Something for the credit crunch
These are some of the ways in which we've found that it's actually better to have less money:
- Poverty requires creativity. That perfect costume or outfit can't be bought: it must be made, and often adapted from the old curtains or other spare fabric that's been saved. This cuts down shopping time and stretches brains: the skill of turning opportunities to suit what's needed doesn't come from nowhere.
- Expensive courses, activities or lessons aren't really an option, or if they are, they require such swingeing cuts from other departments of family life that those undertaking them don't commit too lightly, or on a whim. I think this leads to time being better spent doing what people really want to do.
- Home ed in poverty engenders a 'can do' attitude: my sons were building computers and networks practically (but not quite) out of old yogurt pots and bits of string when they were 10, 11, 12 and couldn't bear to take turns. Now we don't need to pay expensive retail - or even wholesale - prices for our stuff. We can usually adapt what we have to our changing needs, or build something new out of next to nothing, in terms of cost. We certainly fix all our own equipment, which brings me to..
- Learning through necessity is almost as great a motivator as is learning through curiosity. We know how a washing machine works, ditto a domestic plumbing and electrical system, and a central heating system, how a roof drains, how a car engine works, how to spot-weld, which firewood burns the best and which wild plants are edible because we've had to learn these things. This means that we aren't so much at the mercy of tradesmen or retail systems, and economic downturns (with attendant exodus of Polish plumbers, etc.) go largely unnoticed by us.
- Children living in families with 'just enough' become numerate at a very early age. Whether it's working out whether we can afford to tax the car, why seasonal veg is cheaper, or just how much money there is to spend, adding up the pounds and pence is a vital skill, quickly learned.
- Even learning to read takes on a different importance in times of hardship. (If cheap baked beans constitute hardship..)
- I think the lack of spare funds makes for more individually-honed provision, perhaps because parents have to be more on hand and attentive - there isn't really the option to buy in other tuition or coursework.
I see that I've written about this before, and no doubt I will again. It's an increasingly pertinent issue, isn't it?
Having less money has meant more challenges for us, which have strengthened our family unit to the extent that we can think about very long-term projects that involve us all. It's been such a good thing that I wouldn't have changed it. I just wanted to say that belt-tightening does not have to be bad news.