As I was “researching” yesterday’s blog, ie finding the link for an old episode of The Good Life, I couldn’t resist a sneaky peak and before I knew it I was hooked.
I had forgotten just how quietly radical Tom Good’s decision to chuck in his life as a wage slave was. It wasn’t just about self-sufficiency it was about self-determination – showing how easy it is to let money control you rather than the other way round. In the first episode we saw Tom and Barbara triumphing over the system through thrift, ingenuity and a little help from the loose change they found stuffed down the sofa.
It was the perfect fantasy pick-me-up, something to cling on to in a week when the Family and Childcare Trust’s annual survey into childcare showed that, even with the support of Family Tax Credits, more families than every are not only working for the man, they’re working for the nursery, and still ending up out of pocket.
It happens to us all – Thursday is my personal loss leader day. That’s the day when it costs me more to go to work than I earn. During the rest of the week I teach during the day, which means I don’t need to pay for childcare until 3.30. Even when childcare costs kick in, it’s worthwhile because my hourly rate is double what it costs for Katy to be looked after.
However, on Thursdays I work in the evening as a teaching assistant, which pays half as much as teaching and costs me double what I pay out for childcare. That’s because, without the aid of a Star Trek transporter room, I need four hours of childcare to enable me to do two hours of work.
I’m fortunate – I’ve got some security behind me – and I’m lucky enough to do the majority of my work during school hours, so I can afford to spend a couple of hours a week making a loss – let’s compare it to Lidl selling their Prosecco for a fiver – because I know that apart from being enjoyable and worthwhile in itself, assisting in a great class provides excellent free training for a newbie like me, and it will lead to more lucrative work later on.
Other people aren’t so lucky. Yesterday, I bumped into a friend who wants to stop slaving away in a cafe on the minimum wage to get a better-paid job in administration. The only way she can do it is by getting on to the rota for cover work. The only realistic way of doing that is to start as a volunteer. The only way she can get the time to do that is by cutting down her shifts at the cafe and taking a punt that her volunteering will eventually pay off. Now that is speculating to accumulate.
While she waits for paid work she’ll need all the loose change she can find. I just hope she’s got a big sofa and plenty of friends with shallow pockets.