“This Isn’t Russia.”

Caddyshack-300x225In the midst of a mentoring session with Danny Noonan on the golf course, Ty Webb, Chevy Chase’s character in Caddyshack, instructs Danny, “You don’t have to go to college.  This isn’t Russia.  Is this Russia?  This isn’t Russia.”  Jim Stovall and I thought you may need a bit more instruction than this on the matter, so we dedicated a chapter to education planning and saving for education in The Financial Crossroads.  We’d like to share some of our contrarian thoughts with you for this week’s Crossroads Conversation…

From Chapter Fourteen: If Cost Were No Object:

2009-porsche-911-carrera-s

Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor at Automobile Magazine said, “When someone asks me what car I’d buy if cost were no object, I pretty much always say the 911.”  Ms. Skogstrom is referring to the Porsche 911, the iconic sports car to best all sports cars.  The magazine was reviewing Porsche’s newest creation, the 2009 911 Carrera 4S.  I can remember as a boy, too young to even drive, having one of those hypothetical daydreams as I thumbed through a magazine of sports cars, picturing a wealthy philanthropist walking up to me and saying, “Hey kid, I’ll buy you any car in that magazine——the cost is no object.”  In that recurring daydream, I too have always answered, “The 911.”  There’s just something about it.  But alas, when it comes to automobiles, cost is an issue, so I’ll not be parting with the $109,000 that would be required to buy the 2009 Carrera 4S, “as tested.”

There are very few things in life for which we could actually say money is no object.  The health and welfare of my family is the first that comes to my mind. But even then, I confess that I certainly have allowed money into my decision-making process.  I have, for instance, chosen a pediatrician who is in my health insurance network.  Is there a better pediatrician that may offer a concierge medical service independent of insurance hassles?  Possibly, but I haven’t explored those options because I know the cost is quite high.  For most decisions in life, money may not be the primary driving force in our decision, but we delude ourselves if we claim that it is a forgotten non-factor.

This is no more evident than in the realm of education.  Does education have a price?  As parents, do we owe our children a particular educational path?  Is a college education an entitlement or a privilege?  Before we jump headlong into this debate, let me clarify a few things.  Learning has inherent value that is incalculable.  Education is one of the primary ways that we learn.  I don’t, even for a second, want you to receive a message suggesting that education is overrated.  I teach on the college level and believe that it is one of the more important things that I do in life, but I don’t believe that any and all education is priceless.

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