Saving for Japanese School, Update #2

JapaneseSchool6074472865_8df966aeeb_mAt the end of 2012, I announced that our big, hairy, audacious goal is to save $10,300 for Japanese school–$3,300 for the summer, and $7,000 for the academic school year.

At the time, I mentioned that we were absolutely committed to summer school, but we didn’t know if our money would stretch far enough for the academic year.

Since then, things have changed.

How Much We Have Saved

We have worked–HARD–over the last few months.  My husband has been busy watching the kids, doing laundry, and doing dishes when he is home so I can hide away in our bedroom and do the many extra freelance jobs that have come my way.  By working together, we have saved more than we thought possible.

Here’s a breakdown by month:




Total:  $2031.97

As a bonus, we’ll be getting a $1,007 tax return, which we’ll put in this fund.  After the tax return, we’ll be only $261.03 short of our summer goal!  SWEET!

But Our Plans Have Changed

We remained on the fence about sending the girls to Japanese school in the fall.  We also considered sending them to the preschool where our son attends school, but the problem was that while our 4 year old could go 5 days a week for 2.5 hours a day, our 3 year old could only go 3 days a week, and that wouldn’t give me enough time to work.

We delayed making a decision, and the morning program filled up so that there wasn’t a spot for either girl.  The decision seemed to be made for us–Japanese school in the fall.

I had serious reservations about spending that much money during the academic year, though.

I’m working, HARD!  Sometimes I’m exhausted, and so is my husband.  We barely have time to talk to each other let alone have date night.  It seems like all we do is work.  I don’t know if this is sustainable over an academic year.

Still, what choice was there?

I received an unexpected call last week from my son’s school’s secretary who said that for the first time ever, they were opening up a 5 day a week preschool program for 3 year olds in the afternoon.  Also, the 4 year old 5 day a week afternoon program had openings still.

Suddenly, there was a choice again!

After much thought, I decided that sending the girls to preschool at my son’s school was probably the best decision.

My husband’s work has been a bit unstable lately as many of the scientific grants have not been renewed and people he knows are being laid off.  While he *thinks* his job is safe, he’s still worried and stressed by the situation.  He decided, too, that the preschool program at our son’s school is best.

What This Means for Us Now

We are still committed to all 3 kids attending Japanese summer school.  We almost have the money saved for that.

However, in the fall, they will go to preschool at my son’s school.  It will be a substantial savings over Japanese school.

We both hold out hope that the girls can go to Japanese school for the academic year a year from now, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Meanwhile, after we have saved all the money for summer school, we’ll switch gears.  All extra money I make will be split in half.  Half will go to our emergency fund until our emergency fund reaches $6,000.  The other half will go to debt repayment.  Our debt repayment has slowed considerably over the last 6 months, and I’m ready to hit it hard again.

What do you think?  Are we making the right decision?


  1. Absolutely! Im a major supporter of children learning a second language and have struggled to keep all of my boys in the local french immersion school program. Summer Japanese school sounds like it will be perfect for your family! Spending all of your time working and sacrificing time with your husband or children doesn’t seem like a worthwhile trade-off to an academic year of a preferred school.

    • Yes, at least they get 3 months in summer school immersion. I try to tell myself that it’s like the BMW of education. It’s fabulous, but a Toyota would also meet our needs with a lot less financial pressure. And who knows, if we get our finances squared away, maybe we can send them for the next academic year.

      Fabulous that you have a French immersion school program. Are your kids fluent now?

  2. I think you are making a great choice. Paying down your debt and building up your savings will give you a piece of minf.

  3. That’s a lot of money. I probably won’t do that, but it’s just me. Are there other alternatives like visiting Japan for 3 months instead? That’s a great way to learn and see different culture.

    • We definitely will visit Japan for a few weeks to a few months when the kids are older. (Right now we don’t want to take a 15 hour flight with an 8, 4, and 3 year old! :)) Still, I’d like them to have language exposure and know some of the language before we go to Japan.

  4. Abigail's Mommy says:

    I think it is the best decision for both your children and you and your husband. They are still getting the Japanese school for the summer and preschool for the school year. Plus you will be saving money the school year. Sounds like a win-win to me. 🙂

  5. I follow your blog and since you mention it a lot I just want to know, is Japanese school just a school where they learn Japanese? If so why Japanese specifically? Are there other ways they could learn the language? Do you and your husband speak it? And are there other options for them to learn a second language?

    • My husband is Japanese, and his entire family still lives in Japan. They don’t know any English, so it’s important the kids know the language to speak with their relatives. The Japanese school offers a Japanese immersion program. I don’t speak the language, unfortunately, but I’m hoping to learn more as the kids do.

      • I can see why their learning Japanese is very important. Can your husband teach them when they aren’t in Japanese school? Or what about a Rosetta Stone type program for kids?

        • Melissa says:

          They do have a Rosetta Stone program for teens, so that is something we’ll look into when they are older.

  6. It does sound like you are making the right decision. However, if your husband’s job isn’t 110% secure (I don’t think anyone’s is, lol), then you might want to put 100% into your emergency fund instead of 50/50. Once your emergency fund gets super high, you can always throw a big chunk toward debt, but you can’t get it back. Should a disaster strike, you might wish you had had more in you EF. Just an idea, though…

  7. I agree this sounds like life will be much more enjoyable!!

  8. I think you’re doing the right thing! Your mental and emotional health, as well as your marriage, are even more important to your kids than Japanese school — and they WILL be getting a great dose of immersion this summer. 🙂 Hopefully it will work out for them to attend Japanese school the following year without as much stress and strain. God bless you and your family!

    • Thank you. This is my hope, too. Being able to put money on our debt for another year should put us in a much better financial position.

  9. I think you’re making the better decision. I wasn’t a fan of spending that kind of money on private school when it’s not a necessity and you have things that should have a higher priority (your debt and emergency fund) but I’m sure people didn’t think it was right that we took vacations (paid for with cash) while in debt repayment so to each their own.

    • Melissa says:

      Yes, it’s really expensive, but since they are 1/2 Japanese, it’s what we wanted to do. However, we’ll still do summers, so there is something to be said for that.

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