Tag Archive | economy

Our purse might be almost empty but our hearts can still be full

littlehampton beach 008 Goodness! Does it really cost £148,000 to raise a child? That’s what a report on the news this morning told me: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-23726224

It’s shocking to read of so many families in a crisis of poverty. Yet they’re surviving on nothing like this amount and still providing a decent standard of living. Who trots figures like this out? We certainly had nothing like it.

But I wonder sometimes whether we perhaps all need to reappraise our view of ‘decent’ in hard economic times. And it is all relative anyway.

A decent house to some may be any roof over their heads, never mind a bedroom for each child. A decent life to others may mean running water – somewhere nearby – even if not in the house! Decent shoes to some might be nothing less than a designer pair, whereas others don’t even have shoes. And we all expect to have updated technology where once we didn’t need any at all.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t have these things, just asking how much is necessary for decent? Have we lost sight of what actually gives us quality in life?

Times are indeed extremely tough. And we have to draw on our deepest resources, not only to meet bills, but more importantly to keep our thinking straight about what really matters. The ethos for families since the 1950s has been to raise the ‘standard of living’ but I do wonder if it’s got to the point where it’s led us to raise our children to expect more and more and more, over and above what we need for health and happiness.

Not only are we less wise about our budgets, maybe we’re less wise about fulfilment too.

We have been conditioned by the commercial and societal hype that promotes buying as happiness or showing love. We have become confused about the difference between need and want. And just because we’re budgeting with money does not necessarily mean our happiness has to be budgeted too.

We have to change our thinking.

Our family has been challenged by very money-tight times over the years. Everything was done extremely economically. But something I noticed happening was that whilst I was taking my money economy to every possible extreme I was also being economical with happiness and love too. And I didn’t have to be.

And that was to do with a state of mind.

We’ve been conditioned nowadays to expect so much and soon feel deprived not having it. But in reality it doesn’t take much to make us feel good. Time with loved ones can do it. A day of sunshine. A smile or a hug. A purposeful activity. Appreciation of all the things we have got rather than the things we haven’t. Good health and mobility.

Basically, your purse might be almost empty but your heart can still be full.

It is what you do and the way you think that fills the heart. And we need to pass that understanding onto our children.

Even better; being very resourceful with our budgets, with our food, our clothes, our facilities and commodities, not only saves us pennies but it saves the ecological impact we have on the planet too. Being resourceful stretches our minds and our thinking, develops intelligence and creativity, makes us increasingly resilient and capable.

It’s a win-win-win situation. And a brilliant message to be handing down the generations. A message that many of us, despite hard economies, in many ways have so much.

Thatcher bites the dust…

No one can divide feeling like Maggie.

Don’t know whether I feel more divided about her than I do any politician – just suspicious of their motives, as always.

I admire the fact she was the first of her kind; I hope she’ll be the last.

How pleased I was for women when she got in – not so pleased after a while. She didn’t represent real women at all. She was just like a man with a handbag.

How chuffed I was that a woman actually got an important role for once.

Not so chuffed about the fact it probably destroyed any faith in women in that kind of role and probably has ruined it for all women politicians who follow on.

We thought at the time a woman and a mum at the head of the country might do something important. With sensitivity. I think she had the sensitivity of a rampaging bullock, even if one with a full set of balls. And a handbag.

But perhaps she had to – to survive.

But I feel no more for her than I do for any politician and that is; a deep lack of trust, a sense that they have a personal and mercenary agenda that’s not going to do the rest of us a hell of a favour, and that they all tell us terrible lies. The word corrupt springs to mind. They are as genuine as fake Gucci.

Whilst she wore her flash shoulder pads and pearls people went hungry, homeless and jobless.

Today, whilst politicians flash about with disgusting incomes, creating cuts that people other than them have to bear, we bleed as a result. Some hungry, homeless, jobless.

No difference really.

Another one bites the dust – who cares. Except that, as always, it’s the commoners who bite the bill.

Old swimming costumes and education!

001 I’ve just been cutting up a swimming costume. I’m reusing.

Materials like the one it’s made from make great garden ties for the roses and other climbing plants. It also means I don’t have to fork out for expensive garden string Garden Centres would have me believe I can’t do without!

Tights are another favourite for this job but since I don’t wear them I watch the girls like a predator and as soon as there’s a hole coming; ‘can I have your tights?’ Unfortunately they like holes and wear all their stuff to death anyway so then I move onto my husband’s socks.

Socks are good, in fact, any stretchy fabric’s good for string replacement; strappy tops, T-shirts, stockings. Whenever things get past their original use they get another one. Vests and T-shirts make good cleaning cloths. From the legs of jeans you can make those tubular storage bags for carriers. From the top part my daughter used to make hand bags.

You can grow plants in old boots and shoes and a whole variety of containers. I remember the children made jewellery from old tools and the bits from a dismantled video player. We made bird-scarers from old CDs. And we always kept a multitude of boxes and tubs in all sizes and shapes for model making or covering and making our own storage or shelving.

Once you get your mind working that way the list goes on.

The first advantage of all this is it costs you nothing so you can work less hours and spend more time with your children.

