Is it worth six grand to have a happy teenager?

AGE really makes a huge impact on your life when you’re a teenager. I know this from experience, as I was always one of the youngest in my grade.

I’m a late November baby and as a result, I was just 16 years old when I graduated high school; we threw our caps in the air mid-November.

And you know what? It kind of sucked.


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I was always the last to do things. I was amongst the last to get an after-school job. The last to get my learner’s permit. The last to have a birthday party each year.

While some of my friends in grade 12 were turning 18 and going to nightclubs for the first time, I was still waiting to get my licence.

I just always felt so… Left behind.

Interestingly, school age cut-offs have changed. These days, not only does formal schooling include two extra years – there was no pre-prep when I was little, and prep was optional – but the cut-off is now worked out according to the financial year, not the calendar year.

This means children born between July and the following June get clumped together, rather than those born between January and December.

This puts me in an interesting predicament.

Under this framework, my daughter, born July 6, will be the very oldest of her grade.

Or perhaps not. Late last year, it was announced that children who turn 5 before July 31 will now be eligible to enter prep for that school year, a full month later than the previous end date of June 30.

This means that (when the time comes, a year or two from now), we’ll have to make the decision about whether to hold her back and enrol her a year later, or sign her up for a spot as one of the youngest in the grade.

Following my own experiences, I’m keen to hold her back. That said, we could save the better part of six grand by dumping that final year of daycare.

So, I think I’ve come up with a solution. When it comes time to make the decision, if we decide enroll her early, we’ll keep paying her daycare fees, but into a separate bank account she can access when she’s 16.

She can then have the $6,000 (plus interest) in saved kindy fees to put towards a car.

End result: she might be one of the last in her year level to drive, but at least she’ll have her own wheels!

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