“Isn’t that expensive?” is typically the first question I get asked when I tell someone I homeschool 3 kids. This question usually follows a blank stare, which evolves into a funny look, and then a forced smile. But homeschooling doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, you can homeschool on ANY budget! It might just take a little more work.
Not only is the cost typically the first question, it’s also one of the most important things you need to consider when deciding whether or not to homeschool your own kids. I’m not going to lie and say that everyone can afford it. Not everyone can afford it but it is definitely doable for most families. You know what they say: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” No matter your financial situation, it will probably require an adjustment to your budget.
Honestly, buying the curriculum isn’t that expensive. I could easily get away with spending $200 each on my kids’ school books for the year.
It’s the other stuff that is more expensive.
You know: the art classes, dance costumes, guitar lessons (you can check out some good options on MusicOomph.com) and other things that you do to “socialize” your kids. While some people may argue that their kids would do these activities anyways, many homeschoolers count these as a part of their homeschool hours. Luckily, there are hundreds of ways to stretch your dollar and get the most bang for your buck. I’ve rounded up just a few ways you can homeschool on any budget!
12 Ways to Homeschool on ANY Budget
Use What You Have:
Chances are, you already own plenty of school supplies. Use up the rest of your half-used notebooks before buying new ones. Simply discard the pages from last year and utilize the unused half of your notebook. You can also tear out any unused pages and use them as loose leaf paper. There’s no point in buying new when you still have plenty of use left in what you already own.
I buy almost all of my curriculum “used.” Popular curriculums, like Mystery of History, Apologia and Teaching Textbooks can be found everywhere! I’ve purchased curriculum on Ebay, from local curriculum sales and on Facebook sites. There are tons of places to check before buying new. Browse Craigslist, Homeschool Classifieds, and even Amazon for used curriculums. You will be surprised how much homeschooling materials you will find at yard sales, too!
Utilize Other People’s Talents:
If your kiddos are itching to learn a new talent or skill, think about who you know personally that could help guide them in the right direction. Chances are you know an excellent baker, guitar player, artist or builder. Use these people as a part of your homeschool by asking if your child can “shadow” them for a day. My kiddos loved spending the day making jelly with my aunt last year and she was just as happy that the next generation was interested in learning a new skill. Don’t feel bad about asking for others’ help. The worst they can do is say no and they probably won’t! People love passing on information about something they’re passionate about, especially to kids.
Find Free Resources:
They’re out there. Everywhere. In fact, once you start looking, you’re going to get overwhelmed. There is this crazy little website called Pinterest that has made finding free online resources not just easy but fun, too!
You can also find several free resources in your area. I joined several local homeschool Facebook pages and they keep me updated on what is going on in our area. The resources are out there. You just have to find them. (And today is your lucky day! Check out the links below for 5 resources that will allow you to homeschool for FREE!)
Check out more ideas on how to homeschool for free:
If you wait until summer to start buying your curriculum, you’re going to find that everyone else has waited, too. Of course, this doesn’t matter if you’re buying new, but who does that? 😉 I start thinking about next year’s curriculum right after Christmas and keep a running list. Then I keep my eye out for deals. By starting early, you avoid trying to find the best deal while thousands of others are doing the same!
Some people like to keep their curriculum for future references. These are the people who have more storage space than me, apparently. By selling your used curriculum, you will likely be able to fund this year’s entire need! In fact, since I buy used and off-season, I have even sold some items for more than I paid! (I have literally MADE money by using Teaching Textbooks, y’all!) I’ve found that if I want to reference back to something, a quick Google search will provide the same information.
Create your own unit studies:
Unit studies are amazing for learning on the cheap. Of course, you can buy unit studies on almost any subject you wish, but you can also throw your own together painlessly. I like to include a theme-based activity, YouTube video, book, snack, craft and writing assignment. I can put a pretty darn good unit study together in less than an hour and I can pick and choose what materials we need, based on what I have on hand.
Keep an Eye on the Fridge:
You’re not going to believe this but my kids eat. A lot. If I would allow it, they would always be grazing on snacks, even while doing their school work. All that snacking leads to full bellies when dinner rolls around, which results in lots of wasted food. But that’s not the only way we blow money on food. I used to be able to swing through the drive-thru and grab myself lunch for under $10. Now that we’re homeschooling, a quick afternoon lunch results in spending $20-$30 to feed my whole crew! By eating lunch at home, we save over $100 a month!
Learn to Love Your Library:
I’ll be the first to admit, this was a hard one for me. I didn’t know how useful the library could be and I didn’t want to take the time to familiarize myself with it. Now that I have, I absolutely love it! Instead of filling up our bookshelves at home with our curriculum’s “recommended reads”, I get what I need (which is basically anything!) and then return them when I’m done. DUH! What a simple way to save some money and space. An added bonus: if you’re library doesn’t have something you want, they can more than likely get it for you.
Take Cheap (or FREE) Field Trips:
We love field trips! We learn so much from them and they are a great way to get out of the house after a long week. When we heard about a local hot air balloon festival, we spent the week studying hot air balloons. The kids were thrilled when we attended the free festival. There are so many learning opportunities happening in surrounding communities, so get out there and find some ways to have fun for free!
Everyone knows that school supplies can be purchased at just a fraction of the normal price right before public school starts up again. Beginning in July, start stocking up on basic school supplies. Whether you make a special shopping trip to stock up on all of your needs or if you choose to pick up a few items on each shopping trip, you’ll save a lot of money by purchasing these items now. If you’re anything like me, you generally buy more than you use so be sure to check out what you still have before buying more. Our family can never have enough crayons, markers, pens, notebooks, pencils, paper or paint but we don’t usually use all of the glue, folders or highlighters that I tend to buy. Be sure to think about how much of each item you typically use before heading to the store. It’s a good idea to keep a list with how much you need to buy so you don’t over-buy or make impulse purchases.
So many people I talk to cite gas as the biggest expense in homeschooling. Personally, it’s low on my list of costs, but that’s probably because I try to leave my house as little as possible. When I do leave, we run errands, do our grocery shopping and visit the library all in the same trip. Not only does staying home save gas, but it also saves me from changing out of my sweatpants more than necessary. 😉
There are hundreds of other ways that you can save money and squeeze more out of your homeschool budget. If you’re’ careful and accountable, you don’t have to spend a fortune to provide your kids with the best education. In fact, you can actually homeschool on ANY budget!
The costs of homeschooling may add up quickly but the rewards multiply even faster!