We're down to just two semesters left of college tuition. Paid on Friday, direct from our checking, spring 2022 is in the financial books. Of course I had to move money from a different account. I noticed again the credit card and payments option. Both have a 3% surcharge. Woah. Our portion after her scholarship is enough. While paying such a large chunk at a time is a hard swallow, but over the course of 4 years, that 3% charge would be enough lost cash to equal an entire year of her current meal plan. Alternative thinking it covers her added study abroad costs.
We've made dumb financing mistakes over our years as a family. Who hasn't, but we learn. Whenever possible, we try and plan ahead by paying ourselves in monthly increments and sticking aside for when due. It helps me delay purchases when I think about the cash needs and what we'd sacrifice in interest payments by not paying in full. As we get closer to retirement and a fixed income, it'll be critical not to add costs through fees for convenience or because we don't have the funds yet.
We've always been a use the credit card but pay it off before interest accrues family. I still think we need to tighten the use of the card in general. I don't want to lose the convenience or the cash back points, but use it more like a debit card where we track. I'm guilty of scratching my head when we pay the bill, not even remembering some of the items purchased. It's become too easy to pull out the card for minor purchases- fine if needed, but did I?
I remember shopping with one of my sister's who went crazy buying at a sale. This was ages ago when my older kids were still young and she had teenage kids at home still. I made a joke about my check book would be crying when I pay the bill. She dead face looked at me and said, well that's why I spread it out over several months. I still remember thinking that the interest had to just about wipe out her savings. She's my sister who's never denied herself and seems to be able to afford her lifestyle, but that did stick with me.
Now I'm trying to retrain myself to avoid a different dumb fee- the lack of cash savings fee. I know the more we can save in cash, the longer we can go before withdrawing from DH's retirement or the Roth. If we avoid losing interest until I retire, that's the same as avoiding lifestyle fees now. I'm not looking for austerity- just stopping stupid spending. It helps me decide, beyond our budget, if the price of something is the additional quality of life worth that much less in savings. Many times I suspect the answer will be no.
Right now I'm pricing out options for a reconisance trip to Washington DC and New York. As these are true fact finding, we'll try and avoid many restaurant meals, and give my daughter a taste of what living lean in a tiny apartment might be like. Relocation is expensive and so is accepting a position for less salary than she'll need to comfortably live on. This trip will be worth the money to give some direction to our daughter. I wish we had done more for the older two in the exploratory phase. Live and learn.