Cutting and keeping expenses low for us, does not mean a life of deprivation, although perhaps in some areas when life demands it we do have to go without for periods of time. One area though that we try real hard in achieving is always coming up with the financial means to give our children learning opportunities.
You see we homeschool yet we do not do so in the traditional sense, we do not educate using a public school model, we do not use a set curriculum, test or grades, or even a set schedule. We are unschoolers which means learning is child directed according to interests and strengths of our children. As parents we are facilitators with a deep involvement and always available to our children. We introduce activities and new experiences to help our children explore areas they may not have thought of. Sometimes this leads to new found passions, other times they find they do not like what we have introduced and have the opportunity to say no thank you.
We view learning as a life long endeavor where learning is not as simple as cutting out hundreds of cookies of the same shapes and sizes. Learning is not a one size fits all mold and no set age and which one MUST learn a particular subject. Learning is also not something that is separate from living only to be done in a set time frame.
I am always on the look out for new material, new opportunities and new experiences. I make conscious purchase decisions for birthdays, holidays and throughout the year of where to spend money to enhance the natural curiosity and interests of the children.
This year for example we purchased a chemistry set for our sons birthday, we even purchased a shower curtain that displays the periodic table of elements. He is also fascinated with Japan so over time we have purchased many things related to Japan such as language courses, dictionaries, books on their culture, documentaries on the Samurai swords and such. He plans on going to live there when he turns 18 and we support this in any way we can, for this is the path he has decided is right for him. This may change but as this has been his path since he was 4 I don't think so.
Our daughter is creative and artistic so we recently spent money for her to take several art workshops and even an art mentor program through a local art gallery. She has also stated an interest in learning to play violin so we purchased a violin for her birthday and she will start violin lessons right after her birthday in May. We also routinely spend money on craft and art supplies as she goes through them like there is no tomorrow! She is into animals as well, so here I did purchase a zoology course from Aplogia that we are working through now.
While I may watch pennies in most every other sense of the fashion, learning opportunities is not one of them. I will do what ever I need to do to raise money for these additional expenses and feel it is always money well spent. A few years ago, our son thought he wanted to learn to play electric guitar, so we had to special order one for him as he was left handed and our area did not have any left handed guitars. We paid twice as much as we would of normally and put him through 3 months of lessons when he discovered he did not like it as much as he thought he would.
Many looked at this as a waste of money but money was not the issue for us. We paid not so he could learn guitar, we paid for the experience which he discovered in the end, he did not like. How could he have known for sure if we had not spent the money for him to find out? We do not feel we waste money by offering them new experiences which is a process of self discovery and a learning process all in itself.
We feel that life experiences and opportunities for learning, is not one area we are willing to cut expenses in. We can not always afford everything they may hope for such as at the moment dance classes, but we try then to find alternatives to give them a taste that we can afford such as dance lesson DVD's or similar materials.
I have my kids best interest always in mind and will always put our money toward the opportunity for learning and growth to keep that burning desire to learn and grow alive.
We spend for learning..........
How about you, where is one area in your finances that you are not willing to cut corners on?