Sooner normally than later most homeschool dads get around to asking is homeschooling expensive when you begin to homeschool.
Even the most seasoned homeschooler has to step back and get real about homeschooling when it comes to spending money.
How to homeschool well on a budget is not only an art but is in the reach of the most inexperienced budding budget shopper.
Though I would not encourage anybody to start homeschooling because it is cheaper, it certainly is a perk.
It doesn’t seem easy at first to be budget conscious because there are so many things that you need.
For example, after I spent a few months printing off tons of unit studies for free and failing at my first attempt in unit studies, I swung the other way and went overboard as I spent about $300.00 to $600.00 per child and that is in pre k, k and first grade. (ouch)
Learn from my mistake as I share where your hard earned dollars will be well spent and glean some tips as I share when your budget just does not exist because there is very little to budget.
Just remember, homeschooling costs something whether you pay by your time researching for free resources or whether you pay by with your dollars.
Some years I had more time than money and other years I had more money in my budget.
Key to homeschooling well on a budget is to determine first the true cost of a curriculum.
Homeschooling Costs – Compare Apples to Apples
Many times I hear homeschoolers shriek in terror when a curriculum may cost more than they may think it should.For example, a history program may cost $30.00.
However, the terms and conditions may allow the history program to be used for multiple children.
If you have 3 children like me, that is a well spent $10.00 per child per year.
If you have more children divide the number of your children by the cost of the curriculum to find the true cost per child per year.
Too, if a curriculum is to be used for multiple years even with one child, then dividing the cost by the number of years you will be using the curriculum is the true cost of the curriculum.
Begin budgeting well by accurately jotting down the price. It is hard to price shop when comparing two unlike curriculum or when you do not start with accurate pricing.
Another tip in making your dollars stretch is to understand that not all curriculum has the same priority level.
Start by spending money in your budget on the 3 R’s and working your way from there to subjects like history, geography, art, science, crafts and foreign languages.
The 3R’s are foundational and it’s important to take your time in finding curriculum in reading, writing and arithmetic that is a good fit for your child.
Spend your dollars on those vital subjects first. The highest priority is finding a curriculum for the subject that your child struggles with the most.
Most other subjects like history, science, geography, foreign language,art and etc. can be covered with a little creativity by you and using free online resources, the library and swapping resources with others in a homeschool group.
Thrifty Tips & Places to Find Homeschool Curriculum on a Budget
When I left public school, the principal told me about textbooks they throw away each year that have been discontinued.
I took the textbooks, flipped through them and tore out pages that related to the unit studies I planned and added those pages to my unit study binders.
Free Clip Art Without Printing a Thing
To find things for the kids to cut out and to decorate lapbooks or notebooks with make a stop by your local wall paper store.
My friend Cynthia put me on those wall paper sample books years ago and it’s such a thrifty find.
Wall paper stores will be throwing out samples of discontinued wall paper books and some of them have the best photos of history, science, landscape scenes and all other kinds of pictures to use for free clip art.
When you run short on dollars for printing color clip art, wall paper sample books are a genius find.
They are also a thrifty find when needing to keep young ones occupied as they spend hours flipping through the books and honing their fine motor skills.
Attend Homeschool Conventions for Free
Don’t fret if you don’t have the money to go to a local homeschool convention.
Most conventions, will in exchange for you working at the convention, give you free entrance into the convention.
Too, this applies to your teens. It is a great way to get into a homeschool convention without paying for anything other than your time and a few cents for gas if you live close by.
Attend Museums for Free
Museums and libraries both look for volunteers.
Attending a museum for free in exchange for volunteer hours is a creative way to attend a field trip for free. Some museums even have volunteer programs for teens.
In my area back home in Texas, our local library would get rid of books by doing dollar day bags. I made sure we showed up on those days to fill our library with some great buys in books
Other School Supplies
Did I tell you that when I worked in high school at a law office that I was real close to a coworker whose husband was an auctioneer? Judy, my coworker was fond of auctions, yard sales and thrift shops.
Every Friday, during lunch time she had a line up of some really neat places for us to visit and I did not realize the valuable tips I was learning then as she shared about how she purchased her items.
I attended my first auction in high school as Judy’s husband shared all the dos and don’ts of buying at an auction.
Their auctions were held outside on the grounds of the house that they were selling and I was able to learn how to bid. To this day, those thrifty tips remain with me and thrifty buying is still in my blood.
As I had my own children, those fond memories and useful tips came back to me. I purchased many school items at auctions and yard sales when I started to homeschool.
There are not many people looking for globes, educational board games for kids or small bags of various assortment of cool items that make great manipulatives. I purchased desks, whole set of readers, atlases and plenty of crafty materials for very few dollars.
It is easier than ever to budget well for homeschool because of the abundance of free online material made available by bloggers and other homeschoolers who are willing to share for free.
Take a look at the round up of free homeschool resources I have gathered below.
Free Homeschool Curriculum Guides
Ambleside OnlineAmbleside Online is a curriculum guide and booklist designed to follow the Charlotte Mason’s method of homeschooling. Grade K to 12.
Old Fashioned EducationGrades K-12. With links to older books.
Easy Peasy All In One HomeschoolNote: This is not an online free school but a free online resource with curriculum from preschool to high school. It is a great resource.
Ron Paul CurriculumFree for grades K-5.
Guest HollowFree resource for all subjects.
3 R’s Free Homeschool Guides
Free Math Resources For All AgesPreschool to College.
Homeschool Science Free Guides
Homeschool History Free Guides
America’s Heritage – An Adventure in Liberty. Three free levels to download; Elementary, Middle School and High School.
Bringing Up Learners. A treasure trove of free history in a laid out and organized way.
Foreign Language Free Guides
Homeschool Preschool Free Guides
Homeschool Middle School and High School Free Guides
MIT OpenCourseware Free online library of course materials used to teach MIT undergraduate and graduate courses.
Expensive and a superior education are not necessarily synonymous. Costly does not always mean better and in the same vein sometimes you need to let loose of dollars to get something of better quality.
How to homeschool well on a budget just means sticking to the amount of money or to the expenses that have been allowed in your budget.
Making up a budget is the easy part. Living within a budget is the hard part.
Nowadays, it is easier than ever to make a budget work when homeschooling.
Cutting out non-essentials, being creative and resourceful are key to homeschooling well on a budget.
What about you? What are some of your best tips for keeping homeschooling affordable?
Hugs and love ya,
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