The second advantage is that it stimulates the brain which develops intellect and thinking skills and makes kids resourceful.

The third advantage is that it helps you buy less, so there’s less to tidy away (big advantage!) but more importantly it’s essential for the planet; less industry and less waste and therefore pollution.

And finally it is fundamental to respect. Respect is paramount to living. And education.

We live on this planet, greedily use its resources, yet completely take them for granted. When do we ever consider as we tap away on our laptops and tablets, which we probably discard and replace every few years, that they have cost the earth? And I don’t mean that purse wise, I mean planet wise – in their making, through the materials needed, by their eventual waste.

Every resource we use needs to be respected because basically every time we buy something we pollute something.

And our kids are going to be left with the legacy of that. That’s why respect for every resource needs to be embedded in our children’s education.

Now, how many more uses are there for an old swimming costume!

You don’t have to be rich…

… to provide a rich home education. But people often forget that so I thought I’d re-post this to explain

It’s so great when I get feedback on the things I’ve written letting me know that it’s helped, both here and on articles or about the book. Nothing like a compliment to urge me on. (Same with kids!) But it also reassures me that I’m on the right track (or should that be; write track). After all – that’s why I write – to help families with their home education and all parents to think in different ways about their children’s learning. To help folks see beyond the institutional box.

One of the themes that has come up on several occasions is the idea that only the rich can afford to home educate. But I want to reassure you that this is not the case.

Admittedly money can make life easier. But it doesn’t always make it better. And it doesn’t always follow that it will make education better either.

I know home educating families that manage on one (sometimes very low) income just so that they can provide their children with a happy learning experience when their school fails to do so. Many home educating families (like us) don’t use expensive tutors, don’t splash out on expensive materials, and may live in a way some might see as impoverished.

Yet they provide a rich and varied, inspirational and successful education and life for their kids by their own creative, broad minded approach. An approach that goes beyond the more traditional, often mind numbing, heavily academic one children get when confined in school.

The richness of the world is all around our children. All they need are devoted adults who have the time and energy to bring it to their attention and they will become educated. And many families go without other less important material things in order to do just that.

I do so hope that parents understand that home schooling isn’t only for wealthy families. Wealth in education is about the mind and the spirit, not about material things. And it is in the entrepreneurial spirit of home education that the wealth lies.

Educational should be inspirational, but it is not material wealth that makes it so. It is the experiences of the learners. That is the way in which home educators, whatever their income, make it so rich and successful.

(You can read just how we did that in my new story A FUNNY KIND OF EDUCATION. But for ideas on activities check out the other one LEARNING WITHOUT SCHOOL. HOME EDUCATION.)

And do please add all thrifty tips, resources and experiences for others to use in the comments below.

More important than money…

Find his book on amazon

Have you ever thought of living without money?

We immediately think we can’t but my fellow author and friend Mark Boyle managed it for over two years and wrote his account of it in his book The Moneyless Man, because he believes that money is really the underlying cause of our destruction of the planet.

He also believes that the education system trains our children for a ‘highly monetised economy’ and questions whether this is right. Therefore he is a great supporter of home education and as such asked me to write a post for his brilliant blog (see it here).

Even more importantly he is the founder of the Freeconomy Comminity (click here), a community of people who swap skills rather than money to get their needs met, reinforcing relationships; the foundation of living together harmoniously.

His ideas are fascinating to read and fit in very well with the natural and organic approach some parents adopt in educating their children, sharing and swapping skills and support within communities.

Mark believes that togetherness, love, community and the planet are far more important than money. And perhaps this is an important lesson to be sharing with our children.

The Money-Less Man

  Don’t you love it when you get a book that really moves you?

Mark Boyle’s book The Money-Less Man has been one of those.

Mark, who started the Freeconomy community did an experiment to see if he could live for a year without any money. He believes that it is our use of money, and the lifestyles we’ve built around it, which is what really causes the most damage to the earth. This book, The Money-Less Man, is a record of his year.

What moved me the most about this story is Mark’s dedication and integrity in setting up his experiment and courage in carrying it out. He’s really trying to make a difference. Throughout the book he makes us think how we can make a difference too, even in small less dramatic ways. He is not asking that we all go to the same extremes as him. But what he is doing is raising awareness of the desperate need for change to our wasteful and destructive habits which are ruining our planet.

What I also love about it and his Freeconomy website is his concept of ‘giving’ rather than spending. His idea is that rather than using money in payment for the things we need we can use instead other more personal things like skills, or time, or experience. And through the spirit of giving our skills and expertise in payment, not only do we keep our lives more local therefore cutting down on pollution, we also build relationships, friendships, and rekindle old community bonds.

I could really identify with this as having been part of a home educating community we experienced firsthand the idea of sharing skills among us, passing books and materials around, supporting one another in our less mainstream choices. Mark is taking it further and through his website shows us how we can do exactly the same on a national scale.

Personal giving is not based on how much or how little money you have, as with so many other aspects of our society. And giving creates a bond and perhaps a better approach to living together than one where differences in our monetary status are more than likely to drive us apart.

Very poignant in present times!