It's like this...
In my late twenties, when I was working full time and had been saving for a bit, I bought this house during a downturn in the property market. As it had been empty for two years and it's on a council estate, I got a bit of a bargain... one that I'm still paying off, I hasten to add! Still, this, to me, is the main thing that sets us apart from being really poor. More so than our restrictions on heating usage, or the inability to buy many of the foodstuffs I once enjoyed, or the lack of any but the most basic of holidays.
I no longer have to answer to a landlord/landlady, housing association or council and that, in my book,makes me wealthier than I had dreamed possible as a child. One day I might tell you all about my experiences of renting - of forced evictions, of racism in tenant selection, of mouldy water running down the walls whilst there was no fresh water to flush the toilet or bathe or drink, of the day the "News of The World" interviewed me because they'd heard of my tenancy problems...
Anyhow, back to today...
We can't afford many of the outings that some people see as central to HE but Cupcake gets regular trips to see family and friends living elsewhere in the country and educational outings are tied in with those where possible. Cupcake has never been abroad on holiday but once a year we aim for a couple of days away in the UK (budget city hotel or Butlins).
We don't do lots of activity clubs and HE groups but Cupcake gets to do the couple of things she is most passionate about. We don't have most of the latest or best technology but we do have a couple of older computers operating Windows Vista, a family Android tablet, and Wi-Fi.
We don't have cable or satellite television but we do have a flat-screen TV (bought when our last one died), Freeview and a decent collection of DVDs (mostly pre-loved).
We don't have smart phones or phone contracts but we do have a home phone, and functioning,if dated, mobile phones with PAYG.
We also don't buy curriculum or purchase online memberships to educational websites but I am great at sourcing educational bargains and tracking down on-line freebies (really, you would not believe some of the stuff I've come across for free!)
And yes, I never go hungry.
Life could be much, much worse.
I guess what I'm saying is that you can home educate on limited means. I hear so many people thinking they can't afford to HE when I think you can't afford not to consider HE unless your circumstances are very dire indeed. Sure, sometimes they aren't revealing the real reason they won't consider HE but I also think for some people it's genuinely not on their radar because of the media image of home education as an elite choice for the privileged children of head-in-the-money-clouds parents.
So here I am refuting that. Not just refuting that but, hopefully, proving that home education on the cheap is possible.
Frankly, as I'm still here, Cupcake's daddy is still fully employed, our home still has a roof and we are all (relatively) healthy... life is good.
Sure, the money is tight and there are other things I'd change. But so what?
It makes me almost thankful for growing up in poverty! You see, as a result of those poor beginnings, Thrifty is my middle name... along with my other middle name, Frugal :-)
And consequently, home education, for me, is not just about what we spend directly or indirectly on educational materials and outings, but also about what we save. We don't buy school uniforms and school kit. We don't have compulsory school outings fees. There are no school meals, or after/ before/ school-holiday clubs. The keeping-up-with-the-Joneses purchases school-going children tend to request also aren't usually made in this house. Nor are those made by keeping-up-with-the-Joneses parents of school kids for that matter!
We manage to learn plenty without spending much. And no, I don't see that substantially changing in the future. I have been a bargain hunter for so long I am pretty sure I can cut my cloth even tighter if it should be required... So home education it is, Cupcake won't go to school unless she specifically requests it (and I can't see that happening any time soon!)
Yep, make do and mend is okay by us.
I mean, I have been
Indeed, it turns out I am almost fashionable now! Really! You should have heard the jealous gulps from an old well-to-do acquaintance a few months ago when I mentioned I had several vintage cake stands just sitting on a top shelf at home, never once having been decorated with a cake pop or two... I'd barely mentioned the drawers full of hand embroidered linens and the pre-war china before she struggled to avoid directly offering to buy it all, "You know, they'd all fetch good money on Ebay.. or you could just put a card in a shop window or ask around... you'd probably get quite a bit for them, they're so hard to find now... I wish I'd never got rid of mine... I mean, why not release the value in them... it sounds as if you don't use them, maybe the money would be worth more to you..."
However, being the home educator I am, I told her that such things were priceless as objects of Living History. It's all of value in an autonomous education!
Sure, the limited income thing means I worry about my old age (and at nearly fifty that seems not so far away now). I wonder how we'll be able to help Cupcake out financially as she gets older (though she says she is never leaving home!). I think about how she'll feel as her contemporaries start to put more value on the stuff of consumerism - the labelled clothing, the fancy outings, the latest online purchases etc and whether she'll resent our choice of HE life over extra-income...
But then I recall how, at the last car boot sale, someone asked her for £1 for some little toy and she refused to pay it saying, "It's not worth that. Will you take 50p?" (to which an astounded passerby said, "Boy, she knows her own mind!")
And more seriously...
I also think of the woman I met recently who said one of her single-mom friends has just died of cancer in her mid forties, leaving behind a young adopted daughter.
A daughter who is now off to live abroad, in a palatial house, in a dual high-income family of strangers, with the promise of a very good school awaiting her...
Well, pardon me for not feeling consoled on her part.
'Cos you know what? Life is short and childhood is even shorter. So short that home education, IMHO, should be seriously considered by just about everyone.
Well, you can't take it with you, can you?