Saving Money Homeschooling

This post contains affiliate links…that’s part of how we afford to homeschool!

 

Saving Money Homeschooling

 

I have a spinal cord injury and receive SSDI. In case you’re wondering, even counting  what Social Security pays my kids, this amounts to less than 40 percent of what I earned when I worked. My injury is a blessing because it allows us to homeschool, but it is not a financial blessing! Saving money homeschooling is critical if we are going to succeed.

My husband works full time, and adds as much overtime as possible, but altogether we earn just enough to live comfortably…until you consider homeschooling and two kids with orthodontia.

There’s not too much I can do about the orthodontia, other than an FSA and payment plan, but the homeschooling expenses I can work with. In fact, a significant portion of my time is spent finding the least expensive ways to provide my children the education they need. Here are some ways I find to save money on homeschooling:

  1. Free educational adventures. We live in a very rural area, so visits to farms are educational outings that cost little to nothing but provide entertainment and learning. My in laws own two horses, and both of my kids ride with them. My grandmother in law teaches oil painting and has taught the children how to paint. My husband’s uncle lives on a lake and teaches my kids to fish, gut, and process their catches.  Any one you know has something they can teach your kids, and most people will do it for free because it is fun. You also have skills you can teach your children. For instance, I’m a blogger…I teach them to write. My husband teaches them basic home maintenance and “shop class”.
  2. Shop around for materials. I do not purchase “boxed curriculum” for several reasons, not the least of which being the cost. (The second reason being it is unusual for a child to be on the same “level” in every subject.) Once I have determined what level my child is in a subject (using free placement tests that most curriculum providers have on their websites) and what materials I want to use, I compare prices on Currclick.com Amazon.com, Half.com, Abebooks.com, and Ebay. It is rare that I do not find the curriculum I want on at least one of these sources, and usually quite a bit cheaper than purchasing from the manufacturer.
  3. Watching for sales. Just yesterday, I received an email from one of my favorite lapbook creators offering all of their materials for only $.10! I bought what I can use right now, but also what I know I will need in the future. I have five more years of homeschooling with my son and seven with my daughter. There is plenty I will still need to teach them, and I buy what I will need when it is at a good price. (Planning ahead is key for using this method of buying materials. I use The Well Planned Day system from HEDUA.com so I can quickly see what I will be teaching next year or in two years, so I don’t miss a good sale and so I don’t buy materials we don’t end up using.)
  4. I watch for freebies. Many curriculum providers have freebies. Sometimes these are only partial curricula, but with supplemental materials these can be thorough. On Currclick.com, one of my favorite resources, there are pages and pages of freebies. You can sign up to receive newsletters from your favorite curriculum providers to give you a heads up when they are offering sales. I share sales and discounts on my blog (simplyhomeschoolliving.net) and on my facebook page (facebook.com/simplyhsliving). Most homeschool bloggers do the same.
  5. Sell your used curricula. If you’re like most homeschoolers I know, you have shelves or boxes (or both) of curricula your kids are done with. That’s money. You can sell used materials (not just books, but manipulatives, movies, DVDs, and CDs) on Amazon.com (they also take trade ins), Half.com, eBay, Abebooks.com, and Craigslist. Your local homeschool community may also have a curricula trade or sale board (mine just set one up on Facebook, and we also have a trade during the end of year co-op Knowledge Fair).
  6. Sell your time or skills. Everyone is good at something. I write, so I have a homeschool blog where I have affiliate links. Those links bring the reader to companies I like. When the reader buys something from that company, I get a tiny portion of the sale. It doesn’t add up to much, but every little bit helps. I also do nail art. Friends “hire” me for birthday parties or before big events to do their nails. Again, it is not a lot of money, but it is a little, and it is also fun. If you sew, knit, crochet, make jewelry, or do any kind of craft, you can set up a store on StoreEnvy or Etsy or Ebay and supplement your income that way. Some homeschooling families start businesses where each member of the family works, such as Great Products (they have the BEST homeschool tee shirts and toys ever!)
  7. Make what you need, or find it free. The internet abounds with free resources for homeschoolers. EasyPeasy All in One Homeschool provides an entire homeschool education for free. You can find word search or crossword generators, coloring pages to print, and literature reviews everywhere. An entire math education from addition to theoretical physics can be found on Khan Academy. A course in American Literature doesn’t need to come from a set textbook…just go to the library and check out the classics! After your child has read it, have him or her write a book report, put on a play, make a video, or just tell you about it.  Foreign language can be learned with free online resources like DuoLingo.com.
  8. Use your library and museums. Our library has resources for schools including huge Rubbermades full of materials on different topics (such as weather or “life in a log”). They also have free or cheap activities for all ages. We have several museums in the area that all offer educational activities, from the art museum that has free Drop In Wednesdays (each week focuses on a different work in the library and then the kids try to recreate the style) to the World Children’s Museum that offers activities based on different world cultures (right now is Chinese New Year).
  9. Find a co-op. Large, organized co-ops aren’t cheap…for this last year, we paid over $200 altogether for the children’s courses, not counting the cost of texts. However, it is much less expensive than my teaching those courses myself! I don’t have the materials or skill to teach anatomy, music, Crime Scene Investigation, etc… You have to balance how much it would cost you to buy everything you’d need to teach a course verses how much it costs to do it at co-op. And please factor in your desire (or lack thereof) to teach the course in question. I mean…I am not teaching blood splatters. Period. If there isn’t an organized co-op in your area or they don’t offer what you need, consider coordinating with some other families to exchange skills. I’m particularly good at math, so next year at co-op I am teaching Business Math. Another mother is the music ministry coordinator at her church, so she teaches music. I would be willing to guess that, within your group of friends, you will find a wide variety of skills and abilities.
  10. Just say no. If a course or subject is not necessary for your child to learn, and it is too expensive or difficult for you to manage for them, just say no. Many, many families stretch their wallets to the breaking point to fulfill every interest of their children. This is especially true with “extracurriculars” (which aren’t really so for homeschoolers, but I hope you get what I mean!) You just can’t do everything, and your child’s education will not suffer if they don’t study pottery, Ancient Roman architecture, or four different foreign languages. Or, find another way to do it – have them do an independent study instead of taking a course, or for older kids, have them earn the money for the lessons they want.

