Archive for April, 2013

My oldest child will begin high school in the fall.   He applied to various schools and was accepted to a few and rejected from a few.  These were all private schools obviously and the one he has selected has a tuition of about $22,000.  The other $3,000 are for extracurricular activities (i.e. sports) and field trips which aren’t included as part of the tuition.

Given that he’ll be in high school for four years, we’re looking at a total tab of about $100,000 for high school.  It could of been worse, he applied to a prep school in the northeast that would have cost twice that!   I’m sure we’ll face maybe another $200,000 for college depending on which school he’s admitted to but perhaps we’ll get lucky and he’ll  get a scholarship.

So why pay the high cost?  We live in the city and wouldn’t even consider sending him to one of the public schools around here and you’d be surprised to see how many parents are scrambling to put their kids into these private schools – it’s highly competitive!

As an alternative, we’ve contemplated moving out to the x-burbs and find a school there however when factoring in the lost time to traffic to get into the city, higher property taxes, and other expenses such as fuel, it ends up being a wash financially but worse off when it comes to free time so we stay put.    My mortgage is now down to $9,000 (yes nine thousand not a typo) so I’m living on 85% disposable income now and the 25k isn’t too big a deal but still I cringe at the thought of having to write a check for $22,000 in a few weeks.

My son, someday when you read this blog, I hope you will appreciate the amount of money we’ve spent on you to get you where you are today.

When generation iPhone 1 and 2 were out, I thought they were a waste of money.   The device just wasn’t powerful enough for what it wanted to be and I figured I’d wait until they got a little more powerful before I bought one.    iPhone 3 was a great improvement and when iPhone 4 rolled out, I knew it was time to buy but AT&T still had a lock on it so I waited until an “unlimited” plan was available (via Sprint) before I bought one and that was the 4S model.

I am still amazed however at some people’s attitudes toward smart phones.  Seriously, a smart phone is a portable computer, it is a video camera, it is a camera, it is a music player, it is a flashlight, a navigation aid, and so many other things that adding the value of one smart phone against a stack of peripherals isn’t even close!

I honestly can’t live without my iPad and iPhone, they are my first go-to devices when I want to do something on the internet.   My laptops and even large iMac are there when I need to do some multi-threaded work like opening multiple documents and spreadsheets at the same time to do some work but that’s only about 20% of the time now.

So no, SmartPhones aren’t a waste of money if you want to live in the modern era and have a lifestyle that warrants the use of such a device.  I gave my kids iPhone to give them a leg up on using the new mobility computing platform so yeah, they’ll be way ahead of your kids.   The only caveat is to make sure you have an unlimited data plan to really maximize the value of your device.   Don’t have the money for one?  Cut the cable TV cord and you’ll be way happier!

In just 6 months, we’ll be celebrating two years of Cable TV Free life.   We cut the cord when I gave my kids an ultimatum:  choose between your iPhone or Cable TV.  The kids choose their iPhone and we cut the cable TV cord.

To compensate for the elimination of Cable TV, I subscribed to NetFlix $8/mth, HuluPlus $8/mth, and had Amazon Prime $3/mth  at a student discount rate (still doing my MBA until December).   I purchased a couple of Roku boxes and off we were on the path to true IP TV.   For $20 per month, I get more content than I can ever watch and more is added daily!  In contrast, I was paying about $180 for 400 channels of which I only watched 3 to 4!

The family watches nearly all the TV shows off of our Roku now using HuluPlus or Netflix or Amazon and it’s a good thing because none of us could tell you which day of the night any particular show comes on anymore.    This was my largest pet peeve of broadcast TV, you watch a show on Friday nights and the broadcasters suddenly move it to Tuesday or Wednesday or some other date/time and it’s impossible to ever watch it again.

Now, I can miss three or four shows and simply get on my Roku and catch up on the shows I missed when I want, not when the broadcasters want.    Of course, this has now become a way of life for my kids.   They don’t watch TV with an antennae, they hook up their iPhone to the Apple TV wireless and stream shows to it or they watch TV right off their iphones or iPads.

Oddly enough, the kids have even stopped asking for TV’s in their room (something we’ve always denied) because their devices are now portable televisions.

I read today that Dish is trying to buy Sprint and that makes some sense since kids these days will more likely watch TV over cellular data network than satellite but I’m not sure it will make much difference.    I get weekly mailers now from Comcast, Dish, Direct TV, and AT&T to get service but why bother?

Just like VHS tapes and compact disc went the way of the dinosaur, I think Cable TV will be obsolete in about 10 years unless something changes such as a-la-carte programming that can compete for $20/month but I doubt the cable providers will come up with anything that compelling.    Of course, the final nail in the coffin of cable TV will be when google deploys their fast fiber everywhere.