1. Saving For The Big Things
Get the kids involved. Birthdays, for goodness sake make use of them. We do two things for birthdays here, the first is the kids can choose somewhere to go, can be for food or a fancy chocolate treat (my middle miss eight loves san churos) these outings are treats, we totally can’t afford them more than that. The second thing is the kids have a birthday budget of $50 if they know it’s comming up they can save up pocket money from random things in advance and add their birthday money from family into the mix to get big things. Last birthday my eleven year old purchased a weather station and a huge pile of candy. He was promptly crazy for a week and then hid in his room doing his sciencey thing, immersed in his weather books and telling me all about cloud formations, he was drawing pictures of violent tornados and got all giddy when the weather was a bit whacky outside. My eight year old purchased a bunch of lego and some copic marker pens cause that’s what the “pros” (on youtube) use to draw manga. Very handy that they naturally go for their own homeschool resorces and I’m not stuck thinking of what to get, (or worse, get something they dont think is cool and totally waste money) it’s all on them and they do ok with it.
2. Gifts Of Experience
Stop buying stuff, when you do get some money buy a lasting experience gift. Get access to a pro (whatever the kids are into) via workshops or a class, get a season pass to the local pool/zoo/science center or something else to DO. All those unschool days between paychecks you got somewhere to be if people want a day out without a huge price tag. You could even save a bit more by preparing lunch yourself. (Seriously, a home made salad wrap won’t cost you anywhere near as much time or money as a store bought cup o’ chips and if your kids are used to it, they won’t care and be healthier for it too)
3. Upcycled & Organized Resource Storage
Use what you have, aside from the loose parts you can gather for free or very cheap as amaze learning resources (article on that here), keep and upcycle your rubbish. Things like tin cans and all manner of stackable lidded containers are great for keeping your homeschool spaces organized. We even have a few hand made vine baskets to store stuff in too. (Weaving a basic basket from free weeds in your local area is probably something I should write a tutorial about, it’s stupid easy to do and looks so sweet and rustic). Here are some container ideas we use and have stayed with us for years. So stop throwing out your storage solution already, Howards storage got nothing on a creative kid with electrical tape and a washed, de-sharped tin can.
I’m not a fan of stuff being everywhere in my house so we aim to have less stuff that is of greater varied use or personal value that is stored well. This makes the budget simpler and we don’t waste money in places it is not needed and as a bonus, tidy up is kid friendly and a total no brainer, even I can do it before a second cup of coffee, amaze!
(As an example of varied use resource, our molly mod kit, which is generally used for visualizing molecular chemistry by the eleven year old is also a whacky building balls set for our three year old. Two resorces in one means money saved, Woohoo!)
4. Posters, Pictures & Displays
I used to spend tons of money on educational posters and plaster my walls with things I wanted the kids to be interested in. It was like a house full of educational advertising and quite frankly it did nothing. Was just as much of a put off as that analogy suggests. One or two posters up for each kid is enough, don’t go nuts. It’s overwhelming with more stuff on the walls and a super doper, sure fire way to make your kids oblivious to the info there for the self preservation of their sanity. Focus posters and wall decorations on things that are useful rather than on what you think is educational. My 8yo has a copic colour blending chart (she got it for free for talking the talk while we were out buying markers, lucky chook) and my 11yo has a world map and periodic table. Both useful to his regular conversations and studies online. Nothing else adorns my walls in our learning space now… its peaceful plain walls for us 😉
5. Budgeting Free Outings
If you live out of town like we do, you probably need to budget petrol wisely. Have a general idea of where you need to go in a pay cycle and try to put a couple of things that are in the same direction together. My kids don’t do big group get togethers and have friends up to an hours drive away so we plan these trips with a few other things along the way. Finding cool playgrounds, walk tracks or heading to the beach for a swim in between can be stress relief from long trips with little ones in the car and cost you no more in fuel.
Do you have any tips for unschooling on a budget? would love to hear more. 🙂
I hope you enjoy the rest of your day, from Becca.