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We Paid Cash! :: Japanese Language School

We paid cash!

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.

The Background

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 Mom’s Plans and Dining Out Challenge.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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  1. Megan says

    What a generous gift this is to your children! I have always envied my friends who grew up in bilingual homes. Your son – and the rest of your children as they complete their schooling – will have an even richer life experience due to your sacrifice. Thanks for an inspiring story!

  2. Rie says

    I totally commend you on all your doing for your kids. I was born in Japan my parents are Japanese and we only spoke Japanese at home. Now me with 3 kids I have been bad and speaking to them in English with very little Japanese. My kids are 8,5 and almost 3. My parents still only speak Japanese so your story has made me want to work hard to speak to them in my native language.


  3. Sally Cree says

    Good for you for starting language early! My teen is studying Japanese and struggles for every noun, adjective and verb. It’s slow going. If only we’d known when she was a tot that she’d develop a passion for all things Japanese we could have started when it would have been easier!



  4. Kim says

    I’m curious if the price you are quoting for the schooling is the cost per month? Also I hope that you’ll say how you are saving for your additional children to attend because if I read correctly it looks like you are now a SAHM.

    • says

      @Kim, Yes, the cost is per month.

      My daughter will be eligible to start the school this fall when she turns three, but we may wait until the winter to give us more time to save up money for it because yes, I am staying home right now. I have also spoken with the owner of the school, and she generously offered to give me a $150 a month discount if I would agree to volunteer for all outings and help clean the school during their annual cleaning day. We hope to have enough saved before she starts so we will only be paying around $400 a month (after we use our savings we specifically set aside for this).

  5. jane says

    great job.. really appreciate ur efforts to make children learn the language so that they can converse with all relatives..i’m really impressed..I hope others learn from u..

  6. says

    Thank you for sharing this! I was so moved by your determination to provide this for your children. In addition to having another language, they have the priceless gift of watching a united husband and wife financial team in action!

  7. Sunny says

    Thank you for sharing your story! It is so encouraging! I am Chinese and my husband is an American. During the day, I speak to my 7-month old daughter in Chinese and read her Chinese christian bible stories. We switch back to English and read her English rhyme bible when my husband comes back home in the evening. We also exclusively listen to Chinese christian radio whenever my daughter is awake, since I cannot talk all the time. I hope that my daughter will be able to communicate with my parents freely in Chinese in the future. I know there are foreign language story-telling programs in our local public library on Saturdays. I will take her there once she is little bigger, so she can be exposed to Spanish, Italian and Russian. I don’t expect she can learn them all, but it is just beneficial that she is able to pronounce as many sounds as possible. In the future, she can pick up foreign languages faster when she becomes interested in any of them.

    • marney says

      Interesting! My cousin’s situation was similar when she had her twins. Her husband is from Argentina, and although my cousin speaks Spanish fluently, the doctor told her to speak English only to the children and her husband to speak Spanish only, and both parents to speak English to each other at home (they live in England).

  8. Kelly Akers says

    That is a wonderful gift for your children and I commend you for that. Would it be more cost effective for you to learn Japanese and teach the other two children?

    • says

      @Kelly Akers, Yes, it probably would be. I started taking Japanese classes when we were first married. I did okay when I had A LOT of time to study, but with a full-time job at the time, I started to fall behind as I got busier. I am now actually learning when I hear my son and husband communicating. We hope to send our other two children to the language school, but if we move out of the area, we will have to find another alternative.

    • Wendi S says

      @Kelly Akers, cost effective, probably. But learning from someone who is a native speaker is better in many ways than learning from someone who isn’t. I speak Spanish as a second language and my husband is learning it, and while I’m we’re teaching our children, I know what they learn from us is missing so much in the way of nuance, connotation, idiomatic expressions, correct accent, and so on.

  9. Glenda says

    Loved reading about your efforts — so important. I grew up in a military family overseas (2 years in Japan) and I can attest at how wonderful it was to be exposed to various cultures while growing up. You’re giving your children more gifts than you even know of! Keep up the good work!

  10. says

    Loved reading this! I would love for my children to attend a Russian Language school so they could converse with relatives, but there is nothing here like that. Instead, we attend church in Russian and I teach them as much as I can. I hope to someday be able to do more!

  11. Jennifer says

    I’m curious how using something like Rosetta Stone would work in this situation? I’ve never used Rosetta Stone but heard rave reviews of it from a friend. I’ve planned on using in the future when we have children as I would want them to learn Spanish. It is still better to learn from a native speaker? I’ve just planned on Spanish as a second language because we have so many people who speak it in my area of the country.

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