half the tuition costs all 4 years. But the tuition rose every year. By the time I graduated it was astronomical (more than a really nice car... ugh it still makes me sick). Long story short, my dad took out loans to cover the rest of the tuition my first two years. I took them out my last two years. In total, I've got loans that total close the amount of tuition I paid my last year of college. My husband is incredible and took on that debt and hasn't complained once. And it takes a good chunk of our money every month. So, I know how hard it is to pay those debts right out of school and the stress it puts on us. I will do everything in my power to not put that stress on our kiddos. But there will be serious ground rules, like you said. I'm so thankful that despite my dad's financial problems, he never discouraged me from going to either school I looked into. In fact, he never wanted me going anywhere else.

  3. holy cow, that WAS long winded.
    i vote for helping pay. my hubs had to use college loans... still paying those witches off. *ugh*
    and totally blog about if your paycheck should dictatethe size of your family (personally, i'm int eh boat of "can't afford them, don't make them")

  4. Gosh dangit, I was going to blog about this next week. Now I will look like a big fat copy cat :)

    I paid my way through college with a giant athletic scholarship. That being said, my parents dropped several thousand $$ while I was a pre-teen and teen for swim team, traveling, bathing suits, plane tickets to the other side of the world for competitions, etc. so that I could get to the level where college was free. So, I acknolwedge that while my parents didn't cut check twice a year to the University of Florida, they certainly more than paid for my college education.

    But, they told my brother this: we will pay for every penny of your college education. Up to the amount that it would take to fund an in-state college. If you choose to go to MIT or whatever, you will be paying the difference. And you will not be taking out loans to do so. You will get a scholarship to work your hiney off to make the money. He chose to go instate. And the second that GPA fell below 3.0 he was at home, living with my parents (punishment, certainly not a privilege!) and going to community college for two years.

    College education is a gift in our family. One you have to work your butt off to get, whether you are flipping burgers, studying until the wee hours of the morning, or getting up before the birdies to go workout/practice. And the second you start taking it for granted, it is gone.

    That being said, I want to have the financial means to set my children up for success. But, like with my parents, it will still be earned. And because I want to have confidence in my future bambinos' abilities (athletic, academic or otherwise), I want to have the wherewithall to be able to fund it. Hard work should be rewarded, no? I mean, at least, that's how I was raised...perhaps it is different now...

    And yes, PLEASE do a post on paycheck size dictating family size. Please please please!

  5. I loved this post!! My husband went to West Point so he had no loans. I went to a state school and had almost all of it paid for by a scholarship, what little bit I didn't my parents paid for. However, I worked a full time job from freshman year on to pay for all of my other expenses.

    We already decided that we would pay full tuition for our children to go to a state school. If they choose to go somewhere else, we will pay what we would of for a state school and they have to pay the rest.

    We have already started saving for college, and hopefully we will have enough when the time comes to just write a check and pay for it all!

  6. Ooh.. ME ME ME!!! I was doing the "math" last night... you know, the kind that's SUPER depressing. It basically told me that there's no hope of ever being abel to stay home with our children. Or have children, for that matter. And that's if we had paid off our cars and other debt completely. Can you say Sadness?!

    Really, though - we both want me to stay home when we have kids (whenever we're lucky enough for that to happen), but the numbers don't add up. And that makes me sad!!

  7. We want to pay for college for our children. My parents paid for mine and my two sisters and it was the best gift ever. We started a 529 account for Little M when she was a month old and will do the same for our other child{ren}.

  8. This is a great post! My parents could not afford to pay for my school. So that was not an option. I am not looking forward to the student loans rolling in this time next year. But i went to a state school and it was cheaper than most. I would like to help our kids pay for school. WE will have to see when the time comes. IF I cannot pay for their school, I will try to help with other expenses.

    I missed the post on the number of children. Please blog about this. My husband had the surgery after child #2 b/c we knew there was no way we could afford 3 children. I always wanted 3, I came from a family of 3 children. But I do love me 2 kiddos like crazy! I do not know how you do it with 3 when your hubby is gone all the time. But at the same time, having the kids helps keep my mind of my husband being deployed. You are too busy to get sad!

  9. No offense intended about financial decisions and paying for college and the number of children you have. If you'd told me 10 years ago, that I would have 6, soon to be 7, children, I would have thought you were smokin' crack.

    Anywho.... College. Who pays for it? My brother and I are smart and did well in high school. I applied to and was accepted by a good private school in Oregon, but tuition was too steep and my parents said that they couldn't pay for it. My grandma said she'd pay my first year's tution, if I went to BYU. So that's what I did. Only problem was, I was a horrible student. I made rotten decisions and screwed my academic career six ways to Sunday. By the end, 9 years later (including several time off periods for academic suspension, getting married, and having a few kids), I was seriously in debt from loans.

    If I had it to do all over again, I would definitely make different academic decisions.