Homeschooling is not easy and it is not cheap. It is a lifestyle and more than a full time…but one you have to pay to do! Just like in every other area of life, however, there are ways to save money while still achieving a high quality result.

Kathy LaPan is a homeschooling mom of two in Northern NY. She has an MBA in finance and teaches through SchoolHouseTeachers.com. Check out her blog at Simply Homeschool Living.

Homeschool Convention Survival Tips

Hitting the Road: #Homeschool Convention Time via homeschoolsurvival.com

Whether you’re a newbie homeschool or a seasoned veteran, homeschool conventions provide a valuable source of encouragement, information, and fellowship.

Hitting the Road: Homeschool Convention Time!

The first time I walked into a convention center for a homeschool conference, I had already been homeschooling for nine years, but I was immediately OVERWHELMED!

After attending several conferences over the past few years, I’ve learned a thing or two, which make the experience less-stressful and more valuable.

So, if you’re headed to a convention this spring, here are some survival tips for you:

  • Look at the list of vendors and speakers for the convention you are attending on the conference website, and note which ones you want to be sure to visit.
  • Make a list of any specific products you want to check out. Go to sessions sponsored by those vendors to learn more about them.
  • Keep a running list of items you might want to purchase after seeing them. I didn’t purchase anything on our first walk-through. I used that first time to “window shop,” and then went back to buy things later. This prevents extra trips to the car or having to haul around a bunch of stuff, and it also gave me pause to think before making an impulse buy.
  • Speaking of those trips to the car — pack snacks and drinks, and take breaks! Food can be pricey at convention centers, and many will not let you bring anything in, so use your car as home-base. Especially if your kids attend with you!
  • Schedule time for an initial walk-through, and plan to go back at least once more to be sure you cover it all. Planning to go back helped me prevent impulse purchases because I knew I would have time to go stop back by the booths.
  • Many vendors offer coupons or codes to use later, so you don’t have to feel pressure to buy at the convention.
  • Be flexible and willing to change your product list. I was surprised to find that some products were not what I thought they would be and to discover new products I never would have considered before seeing them and hearing the speakers.
  • Use DISCERNMENT! Realize that a convention is a money-maker for the host, and some (many) of the vendors might not necessarily have the same worldview, parenting philosophy, etc. that you do. Do your research! Be aware that vendors and speakers are presenting their best face at the conference.
  • Enjoy yourself and have fun! My goal is not to “shop” as much as it is to “see.” Bringing home a few new things is just a bonus.

 

Anne CampbellAnne Campbell is the mother to three boys (in every sense of the word!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years. She is the Managing Editor of Blog at Home Educating Family Association, columnist for Home Educating Family Magazine, and member of the Home Educating Family review team. As a former classroom teacher, she loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other moms and homeschoolers. When they started on their homeschooling  journey, her oldest son was in kindergarten. They decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time, and now she has a high school student, middle school student, and elementary student, and all still at home. They fly by the seats of their pants most days, spending as much time as possible exploring nature, and seizing learning opportunities whenever they appear. You can visit her at her blog Learning Table. You can also find Anne on Bloglovin’FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram.