Let’s face it, financially times are tough for just about everyone right now. There are months at my house that we struggle just to pay bills and get groceries, let alone have any extras. And I have blogged before about how every time I manage to save money for curriculum a disaster occurs and the money disappears. This year it was my husband’s illness and some emergency car repairs that ate it up. We all know that homeschooling is a big job, and while I admire those people who can just make up their own curriculum and stuff, I am not one of them. So, what do you do when it’s time to start school and there is no money in the bank to get materials? Well, this is some of what I did.
1. Reuse what you can from last year.
If you didn’t finish up last year’s stuff (which we didn’t), go ahead and use it to start your school year. My 7th grader is currently finishing up his 6th grade math, reading, science, and grammar while my 10th grader is finishing his history, Bible, and English from last year. I am hoping this will buy me some time to get the money I need to replace these subjects.
2. Network with homeschool friends.
I belong to two homeschool groups and I was able to get some curriculum through them this year. In one group, a friend of mine knew about the financial setbacks my family had faced. She has three kids, the oldest of whom is a senior this year. She offered to let me borrow some of her curriculum for this school year. I was able to get my oldest son Apologia biology and Chalkdust Geometry this way. The other homeschool group has a library where members can check out donated curriculum. I was able to get spelling and a couple of other things for my younger son this way. Since these items are on loan, I have to make sure we do not write in them or anything, but that is not a big deal. The fact is, borrowing curriculum in this way met some needs and saved quite a bit of money.
3. Search for used curriculum.
There are many websites where used curriculum is available. Homeschool classifieds is a good one. I also like the sale and swap boards at the Homeschool Reviews Forum. The Well Trained Mind forum also has a swap board you can check out. Another good idea is to check eBay. I searched for a few things there, and I still have my eye on a couple. Buying used curriculum can mean not getting all of the pieces, or perhaps having less than perfect books, but it’s better than having nothing. Many homeschoolers take good care of their books because they want to resell them later, so most of what you get is in good shape.
4. Focus on what’s necessary.
I LOVE curriculum! Seriously, I used to go to my state conference just so I could spend all day in the curriculum hall. There is SO much cool stuff I want to use with my kids! However, when facing a slim budget, you have to focus on what you really need. We cut down to the basics this year. While I love to include extras and electives, this year I just couldn’t. So it’s pretty much reading, writing, math, science, history, english (for my oldest) and bible. My oldest son has two electives because he needs them, but I found those subjects on eBay at a discount. While I would love to squeeze in some cool science kits I found for my younger son, they were more of an “extra” than a need. If I find some money later this year, I may pick one up, but if not, I know he is getting what he needs and that is what’s important.
I wish I had an unlimited budget for homeschool. There is just so much great stuff out there! Unfortunately, I don’t. So, while our year is not going the way I envisioned it in my head when I was planning last April, it is still moving forward. In a way, simplifying has made things a lot easier for me. There are still some things I need to get, but we are buying them piecemeal as we get extra funds. My kids are still learning and happy, and I know that God will provide a way for me to get the necessities to finish out the year!
Do you have a great tip or website to use for homeschooling on a budget? Let me know in the comments.