    My brother, on the other hand, is a friggin' genius. Valedictorian in a class size of over 700; perfect score on the math SAT; super high score on the ACT; and yes, he applied to and was accepted by MIT. But neither he nor my parents could afford to send him there. He ended up at BYU on a full tuition scholarship -- he worked every summer and put himself through school. (I don't know if MIT would have been the right fit for him anyways. He ended up with a degree in design and is working at an advertising firm now).

    To sum up, man, I don't know. It'd be great if I could help the kidlets attend college. I know AZ has a few programs for top high school students for their in-state schools. And the doom factor, I really don't know what our nation is going to look like in 10, 15, 20 years. At this point, I only hope there's still a few institutions of higher learning left. (Maybe I listen to Glenn Beck too much).

    My 2 cents.

  10. I'm all about being in a postion to pay for at least half of the college expenses of your kids education. That's been part of the debate here in the Change household on whether to have a second child or not.

    See, Paul's mom was able to pay for his college. He helped by getting a scholarship and a small loan and his mom paid for the rest of it. And paid off the loan, for that matter.

    I knew that I'd be paying for ALL of my college by myself if I went. After all, I was paying for my own school lunch (and everything else) starting in 8th grade.

    Sooo... yeah. I didn't want the burden of that kinda loan even though it would probably have meant better jobs for me and I punked out after getting a certification in small business management from community college. Oh, and I did AP tests and got good grades and stuff. But couldn't afford it.

    Very important to be able to help your kids in school. Very very important.

  11. I think its good to be able to help as much as you can. like i said in our email, there are so many options for paying for school (scholarships, AP classes, com. college first, instate, service academies, etc etc) not to mention the crazy cost of college going up and up that we have decided to not stress about money 18 years in the future. :)

    so it seems silly to me to let that dictate your family NOW when you don't know what will happen down the road.

    plus, what if they don't go to college? i'm also a big believer that you shouldn't "have" to go to college - its become like a 2nd high school, practically meaningless in terms of jobs, etc. Trades are a very valuable and fulfilling work that often gets looked down on these days. sure, if they want college, awesome, 100% support. but i don't want to force my kid to go to university if he (or she? one day? :-p) isn't suited for it.

    also, i paid for most of my school with scholarships and stafford loans and DID NOT use it to party. i didn't party, period, but i can't imagine using money given to me for living/school being used to screw around - not how i was raised! i also worked while in school - pt time during semesters and full time in summer.

    would love to hear about kid size vs. paycheck and how you define "affording" more children. :)

  12. This is a discussion we've had several times as we think about having kids. My first year of college was covered by scholarships, however, I am still paying for the last 3 years and will be forever. My husband, on the other hand, had to pay for his own and didn't take out loans and I'm sad to say, he never made it through. I hope to be able to pay for our children's college, but who knows how much that will be in 20 years.

  13. My parents couldn't help with college at all, they couldn't afford school trips in school for that matter, so if I wanted to go on the trips, I had to have a job to pay for it. I worked my tail off, joined the ARNG and saved my money during basic, came back for senior year of high school with a couple grand and unlocked my GI bill the next year only to get married and have kiddos, got a pregnancy discharge a few years later without touching my GI bill yet, and don't know if its still there for me to use.

    If I have the money to help, I will help my kids, but I still have to put myself through college first.

  14. We were told we HAD to go to college...and HAD to pay for it ourselves WITHOUT do good in high school and get a lot of scholarships!! Which I was able to do. My sister on the other hand...she's still working on that...sort of. But yeah, I appreciate that my parents did that for me (because, in reality, they had to) but I would like to be able to help my kids avoid any loans...if it wasn't for the army, we'd still be paying for SoldierMan's. I don't want my kids to do that to themselves.

  15. Man, I have so much to say on the subject of your paycheck and family size. Or when it's the best time financially to start a family . Or whether or not a woman can "afford" to be a stay at home mom...Don't get me started. lol

    About college: I think this is so individual. I'm glad you appreciated that your parents helped you. I hope that my kids appreciate it if we help them. I know my husband sure as heck didn't appreciate it when he was 18. I know many of my girlfriends my Freshman year didn't appreciate it either, drank all their parents money away and (some of them) flunked out. Then there were those that did fairly well grades wise, but went for liberal arts and have never been able to find a worthwhile job (as far as salary) to this day. Kind of a waste...I think it all really depends on the maturity of the kid and whether or not they even really know what they want to be when they grow up :)

    I went to college (the first time, ha!) on savings bonds my grandmother took out for me when I was born. Community college all the way. It was always made clear to me it wouldn't ever be a possibility for me to start at a private school, even though my grades were good and my parents were loaded. Looking back, they were right though- I did a year in the nursing program, hated it and quit. It's so hard to pin down a career choice when you're barely legal to vote.

    When I went back a few years later (for Pharmacy) it was on my own. Loans and working my butt off. Again my parents could have easily paid for every last bit of it. They did help with groceries and things from time to time seeing as I was living on my own and not making much more than minimum wage, but that was it. In hindsight I'm glad they didn't foot the bill. I learned SO MUCH about responsibility and hard work and organization through that. Lessons I personally probably wouldn't have been able to learn any other way. Eating Ramen Noodles for every meal tends to motivate a person to do well ;) You dont want to have to live like that for the rest of your life.

