Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pre-school and College Financing

It's amazing how much effort and energy is put behind helping to ready parents to save for their children's college education well over 18 years away.

The good news is that Daniel and I are all signed up and contributing regularly and with additional support from Sarah's awesome grandparents too.

However, the thing that's frustrating is that there is little to no preparation from financial institutions, amongst others to mentally and physically prepare parents for the exorbitant costs for preschool care (e.g., nanny, daycare, preschool). Maybe there is and I just don't know about it. Maybe because we have been in a recession and my family has seen the impact of the economic downturn that I feel this way.

It's hard enough getting through the first few months after a first child is born but then to realize that you need to fork over easily as much as $10,000 - $18,000 if not more per year for their care (depending on where you live of course). And, if both parents need to work before a child is eligible for public school kindergarten, the process of saving while paying this extensive cost can be daunting.

I am starting to see that maybe I was just naive and didn't see this cost for what it was when I was pregnant and preparing for Sarah's arrival. I can't say we didn't save, because we did. And, fortunately, we make a good enough living to not have to worry about this. But still, I feel somewhat blindsided but this exponential expense. I definitely did not NOT think about. That's why Daniel and I decided that daycare versus a nanny was the best option for us and Sarah.

And, it's mind blowing that living near a major metropolis the cost to send a child to daycare or to pay for a nanny is close to if not more than the cost of a full college education. And, we don't have 18 years to save for this. We likely have paid for a state or city college education already and Sarah is not yet age 3.

How do parents do it? How do you do it?

It's certainly easy to say either move to a lesser expensive city with a lower cost of living or seek a higher paying job closer to home with similar rewards and benefits.

The good news for me, and my family, is that I have recently decided to do both. With a new job secured with a great company in a new city I have set a new path for my family one that we are excited, nervous, happy, scared, thrilled and overwhelmed by. I recently accepted a new position in another major city with a lower cost of living compared to what we are used to and with daycare fortunately a fair bit less than what we have been paying. Even better is that we will be closer to family.

Overall, I find it rather amusing and interesting that more emphasis is made on saving finances on children's college education versus preschool preparation, with the latter coming first. I recommend and plead that more preparation be offered to parents in the future.

If you are not able to make a major move to city with lower cost of living, get a new, higher paying job or have money fall out of the sky into your lap, look into programs (e.g., Abbott Districts), which provide the opportunity for children ages 3 - 5 to attend schools with quality programming for little to no fee.

So, with this new life change ahead of me including a new job secured, new location and new home to find I am stressed and excited all at the same time. Thrilled to create a new home and environment for Sarah and also to find affordable options to provide her a quality of life that won't feel like saving money is impossible.

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