Pay your mortgage off in half the time (at least!) while homeschooling (part 1)
If you have been reading our blog for a little while, you will know that we are committed to making homeschooling workable in the long-term for families. We are a large family with 4 (and almost 5!) children, and we have often had to live on a tight budget, with one income earner, at several points in our journey.
However, a few years back we started doing some calculations, as part of a research project, and found out that we could pay our mortgage off in literally half the time, if we deposited as little as $140 more a week in to our home loans! finding $140 a week extra felt like a massive task back then, however, being at home with your family does not mean that you need to always be struggling for money. With some careful consideration and planning, you might find that you can cut your loan repayment time in half - and improve your family's health at the same time !
For the purpose of this blog, we are going to look at a $250,000 loan (if you are in a big city, then chances are that yours will be significantly higher, however in most regional areas, houses are around this mark), and aiming to pay $140/ week extra in to your loan - so how do we find that extra $140? while homeschooling, possibly while on one income? probably with 2 or more children? ...
1. Reflect on what is real food, and what is edible food-like stuff
For anyone with a big family, food is one of the major expenses. I was reading a book a little while ago that talked about modern food and our shift toward food-like stuff. The author stated that more and more, our grocery haul is filled with food-like things that are edible but are not actually nutritious for us in the least. Thinking this couldn't possibly apply to our family, I did a quick audit of the fridge and pantry and found that we indeed, were guilty of purchasing quite a lot of food that served very little nutritional purpose for us. If we are going to save $140 per week, we need to get serious about what is food, and what we are eating for fun...
To do your own audit, here is the food pyramid that we use - though you might eat other food, and can easily find different food pyramids on the web.
You will notice that this is a plant-based pyramid, as we are currently eating a mostly plant-based diet
And bonus! This is also the least expensive way that we have found to get all of our nutrients in!
I love these graphic representations of a balanced food plate, which you can find over here. If you are eating a diet with other products in it, there are many food pyramids that you can find online
2. Plan your groceries ahead of time
A new series of research projects is coming out this month on the Academy of Free Range Learning, which looks at nutrition and making up a family nutrition plan, so if you have a teenager who is a member of the AFRL then look out for that one! Planning ahead means:
creating a food plan, and looking for ingredients that are on special
going for a quick look at fresh foods that are in season and planning your meals around them
I have tried a lot of food-saving (money saving) online program challenges that were honestly, absolutely appalling for our health. $25 - 50 challenges where families try not to spend more than that on food in a week, often involved a lot of flour or no-name brand fast food type dishes (think chicken soup made with instant chicken soup packets and some flour-based dumplings thrown in - augh). That was not realistic for us. We are not willing to compromise our health for money.
Planning your meals around in-season produce avoids this
In-season foods are cheaper, fresher, and much healthier than looking for cheap pre-packaged fast foods...
If you spend $300 a week on food, this one step can save you $100 - 150 per week! and over $5200 per year
Recent studies have shown that families in Western countries throw out (wait for it...) 30% to 50% of their food, before they get to eat it! that is absolutely massive.
This $150 per week could cut potentially 15 years off the length of your home loan!
Shocking, isn't it?!
I am not the most enthusiastic, house-wife type person. I don't particularly enjoy meal planning or preparing food in advance for the week, but that is a whole lot of money that I am not happy to waste! Thinking about it in a different way - If the person earning income in your family is earning $30 per hour, that is 173 hours per year that they could be at home with your family, rather than out at work! Or 3 whole weeks of extra holiday leave... And if your food bill is much higher, then it could be a much higher figure than that!
3. Buy in bulk, freeze and store
Many years ago my MIL bought us a fantastic deep-freezer. Being the hippy I am, and buying mostly fresh-food, I never once used it. At the time, we were eating a lot of fish, and my husband used it for bait and ice... Looking back, I wish that we had been in to nice-cream (banana-based, vegan ice cream), juicing and smoothies back then, because a deep-freezer is your best friend when you are vegan (or hoping to slash your mortgage repayment time in half!). Most good -quality small to medium freezers use less than $4 extra electricity per month, and will allow you to buy bulk foods when they are on special, to cut up and freeze, ready for smoothies, nicecream, steaming or adding to soups and curries.
For example, we bought a whole bench-top full of banana's for $6 on special, peeled and froze them straight away, for a whole week of banana nicecream and smoothie breakfasts!
Doesn't look like anything special like this...
But much more impressive like this!
4. Grow your own food
While homeschooling or unschooling - this is the perfect project for very young children all of the way up to teenagers, and we will be writing more blogs this month about sustainable food options, and tips for growing your own food on a limited budget, but the take away message for this is that:
and can put a huge dent in your mortgage repayments!
Good foods to start off with, that are generally fast-growing, with high yields, in most environments, include:
and the only chemicals that are on them will be those that you choose to use in your own garden...
One of our first gardens, with our littlest helper
5. Consider homestays
Have you ever heard of homestay students? chances are, if you are homeschooling, you may have a bedroom free, and some spare time to temporarily host an international student.
Homestays can be perfect, not only for the experience of having a second language spoken by a young person in the home (who may be able to teach some words to your family during their stay) but also for the financial relief that comes with a little extra income. Most homeschooling families love children, and are home spending a good deal of time with them, which makes us perfect homestay families. Homestay students are usually in their early to late teens (many international families send their children to English-speaking countries for a few weeks at the start of their high school education) and their families are looking for a safe place for their children to stay, with families that can make them meals, spend time with them and transport them to and from school during their stay. Families can receive an allowance of $250- 280 per week to help out in this way, and the homestay children get the benefit of having a caring homeschooling family to stay with!
What is a mini-blog?
What is a mini-blog?! You know those days when you only have 5 minutes for a quick break, a cup of tea (or half a cup!) and enough headspace to get back in to the day? Our collection of mini-blogs to the rescue! 2- 5 minutes of blissful escape, just when you need it!
Mini blogs on homeschool planning
Blogs on 'a day in the life of homeschooling'