    So it will be a fine balance with our kids. I can see both sides of it. We've been saving for each one of their educations since they were born, but we're not fooling ourselves either- there's no friggin' way we'll be able to pay for 100% of everything for them without going bankrupt. All we can do is take things one step at a time and see where we're at when we cross the proverbial bridge. We might even find we have a slightly different game plan for each one of them considering their personalities too, who knows.

    Honestly, right or wrong, I'm willing to bet the government will step in in some way before they're college age anyway when it comes to higher education. If things continue to snowball the way they have been over the next 15 or 20 years college is going to become a luxury only the very elite can afford. Something's gotta give.

  16. >>Or when it's the best time financially to start a family .>>

    lol, this literally made me laugh out loud. the best time financially? how 'bout never? :-p

    something else i didn't talk about or mention is that my parents paid for 12 years of private school for me and my sister before college ever rolled around. i think that IS something very important.

    we are interested in homeschooling, at least initially, so thats not really an immediate concern, but i can see it becoming one, especially for high school. so, if that is in the picture, i think paying for college becomes even less likely, because we'd be paying for others schooling already.

    anyways, thats another factor :)

  17. I paid my own way through college and I paid out of state tuition ($600 per credit hour), and I graduated in 4years! I had ny fair share of troubles, but it made me know what i want. It made me choose a major that was tough, but that in the end, I will make a huge chunk of money. I am grateful to my parent for pushing me to go to college. But they only helped out with petty things, because, guess what, they were all the way in Nigeria.

    I was opportuned to get some scholoarships here and there that paid some bills, but it was hardwork and determination.

    And now, I have a job that currently pays twice what my husband is making in the military as an army officer. And I appreciate my parents for it, for making me independent and strong willed.

    I am so proud of your son, he seems intelligent. And please continue to encourage him. He could get a scholarship to a good ivy league school that would pay for everything.

    Lastly, you are an amazing mother, and yes, you do use your degree. Your children see through you everyday, and all the educated choices you make for them is what is shining through in your son with that amazing IQ, I so pray my daughter ranks that high too.

    Have a terrific evening!

  18. Also, my husband got the army to pay for his loans now that he is graduated from college. So, that is also an option. I believe the maximum the reimburse is $65,000. He only owes $35,000 and they just paid it 1/3 of it, they'll pay the rest in the next two years. Thats something to think about as well!

  19. Very interesting post!! I was blessed that my parents paid for the first 3 years of my college. They would have paid for my fourth but I got married to my husband and they refused to pay for it. :) I've had a job since I was 15 and have always paid for my own gas, eating out, entertainment, etc, but they paid for my college tuition, car insurance, etc. I don't feel like I took it for granted at all, I am definitely appreciative! My husband's parents, on the other hand, weren't in the position to pay his college, so he joined the Marine Corps and thus earned the GI bill. :) We feel the same way as you--we want to be in the position to support our (future) kids through college. My husband is adamant that he doesn't EVER want his kids to feel like they HAVE to join the military to go to school, but he would be proud if they wanted to own their own.

    Just being nosy, what did you study in school? And stay @ home moms have the hardest yet most rewarding jobs ever, you seem to be doing a fabulous job!!

  20. We have a college savings plan (529) for my 3rd child - my first is already working her way through community college, and my 2nd is hoping to enlist when he graduates from high school. Baby #4 (due in Sept) will probably have a 529 as well, but there is one rule we look at before we contribute to the college savings plans - we still pay OURSELVES first...meaning we put money into retirement savings.

    Student loans or even working through college are both possibilities for our kids if we CAN'T save enough money for them. But what are our options if we can't save enough for retirement???
    We certainly can't take out RETIREMENT loans, and even if we want to have a 'working' retirement for kicks, well what if we CAN'T work when we're old?

    I think its great to pay for your kids college if you are able....but look at the long term of "able" and don't sacrifice your own old-age for it. Otherwise, you will pay your kids' way through college, only for them to have to SUPPORT you in your old age.

    Sorry if that sounds selfish, but practicality rules over emotions. (wait, did *I* just say that???? LOL)

  21. I will second what Gaile said - retirement has to come first. That isn't something you can make later. If you give all the money to your kids now, you are screwed later and will only be a burden on them. How does that help them?

    As for me, I paid my own way through college, and my dh joined the military to cover his (although, he still has yet to settle on a program, so we have tough times ahead over that one). My parents said it was all on me, and I figured it out. I did have loans, but also picked up some grants and scholarships along the way that make it bearable when I graduated. My dh's first reenlistment bonus installment actually paid it all off, so we are in the clear (whew!).

    For our kids, we plan on helping them out with housing and other expenses, but they need to figure out their own tuition. What we can spare will be largely determined by what we can save in the coming years, however. I am not going to leave them high and dry, though, like my parents did. Things would have gone so much easier if they had just bought be groceries every so often.


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