Tuesday, May 05, 2009

JES: Ready

:::Whew!::: (If you haven't taken the survey yet, please do so here.)

Bas~Melech put it well when she asked me a couple of hours ago:
"You're ready with more than a day left? What's that like?!
Honestly, it's odd. While it's nice that that pressure of preparing is off, and I don't have to worry about that, I'm the type that actually thrives off the pressure. I enjoy being given more difficult or time-impossible tasks, then coming up with ways to pull them off anyway. That said, I now have over a day to drive myself crazy about it. Ah well.

The responses have been flying in the last couple of days. Rather than analyze more numbers (I think my head is about ready to explode, and I like this stuff), I'll just note a few interesting comments left on some of the questions near the end:
  • Great idea. The current system is broken. There are years when my wife and my take-home pay is less than our combined tuitions for just 4 children. Yeshivas and girls schools are teaching the children that it is wrong for a young married man to earn any money at all until several years into the marriage, yet yeshiva and girls' school tuitions are astronomical. This paradigm cannot survive for another generation given the recent economic meltdown.
  • Go to public college, not private!!
  • Move to Eretz Yisroel before having children or when they are very young, where all types of Jewish education is MUCH more affordable than in the U.S.A. (I would not recommend moving with adolescent children.)
  • do not buy what you can't pay for right now. practice delayed gratification
  • save, save, save. forget what everyone else is doing or what you did when you were single. stop spending money.
I thought these were especially interesting. The first one is one heard many times, but the number is scary: Take-home pay less than tuition alone? But it's pretty understandable: Even a couple earning $100,000 is only taking home about half that if they work in Manhattan. Sadly, $50,000 might not cover tuition for more than 3 kids.

Public college vs. private: While people take for granted that private college is somehow better, I've yet to find a frum person I know who chose public over private who later suffered for it. Or for that matter, someone who chose a "name" school over a non-name school. Interestingly, there was a study (either UCLA or Harvard) years ago that tracked similar students - one who would pick an Ivy school and the other who would pick a decent state school. The students years down the road were doing equally well. It's definitely something worth at least thinking about.

I thought the Israel approach (while mentioned by nearly anyone who moved to Israel) was interesting, and I thought it nice that the person balanced a non-economic consideration. Whenever people discuss finances there's typically a weight of economics over everything else, and not without reason; but it's important to find a good balance there. That exists on the other side, too, as noted well by the next comment: An overwhelming number of comments feel that delayed gratification is something that simply does not exist among their peers, whether due to pressure to "keep up" or something else.

Finally, I especially enjoyed the last comment. While many people are able to ignore what everyone else is doing in terms of their expenses, they aren't necessarily able to do the same when it comes to their own self from before. People get married and can't seem to let go of some of the things they "always" spent money on, whether entertainment (baseball games), clothing (shoes), food (eating out), or the like. Marriage is a whole new financial ballgame compared to being single.