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I had to smile today when I overheard the oldest two children talking about how old they’d be at the next world cup – and how they couldn’t wait to be that age, and all I could think about was that during the next world cup I hit a big birthday, and I am not in any hurry to reach that age!
It’s funny how we can’t wait to grow up, but then when we do it’s actually not as much fun as you might have thought it would be – it’s all cleaning, working and paying bills! The children pick up on lots of things and we try to keep them involved in the running of the house – they need to know that toys and books don’t magically tidy themselves away and we also make sure they have an understanding of finances.
One of the things that I see come up time and time again on Home Ed forums are questions about how to home educate on one salary. It’s straightforward, really – you simply need to cut back in certain areas and accept that you simply can’t have everything. That said, I thought I’d share some of the ways that Damian and I have made home education financially viable for us.
Direct Debit Audit
The best thing we do is to have an audit of our direct debit payments – it’s too easy to keep paying things simply because they’re on a standing order/ direct debit. We do this on a reasonably regular basis – at least every six months and make sure the amounts are as we expect them to be. We did notice we were overpaying one and were able to reclaim the monies. We also try to make sure all payments leave our account at the start of the month so we know what our financial position is. This allows us, in turn, to see how much money is left and lets us budget for the children’s activities
Raising extra cash
Every three or four months I spend time decluttering our bookcases and toys and other things – we seem to gather so much and it isn’t always used. Local selling sites and Facebook selling groups are a great way to sell items and to raise a few extra pennies. Any monies raised from selling items this way we use towards the children’s activities or other items that they may need.
It’s also possible to get a job that fits in around home education – I have a friend who sells books who has done really well with that and of course I earn a little cash through my blog. I have other friends who offer animal handling experiences and others who do online surveys etc. There are ways to work around the children, but it does require discipline.
Another option, depending on your circumstances might be to see if your home has increased its value over the years. There are calculators that can demonstrate the increase in the value of your property and this has given us options too.
Get to know your fellow home educators and share resources! It can feel quite overwhelming when you’re trying to decide what direction to take your own home education in, and there’s a lot of different things to choose from. I have a good group of friends with whom I can share ideas and resources with – I have shared books with some friends who have been following a specific topic and have been able to check out resources and curriculums other home educators are using before deciding if it’s something we want to purchase for ourselves.
Make the most of group bookings
Utilise group bookings to events such as theatre trips, events or theme parks – they often offer an educational discount rate and this can make trips out much more affordable. We have been to pantomimes, theatre shows and Christmas Steam Train trips that would have been otherwise unaffordable for us had others in the Home Ed community not made group bookings for us all to benefit from.
Soft play centres will also often offer a discounted entry rate during school hours which can make meet ups much more affordable – especially in the winter when walking around parks for hours on end is less inviting!
Home Education really is affordable if you plan your finances and make sure you know what your financial commitments are. Sites like Talk Tax will help you to navigate some of the ‘official’ areas that you might be able to claw back money from. My experience has been that there are always home educating friends willing to share resources and ideas. What other ways do you manage to make home education affordable?