OT: A quiet celebration last week...

When Ben was young he thought I spent too much time in my office and 
not enough time hanging out with him so I set up a second desk in the office, complete with 
a "blueberry" laptop so he could work on his projects in the same space.
He was a good office mate; his computer rarely crashed and he didn't
drink all the coffee without having the courtesy to brew fresh.

Saving up for college was a long process. We started it shortly after Ben was born. We were pretty optimistic about our ability to save until it became apparent, far into the process, that he had his mind set on going to school out of state. The next escalation was his discovery of a private college that felt just right to him. 

With the help of our 529 account, my ongoing (and variable) cash flow and my partner's great management skills we were able to underwrite all four years. We celebrated last week as we wrote the very last check to his school. 

When we were childless, oh so many years ago, a celebration would have included a pricey bottle of Champagne and an evening at one of our favorite (and extravagant) restaurants. After shipping off so much money over the last four years our actual celebration consisted of sharing a $10 bottle of Prosecco and two chocolate lava cakes from the freezer at the local Trader Joe's. It seems that paying for a good education is, by extension, a good education for at least one former spendthrift parent. 

It's probably the same continuing education that led me home for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch today. As a bonus I had the opportunity to play with Studio Dog for a while before heading back to work.

We held back just enough cash to head up to New York for the commencement ceremony in May. It should be delightful.

My biggest current fear? The lure of graduate school.... 

My spouse still counsels me that the investment in Ben's education was money better spent than me investing in fast cars or medium format digital cameras. Who am I to argue?


Unknown said...

Congratulations. Now go and treat yourself to another old camera or another classic lens. That way we get to read about it!

Eric Rose said...

Graduate school is a great idea, once Ben works for at least five years and gets some real world experience behind him. During that valuable real world education Ben could save enough money to get himself started in grad school. Part of being an accomplished grad student is finding ways to work the system so his tuition is covered. Now that's something an employer is really impressed with.

Just my two cents.


ps: Congrats to all of you. Especially Studio Dog who must have missed Ben as only a faithful companion can.

atmtx said...

I can't believe he's graduating already.

MikeR said...

Hey, good job! You and Belinda deserve a heartfelt congratulations. Ben also.

From this point onward, since your offspring has launched, most financial advisors want you to make your retirement funds your top priority.

Michael Kohnhorst said...

Heartiest congratulations to parents and son.

David said...

Congrats to Ben. I don't know his major, but many grad schools either pay a stipend to cover costs or offer teaching positions of undergraduate students to also pay the costs. Otherwise there are always grants and awards you can apply for to cover your costs.
However, make sure its worth it. Get him to plan out what he actually wants to do and then see if grad school offers an advantage or will make him over qualified and thus unhirable.
If he wants to follow your steps, be a self employed, living out of his car, videographer. Then it may help. Once he figures it all out, he can retire to being a University professor. The degree is what held Mike Johnson away from a position once. And he may have been overqualified even without the degree.

scott kirkpatrick said...

Congratulations, bringing Ben to this point with no student debt. From personal experience, I would say grad school can be a big part of growing up as a professional, but when it happens depends on what Ben wants to do (if he knows that) and how much of the rest of the world he wants to absorb and bring to it. Plus financial support for grad students (they can be very useful) is easier to get than for undergrads.

ODL Designs said...

Congratulations to the both of you, and to Ben! A gift of being debt free as we enter our working lives is one that will ripple through Ben's entire life.

Jey and I did the same thing, from day one we began investing in tax free educational investment accounts for both our boys futures. Money well saved for sure.

Phil Stiles said...

They used to say, "Life begins when the kids leave home and the dog dies." My modern version is "When you're no longer paying tuition bills, and the mortgage is paid off." For what it's worth, most of my friends feel duty bound to help their kids through undergraduate school. After that, different story. For grad school, loans, stipends, and grants will be easy to obtain for the truly qualified, and the resultant higher income from employment as a credentialed professional should ease the repayment stress. As my accountant once told me,
"No one will lend you money for your retirement, but they will lend your kids money for education." Of course a degree in one of the STEM areas will probably lead to a better career than, say, Medieval cultural history.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Let's not knock Medieval Cultural History!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to all of you! Great moments will arrive!

Peter said...

Congratulations from someone who has lived for some time in the US and appreciates the sacifices, parents have to bring to provide a good education for their kids!

As parents of three children who all eventually graduated, we were much relieved that tuition cost here in Switzerland are considerably smaller.