Dear Dave: We have two girls in competitive gymnastics, and it’s costing $12,000 to $15,000 a year at a professional gym to do all this. My wife and I both work, and we make about $115,000 a year, but virtually all of her income goes toward paying the gymnastics bill. We’re also trying to get out of debt and get better control of our money at the same time. Should we focus more on our finances right now?
Dear Jim: If I were in your shoes, I’d be asking myself why the kids are in gymnastics. Unless you guys are trying to send them to the Olympics — and they’re actually good enough to reach that level — teaching them things like discipline and to master their bodies through physical training can be done at a local amateur level. And at a much lower cost.
My son played ice hockey in local leagues for years when he was growing up. We did it as a family thing, and he had lots of fun and we all made great new friends. He even played some in high school, too, but he wasn’t NHL material or anything like that. It didn’t change his life that he didn’t play on a traveling team or with professional trainers, so we had to ask ourselves, “What will it matter when he’s 30 years old?”
You make good money, so that’s not really the big issue. If you guys made $50,000 or less, I’d be yelling at you. But with your income, the gymnastics thing probably isn’t going to slow you down too much when it comes to getting your financial house in order. In other words, it’s a parental thing. Ask yourself why you’re investing so heavily in this, and what the goal is when they’re adults. I think that will help you make the smart decision.
Dear Dave: My husband and I have been living bicoastal since last October. He found a great job with great pay in Charlottesville, Va., after graduation, and we both agreed he couldn’t pass it up. I’m still in Portland with a good marketing job making $50,000 a year. We’re trying to get out of debt. If I join him now, I won’t have a job and we won’t pay off our debt as quickly. But being apart is so difficult. Should I go ahead and make the move now?
Dear Danielle: If he’s making great money, and you guys can make it on one salary while you look for another job, then I’d say go for it. There are things in life that are more important than money, getting out of debt in a certain amount of time, or a particular job.
Have you talked to your company about the possibility of doing your job remotely? If that’s not possible, maybe you could do some consulting on a remote basis. Even if you weren’t a traditional employee, they might float some projects your way.
Talk to them about these ideas, and start shopping for a position in Charlottesville. It’s a university community, if I remember correctly, so there are probably lots of opportunities in your field.
Go be with your husband, Danielle. You guys have been apart way too long already!