Tom and I were walking Lulu around the neighborhood in her stroller when he suddenly sprang a number on me.
“That’s what we need to start saving every month to have enough for her college education,” he explained.
I stopped pushing the stroller and gaped at him.
“That’s a lot of money!”
He nodded. “Well…yeah…college is expensive and it’s going to keep going up.”
“But…but…” Did I dare say what was on my mind?
Of course I would.
“But what about a fund for travel?” I sputtered, as I watched visions of every remaining penny we had dance before my eyes into the not-yet-started college fund.
“We have to save for college, Gina,” Tom said emphatically.
“Yes, I know,” I said as I started pushing the stroller again. “I just didn’t think it would be so much so soon. I figured we’d start in five years or so when we’re making more and then…you know…compound interest and…stuff.”
Tom’s the finance whiz in our family. Me not so much. But surely the number he said couldn’t be right.
“That is including compound interest.”
Of course it was. I threw that out just to sound smart, but I should have known Tom had already taken such a metric into account.
“And so if we have another kid in a couple years, that number will double?”
“Except it’s not.”
I looked at my sweet daughter’s face sleeping in the stroller as Tom’s reality check sank in. Of course I want her to go to college and be educated and not be stressed about finances for it. Of course I want to do everything in my power to provide that for her.
But what about other forms of education? Traveling teaches empathy, humility, and a sense of self better than any other method I’ve seen. I want Lulu to have that, too. I want her to be book smart, street smart, and world smart.
I said as much to Tom.
He agreed, but said the numbers didn’t lie and we needed to start saving for college even if it meant substantially dipping into our travel fund.
I know he’s right (as much as I may not want to admit it).
But still I wonder…
If we do have to start making either/or decisions on traveling versus saving for formal education, is the latter always the right choice for our children? I worry that Tom and I — in our effort to give Lulu the world — might actually get sidelined from showing her the world.
It might be hard, but I know we’ll keep working (literally and figuratively…heh) to find that balance. I’m thankful that we are in the position to be able to work on such a balance.
(And I’m also thankful for compound interest.)