If your bank balance looks like it's been on a diet recently, you are not alone. The UK is firmly in the grip of a cost of living crisis with food, fuel and energy prices all rising steeply. The majority of households are trying to cut back, with non-essentials obviously the first to go. As big and little luxuries bite the dust though, it can feel like we are actually living less and less. So, as the cost of living rises, is there a cost to not living?
All work and little reward can be difficult to deal with. Money worries cause us stress and missing out on treats can leave us feeling low. It’s not just adults that are affected either. Foster children particularly may have experience of homes with little to nothing. They may associate money worries with abuse, alcoholism or instability and be fearful. The first takeaway from this is to have an age-appropriate conversation with any children you care for about the current financial situation. The second is to keep living!
Treats, hobbies, self-care and trips out can all be great for mental and physical health, self-esteem, bonding and boredom-beating. For all ages. And they don’t even have to cost much. If you’re a busy, budgeting foster carer right now, we’ve found some brilliant ideas that will help you give children in your care positive times and experiences without breaking the bank. There’s even the chance of a treat for you too...
Firstly, take advantage of the many discounts offered to foster carers by the Max Card and the Blue Light Card. Both entitle you to money off from companies and attractions all over the UK, including many in the Bournemouth and Poole area like Go Ape, Cineworld, Starbucks and Dominos.
For older children the recent escape room trend can be a big pull, but pricey. If it’s not a special enough occasion for the real deal, let them get some friends together and download the Escape Team app. There are plenty of challenges that just need printouts, a pen and a phone. And maybe snacks.
If you’re after some free activities for younger children to try, head straight to your local library. As well as an almost endless supply of books, both BCP and Dorset libraries offer special sessions involving storytelling, Lego building and even coding.
For more free, why not take a trip to one of our amazing local beaches? Younger children can build sandcastles and try to bury you in the sand, while teenagers can hit up some very Insta-friendly views like the Bournemouth beach huts or Durdle Door – the most Instagrammable beach in the UK.
Country parks like Avon Heath or Moors Valley are also great for getting out in the fresh air. Offering trails, play areas and picnic tables for free, the only thing you’ll need to pay for is parking.
We know the cost of living crisis is real, but there is a cost to not living as well. If you have any top tips for fun experiences and memory-making on a budget, please let us know – we’d love to share them with our fostering community. If you want to talk about anything else foster-related, please contact us too, we like a good chat. Here’s to a summer of living.