Let’s face it, homeschooling is expensive. Even if you don’t purchase a lot of materials, there is still the fact that your family has to survive on one income because one parent stays home with the children all day. In today’s economic times, money is tight for almost everyone. Homeschooling moms and dads need to be creative in finding ways to save pennies while still offering their children a quality education. Fortunately, with a little bit of creativity, this is entirely possible. The topic of this weeks blog cruise is “frugal homeschooling”. These are some things I have learned about saving money while homeschooling.
1. Utilize your library
I love literature based programs and unit studies. The problem is, with all the books included, these curriculums can become quite expensive. I learned a long time ago that there was no way I could purchase everything. Does this mean that you have to forgo these curriculums altogether? Absolutely not! I have learned to look carefully at the program I am considering. Most of the websites for these companies (Sonlight, My Father’s World, Bright Ideas Press, Winter Promise etc.) list the books that are needed for each of these programs. I print the list for the program I want to use, and look up all of the books in my library database. I have been fortunate enough to find about 90% of the books for each program I have used. For the books that I cannot get at the library, I look them up on amazon. If they are not too expensive (typically $10 or less) I may order them. However, if I can’t afford to, I just skip them. When I get to that particular book in the program, I try to find another book on the same topic at my library and substitute it instead.
This allows me to only purchase the program guides and specific items the company provides that are necessary for the program. Believe me, this alone can reduce the bill significantly.
2. Think Ahead
When deciding to purchase a curriculum for my older son (now in 9th grade) I always ask myself if it is something I can reuse for his younger brother when he gets to that grade level. If it is, I may be willing to spend a little more now because I know that I will not have to repurchase that material as his brother grows up. This can be especially important for large families. While buying a hardbound textbook may originally cost more, that cost is worth it if you can pass it on to the next five children.
3. Sign up for free info and newsletters.
Many homeschooling companies provide free print and email newsletters that you can sign up for. While you may not like receiving extra messages in your inbox, or mailers, this service often alerts you to upcoming sales and specials for that company. For example, Alpha Omega regularly runs sales that it advertises to its email subscribers. If I am looking to purchase something from them, and I know a sale is coming, I will wait until then to buy it. Why pay full price when, in a month, you can get 10% off and free shipping?
4. Attend used book sales
Most local homeschooling groups and stores offer used book sales at least once a year. Usually this sales are open to any homeschoolers, not just members of that group. I attend about 3-4 used book sales in my area each year. I have found some real gems in the process. Also, if you have things to sell, you can also earn some money at these sales.
5. Connect with other homeschoolers
Even if you don’t belong to a group, if you know homeschoolers through your church of neighborhood, discuss the possibility of loaning material between you. If you have a 7th grade student and a 4th grade student, but you have 3rd grade materials at your house that are not being used, perhaps your friend could borrow them for the year. In the same way, if you know a homeschool mom that may have materials she is not currently using at a level you need, she may be willing to lend them to you. Of course, this would require trust that you will care for those materials and return them in good condition a the end of the year.
6. Become friends with the internet
The internet has a surprisingly large amount of resources available for free. Homeschool freebie of the day offers free downloads on a daily basis. I have gotten some wonderful stuff there! Clickschooling emails you one free resource for different subjects daily. Through them I have found multiple websites for history, math, reading, and science. In addition, if you have a facebook account, you can “like” the pages of many homeschool companies and publications. They will often post additional freebies for their facebook fans.
We all know that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to give your kids a quality education. Many homeschoolers started with just some curiosity and a library card. Just like with anything else, frugal homeschooling takes some research and planning, but it is something that is definitely worth the work!
To see what other members of the Crew had to say about frugal homeschooling, click here: