Since starting this blog, I’ve spend so much time writing about activities for children and what my children get up to. Yet I’ve never really spoken about what it’s like for me, being the home educator, the facilitator. So I’ve decided to make a small series of blogs that’s more geared towards my fellow home educators, and the common issues we might face.
In this series I hope to give some insight and advice based on my personal experience. I am by no means an experienced home educator, I have only been home educating for just over 4 years but I would like to think I have picked up some tips and tricks to help other people in that short time.
In this weeks Home Education Survival 101 post, I’m going to be discussing budgeting. I feel this is one of the biggest concerns for a lot people when choosing or considering to home educate, and often it can be a deal breaker. Obviously everybody’s situation is different but the majority of parents have to sacrifice a wage cut in order to home educate and it’s not always possible for both parents to have full time jobs. There are also plenty of lone parents home educating. So in this post I will be covering saving money and making money. It’s taken me some time to find a balance, I am still learning everyday and I am no Martin Lewis! I appreciate to some people, many of the following suggestions may seem quite simple, obvious and perhaps widely known but who knows, perhaps this post will be helpful to someone.
SO LETS TALK SAVING MONEY!
So fair enough, home educators don’t have to fork out for school uniforms and school trips but lets be honest – books, curriculum (if you use them), learning resources, craft materials and subscriptions can all add up! I haven’t included meals in this post as I will be covering that in a future post along with some recipe suggestions to help save money.
So a really obvious one but local libraries provide a myriad of books that you can borrow for free but what if your children are studying something for more than a few weeks? For instance we recently bought a science curriculum from the US called Elemental Science and although the library is great we couldn’t borrow a book for an entire year and even if that was an option, sometimes the book you want just simply isn’t stocked at your local library. Well Amazon provide excellent quality used books. Below is a photo of some books I bought for our curriculum.
Each cost no more than 24p (excluding 2nd class postage which usually isn’t expensive) yet if I had bought these books brand new they would have cost me around £13 each! As you can see the books are in very good condition so it definitely makes sense to buy used over new. Another option you can go for is to see if the kindle edition is cheaper, it’s not always cheaper but it can be as there will be times where you may not be able to get the book you want second hand.
DIY and Free Resources
Another great way to save money is to make your own worksheets, activities, craft bags and busy bags. Often all you need is craft materials (perhaps keep a bag/box and save old newspapers, loo rolls, boxes, wrapping paper etc.) and if you have Microsoft Word it’s fairly simple to make up a little worksheet.
You can also go on the hunt for free resources. Twinkl offer many freebies, as do Teachers Pay Teachers. I have also made a few worksheets and activities which are completely free to access and download on this website.
You don’t have to shell out a fortune for trips out. Pack a picnic from home and check out some free places in your local area. Most museums, local parks, libraries, landmarks and art galleries are all free to visit. You could also have a look at volunteering at a local animal sanctuary as a way of giving the kids a real experience with animals, up close and personal rather than paying expensive entry fees for zoos and farms where animals can only be viewed behind cages and fences. Just google free things to do in your area and try finding some local sanctuaries and give them a call. Even giving a friend a call and taking a trip to the park or library is simple but fun. We sometimes pack a board game and head down to the library for a change of scenery. There is also an abundance of HE groups that are free (or you pay a very small fee to cover the hall/venue hire) just have a look on your local Facebook groups and ask around.
Another really obvious one, but charity shops are great! You can get clothes, board games, books and toys all for a fraction of the price. Sometimes charity shops are even given brand new bits and pieces directly from the company as a donation, so you don’t always have to buy second hand things if you don’t want to. Similar to charity shops, it’s always worth checking out your local free-cycle, eBay and local Facebook selling pages also.
If You Don’t Ask You Don’t Get!
A lot of places do offer discounts to home educators. Reading Eggs have always offered us discounts which has always been welcomed. Toucan Box also gave us a brief discount for a few months and Twinkl offer seasonal discounts if you’re part of their Facebook group for home educators, but it is still rather expensive, especially if you’re on a tight budget. It really comes down to trial and error and if you don’t ask you don’t get. Sometimes you’ll ask a company and they’ll say no, that’s OK. It’s like haggling. You win some, you lose some!
Share Your Skills
This can be a big money saver depending on how you do it. It has to be fair on everyone involved but generally once you have made some close friends you can work among yourselves to share skills. For instance you could have a friend’s children for a few hours while they do a shift at work and vice versa. You could trade skills entirely depending on what you and a friend’s needs were. You could offer to help with chores or ironing and they could bake a cake for your child’s birthday. It’s very subjective to everyone’s needs but definitely a viable option.
NOW LETS TALK MAKING MONEY!
As I mentioned before, I totally appreciate everyone’s financial and employment situation is different but it’s not always possible for both parents to have full time jobs and home educate. There are also plenty of lone parent home educators out there where it’s just not possible for them to have a full time job on top of facilitating a full time education for their children. Apart from having a part time job or being self employed, there are some other things you can do to earn a bit money while home educating.
Something that doesn’t bring in masses but does help a little is doing surveys. A website called Prolific is a good option, you can make up to £50 a month depending on how many studies you take part in. OK, it’s not masses of money but if you think about it in this sense – remember some of the secondhand books I bought from Amazon? They were no more than 24p, that £50 spent on second hand books and learning resources from charity shops goes a long way!
Another great one that pays £40-£100 depending on the study is Focus4People they generally offer studies that are done in person in major cities but some can be done online from the comfort of your own home. I once did one that was online, it took an hour of my day and I earned £45. Not bad if you ask me! The only catch is they generally only allow you to participate in one study every 6 months.
This is one that kills two birds with one stone so to speak. As a mum and a home educator, I really can’t cope with clutter around the house, it clouds my mind and stresses me out – definitely not what I need when most of my energy is going into providing an education for three demanding children. The less stress, the better!
Books and some electronics can be sold through Music Magpie in bulk (they even collect items from your home for free) or you can list items individually on your local Facebook selling page or eBay. Clothes and old bedding can be sold in bulk to places like cash4clothes where they pay you by weight, this is a great option if you like giving to charity (they often send the unwanted clothes to places around the world where people are in need), want to make money but don’t have time to list items individually. Another option is taking all your unwanted things to a car boot sale, which can be an educational day out for the whole family on top of potentially making some money. The only downfall is there is a chance you wont sell anything and car boot sales often charge you for entry, my local one charges around £10.
Sorting through old unwanted items can be very time consuming and it’s very subjective in terms of how much money you will generate but it’s worth it all round to de-clutter. It clears your home, mind and lines your pockets with a bit of extra cash… for buying more clutter. I mean, learning resources! Yes, learning resources.
Start a Blog and Generate an Income From Affiliates
Personally, I have never generated a single penny from affiliates but it’s an option and it is possible although it’s extremely hard. I didn’t set this blog up to earn money though, it was literally a way to share our journey with friends and family easily. I do use affiliates though as any extra money to put towards my children’s education is a bonus.
Affiliates are good because it doesn’t cost the reader any extra to click on them but the blogger gets a tiny percentage from the readers purchase that would otherwise just go to the company (Amazon for example) anyway. However, this method is difficult and extremely time consuming if your sole reason for blogging is to earn money from affiliates.
Share Your Skills
Instead of trading skills for skills, perhaps offer your skills for money instead. Ironing, cleaning, baking, crafting, babysitting and dog walking (to name a few) are all viable skills to earn a bit of extra cash. Just be sure to let HMRC know you are trading if you decide to set up a little side income! You must inform them within 3 months of setting up shop.
Another way to share your skills is to do odd jobs online for others through People Per hour. This site is perfect for ordinary people with skills such as proof reading, graphics design, SEO and other computer based skills to earn some money. A perfect option for those who need to work jobs around home education that have computer skills. It’s worth checking out as someone might be advertising a job that’s perfect for you and your skill-set.
Do you have any money saving or making tips that you have found to be really helpful? Please feel free to share them below in the comments as there may be different options depending on where you live in the world.
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