A testimony from Melissa
My husband was born in Japan and only came to the U.S. 12 years ago. His entire family is still in Japan, so it was important to us that our children learn Japanese.
Our first child was born six years ago, and though my husband spoke to him in Japanese, my son only picked up bits and pieces because I don’t know the language, so my son couldn’t hear real conversation.
We discovered a Japanese Montessori Language school close to our home, but it came with a hefty price tag — $750 for half-day Japanese instruction and $970 for half-day Japanese instruction and half-day English instruction.
At the same time, my husband was in graduate school and making little-to-no money monthly. We were living entirely off my teaching salary, but it was very important to us that my son learn Japanese so he could communicate with his relatives.
How We Did It
Here is how we paid for three years of Japanese language school (we estimated this cost us $27,000 over the three years):
- Have only one car. I drove the car, and my husband took public transportation.
- Limit eating out. We try to spend less than $100 a month on eating out.
- Cook in bulk. This eliminates the need to eat out after a crazy day and also helps to lower the grocery bill.
- Take on additional work opportunities. Throughout the three years, I occasionally took on extra work at the school I taught at to make some more money.
- Subscribe to basic cable. We only had the cable that was necessary to get in regular broadcast channels.
- Have date night at home. We couldn’t afford the cost of a babysitter and going out, so we often had a date night at home and rented a movie and ate take out. When we did go out on a date (rarely), my mom watched the kids for free.
- Buy and keep a minimal wardrobe. Many of our clothes come from thrift shops or consignments stores. If I did buy new for work, it was always at a steep discount.
- Keep electronic luxuries to a minimum. We only have one cell phone that we buy minutes for when we need it. We don’t have iPods, mp3 players or any other modern electronic gadgets. A digital camera is about as advanced as we get technologically.
- Pack lunches. My husband and I both packed our lunches every day so we wouldn’t be tempted to eat out at work.
The $27,000 we invested in my son’s language development had a hefty price tag. We still rent and probably will for several more years. However, it is a sacrifice we are willing to make so our children can communicate with their grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins in Japan.
In another year we will be paying for my daughter to attend the same school, but in our opinion, it is money well spent.
Melissa is a stay-at-home mom to three children ages 6, 2 and 6 months. She and her husband are now saving for their next child to attend Japanese school. She blogs at and .
Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? .