Do I take my frugal hat off when I shut the front door behind me and leave for work in the morning? Hell, no! Aside from being part of the reason I'm thrifty in the first place (don't put part-time work in learning support at the top of your list if you're hoping to make a fortune), my frugal choices follow me to work. The frugal childcare system involving four different sets of neighbours, the lift-sharing, the very 'capsule' work wardrobe (with several charity shop gleans), and the packed lunches, all keep the costs down.
And professional development has also been a frugal affair of late. I've worked in the public sector in various capacities for most of the 20+ years of my working life. In the Nineties, an array of training courses to choose from was one of the perks of the job. In the Noughties there were still plenty of courses to choose from, but 'pay for it yourself' also became a recurring theme. Nowadays, having a job in the public sector is a perk in itself! I exaggerate of course; staff training is still very much supported in the school I work at, but there is a trend towards much more in-house training, often drawing on the expertise of staff or 'cascading' knowledge. So when a flyer advertising FREE day courses dropped out of the monthly magazine I receive from my union, it was too much of a temptation for the frugally minded Teaching Assistant. I couldn't resist this one:
It's been so long since I went on any training that my kids were fascinated by the concept:
Son: "Why don't you just read my Boy's Book of How to be the Best at Everything? Then you won't have to go all the way to Bristol."
With that, I scoured the Contents for the pages on "how to manage challenging behaviour in adolescents", but although the Boys Book is the book for you if you want to know how to mummify an ancient Egyptian, how to play pooh sticks or how to tie three essential knots, it is rather lacking in the behaviour management department! I await the publication of the Boy's Book of How to to be the Best at Behaviour Management with interest.
Daughter: "Are you going on the course so that you'll know what to do with me when I get angry?"
I don't know what she is planning for her adolescence, but to date her behaviour doesn't really warrant a whole day course!
Husband: "Does that mean I have to get back from work early?" (He always takes a keen interest in my attempts at self improvement).
At work, my colleagues took more of an interest than Husband. Training courses that include a fancy lunch have become such a rare treat that it was as if I was going on an exotic foreign holiday; they were impressed at the location (a Mercure Spa Hotel), and I had to promise to bring back souvenirs (rubbish biros and hotel notepads) and write postcards.
Yes, I know, I made up the 'postcards' bit, but if I had written them a postcard, it would have said:
"Dear Colleagues, I am happy to report that there is such a thing as a free lunch! ATL treated us to a top quality day; the lunch was delicious (and the training wasn't bad either). I think there's a real benefit to be gained by stepping back and reflecting on one's professional practice, away from school, and you know what? The networking with staff from other organisations was as invaluable as the training itself. I know that schools have been hit by 'austerity' measures as much as other parts of the public sector, but the compassion and commitment of support staff is awe-inspiring. See you on Monday, (with biros of course)!"
Have you got any frugal work or frugal professional development top tips?