Homeschooling is tricky for many of us, financially. Most often we are operating on one income while paying all homeschooling costs out-of-pocket. Here are some ways I’ve found that may help trim a homeschooler’s budget:
1. You don’t have to purchase curriculum. I have found over the years that they are simply not necessary for us. Instead, my sons create their own goals for the year, with a little practical guidance from me, and from there we use a vast array of free online tools, homemade worksheets and books from the library. Twice a year I refer to the Maine Department of Education Standards and if I see something we haven’t covered, I bring it up. I use to worry about not using curriculum (even though it felt right), but my daughter entered 3rd grade at the public school this year and after homeschooling without a curriculum she is reading on a 5th grade level and ahead in writing and math as well.
2. You don’t have to buy workbooks. Sure, workbooks can certainly be handy and many homeschoolers (including me) use them, but I challenge you to find one workbook page that hasn’t been reasonably replicated on a free online site. I often make my own worksheets or occasionally print them online. Using dry erase boards, working online at Khan’s Academy, writing in journals and taking personalized math quizzes are all methods we use regularly, at little or no cost.
3. If you buy a curriculum – buy it used! For some families having a structured, quality curriculum works well and buying used can save a bundle. In Maine there is a huge, used homeschool-curriculum sale every year in early spring in Augusta. Many other communities hold their own sales as well. In addition to having bargain curriculum prices, I’ve found these types of sales carry a huge selection of reader books, cool learning games, and a large selection of literature and science books.
4. Ditch the Dryer. I have no dryer and we are a family of five. I hang all the clothes on racks in our sunporch during the good weather, and upstairs in the warm loft all winter. It not only saves you on your monthly light bill (for us it saves about $40.00), but it also extends the life of your clothing, reduces static electricity and adds moisture to the dry winter air in your home.
5. Grow a garden. Our food costs more than double our mortgage payment. Therefore, we have lots of incentive to increase our gardening efforts. But gardening is good for so many reasons; it’s good exercise, it makes for good science lessons for the kids, it increases your awareness of nutrition and food supply, and maybe most importantly, food straight from the garden tastes better than anything. Our favorites to eat fresh are peas, cucumbers, pole beans, carrots and greens. For winter use we have squashes, dried beans for making soups or baked beans, and frozen tomato/basil/zucchini puree. Seeds are cheap. The time you spend is fruitful and the more food you grow the more money will be shaved off your grocery bill.