Finding Room in the Budget for Priorities

by Kelly · 9 comments

in Thoughts On Frugality

A recent post at This Is How I Do It… started me thinking. The question raised was about spending $1500 a month on private school when the parents are in debt.

For me personally, this is a no go; we just don’t have that money in our budget. I can see, however, how people might be willing to sacrifice in order to provide a private school education to their children, if they felt strongly that it was that important. The twist in this particular story is that the family is in debt. Not only would not paying the tuition help them get out of debt sooner, paying the tuition has contributed to it.

While I wouldn’t spend $1500 a month on anything that didn’t come with a front door key, we spend money on lots of things that aren’t essential but that do fit in with our fundamental values. The most relevant example that I can think of is reading readiness classes in English for our two older children. The classes are taught by an American Montessori teacher and are held every Saturday morning during the school year. At €10 a class, for each child, with the potential for 5 classes a month, we spend up to €100 a month on a children’s activity.

I choose to spend this money, even though things are tight and likely to get even tighter. First because it’s very important to me that my kids are exposed to as much English language activity as possible. Secondly because I value reading, literacy and loving books very highly. Finally, the classes are fun, and my kids love going. This class hits all the high points for me and so I’m willing to scrimp a little bit elsewhere in order to make it happen.

Each family has to make the decision for itself as to what the priorities are, both financial and familial. No one else can do it for them. I know what mine are- do you?

What are your familial financial priorities? Have they ever conflicted? What do you scrimp on in order to make them happen?

An online bank is often a good bet to find the best savings account rates because online banks don’t have the same overhead that other banks do. They don’t have branches or much in the way in customer service so they can pass on these savings to their customers. The same usually applies for finding the best CD rates and money market accounts as well.


1 Michelle July 10, 2008

I really don’t splurge on much these days (I’d love cable but can’t justify the monthly fee of $60), but I think your English classes is money well spent!

Michelle’s last blog post..A Stash to Drool Over

2 Ann at One Bag Nation July 10, 2008

A couple of things come to mind. I’ve started buying much more organic food, especially the stuff my daughter eats a lot of. We also take an annual vacation across the country to visit family; very expensive, but we have no family nearby and this feels important, especially as my mom gets older.

Ann at One Bag Nation’s last blog post..Is Decluttering the Same as Simplifying?

3 Denise July 11, 2008

I still don’t know whether to thank you for mentioning me or not like you for mentioning me : )

you have no idea of how hard of a decision this is. My daughter just broke down crying in the middle of the grocery store over it.

we have time to decide. school does not start for another month and a half. Time right now, is on my side.

4 Kelly July 11, 2008

Kelly says:
Denise, this is such a hard decision! It’s obviously something that is very important to you and your family. I understand that it’s not something that can be taken lightly.
If I go back to school next year, my salary is going to take a serious cut. I’ve been wondering how to continue paying for these classes for my children, when we’re going to have to scrimp on everything else, but it’s important.
I think any decision affecting our children is much more difficult, because we want the best for them!
Keep us updated on your decision.

5 Kelly July 11, 2008

Kelly says:
Ann, I understand about prioritizing money to go see family. The thousands of euros that we have paid for our trips have been worth it, but still, that’s a lot of money over the years!

6 Meegan July 11, 2008

What a hard decision to make. Luckily, the public/private school decision is one we haven’t had to think about as yet. Although in saying that, the decision may have already been made for us, as most of our friends who are planning on sending their kids to private school have had them booked in from as young as 2 months old!
We just aren’t that organised!

7 Budget Mama July 12, 2008

Hi there. We had to budget in therapy for our son since he has Autism. We have had medical issues with him since birth, so we racked up on medical expenses throughout the past few years. Even still, we needed to add the therapy line items into our budget to get him the services he needed. It paid off, he is doing so much better, I can’t even begin to explain the difference since Oct. last year. We also have to priortize his medicine and supplements as well, so that makes things very tight. I started PF blogging so that I can track our expenses and make the most of our money. I found out we waste a ton of money in some areas.

Budget Mama’s last blog post..Got change?

8 Jerry March 27, 2009

Yes, my wife and are extremely frugal but we do spend money on things that cost more than others. We buy as much organic as we can. We feel that it’s insurance for our health. And, we will budget in clothes because we like to buy them. We buy used but we have more than we “need”. It is fun for us and makes us happy. Things may change that may lead us to adjust our priorities but for now things are good.

9 MB April 16, 2009

We budget for travel, since we fly to Australia from the US every year and we also buy lots of organics. It’s important to us so we make it work. It’s a big focus of my blog. We forgo a lot of other things to make our priorities happen.

MB´s last blog post..10 Must Haves On A Flight With Kids

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