A question that comes up so often when you’re homeschooling, is how do you afford it? And I won’t lie, sometimes it can be really stressful and at times you wonder if it’s worth it. Most people who’ve been home educating for a long time will tell you that actually, teaching your children at home doesn’t have to be that expensive, and with the amazing resources we have at our fingertips these days, they are spot on… however the loss of income can be really, really costly. It’s rare in today’s world to find a family who are comfortably-single income, and it’s this that drives the question in home ed groups across the world time and time again.
Which brings me to another odd thing about the “so, what do you do?” question: when people ask me, it usually turns into a half-hour discussion because I don’t just do one thing! It was easy, before, because I could answer, “Oh, I’m a project manager in an adult learning setting.” Simple. Now, however, that question is a lot harder to answer, because I do a number of different, self-employed, freelance jobs. So here are some of the things I do, an some I’ve toyed with and also a couple that other home educating parents I know do – hopefully, it’ll give you some ideas.
A lot of us are actually really creative, but we’ve not had that creativity turned into anything. Ameli is dying to set up a little Etsy shop to sell paper dolls she draws. I’m not convinced about their market appeal, but what a great way for a 9-year old to start learning about entrepreneurship and business? We made Frida Kahlo pendants last year, and every single time we wear one of them, people ask us where we found them, so that’s something else we’re thinking of setting up a little Etsy shop for – the girls can make and sell them, and even if they sold 1 a month, they’d quickly build up their savings. My mom and I used to make beautiful candles when I was a child and I often think of starting that up again. It’s not likely to put me in a position to retire early, but something that can pay for a holiday or a new car would be awesome!
Got a spare room?
Our house, though clean, generally looks like a forest exploded in it – there’s always an overabundance of paper crafts and pictures, colouring, sketches, cutouts and other glittery and messy-looking things on every wall surface the architects gave us, so unless we were appealing to a particularly eclectic demographic, this isn’t likely an option for us, but I always think turning a part of our house into an Air BNB or Monday – Friday let would be a great way of bringing in some much appreciated extra money. Maybe one day. I just think it’s such a fun way to get to know people from around the world, especially where we live with its huge influx of seasonal tourists – and there are even loans to support new businesses, including Air BNB properties, and I guess if you change your mind down the line, at least you’ve done up your house a little!
Good with words?
Write a book! They say everyone has at least one story in them, and while writing a book may not make you rich, unless you’re really lucky, any books you have on Amazon or other online booksellers are a latent form of income. I have a few books floating around from years ago, and barely a month goes by where I don’t get a few pounds from it. Not much, but coffee money which doesn’t have to come out of the household budget! Don’t think this is a get-rich-quick scheme though. It takes hard work to write a good book and even harder work to promote it.
The thing is, though, your book doesn’t have to be fiction. If you spent a summer working as a life-guard, write about it. Spent it sailing yachts back to their owners? What an amazing story that could be! Worked as an au pair for a few years? Share your experience! People are much more likely to read someone’s real-life experience and no, you won’t buy your house from the profits (most likely) but little bits add up.
Proofread, edit, beta read…
I joined Fiverr a few months ago to offer my services as a proofreader, beta reader and copy editor. I studied this stuff at university (ahem, 15 years ago) and never actually worked in the field, so I’ve had to refresh myself a little, and since a lot of the audience is US based I’ve had to familiarise myself with American grammar rules, but over the last few months the work has increased and with it a steady stream of income. Search out anything you might be skilled at on Fiverr and see if you can put the pre-homeschooling-you experience to good use again.
Good with digital products?
There are actually dozens of sites online where you can offer your services as a freelancer, and while you may have to charge lower-than-you-deserve rates until you’ve built up your ‘profile’ and have enough reviews that people will trust you, once you’re established you can charge market relevant prices. They do take a huge cut, but the way I see it, I’ll happily work for a little less than I would have in an office down the road, because I know my girls are safely tucked up in their beds upstairs, and I’m not having to pay parking/lunches/uniform/childcare.
Create learning resources
I’ve said it before and will again and again… I think we’re incredibly lucky to home educate at this point in history. There’s absolutely nothing you can’t learn – or at least learn about – online. As a home educator, we are in a unique, one on one position to create resources on things that are of interest to our children – but why reinvent the wheel? Look at sites like Teachers Pay Teachers for paid resources on almost any subject – and add your our resources too. You won’t make a ton of money, and they’ll take a huge chunk of anything you make anyway, (they take 45% +30c if you’re a free basic seller) but you still get more than you would have if it was just dying a slow death on your computer!)
These are just some of the ways I raise money for my family and home, and to top up the funds for our home education. Hopefully, these will give you ideas and help you out too!