This is our third year homeschooling our three children so we don’t have it all figured out. However, we know firsthand how quickly the costs of homeschooling can rise. It’s definitely not a “free” option. But there are several ways we’ve found to help offset the costs and keep homeschooling affordable for our family of five. Here’s how to make homeschooling affordable even while on a tight budget!
Set Up a Sinking Fund
If you’ve been hanging around my blog or read my book, you know I’m a huge fan of sinking funds! And having a homeschool sinking fund helps us plan (and save) all year long for our homeschooling needs. This way, we don’t sink into debt or have to stress over how we’re going to pay for curriculum, field trips, projects, etc.
To set up your sinking fund, I recommend setting up a checking account with an online bank like CIT (they typically have no fees and are super easy to use). Then go over your household budget and determine how much you can set aside from your paychecks to this account. It’s okay if it’s only $5 – every little bit adds up! Determine a “threshold” amount – the minimum amount you’d like to have saved in that account. This could be $100, $500, or $1,000 – whatever you feel is best to accommodate your homeschool spending needs! Oh and don’t forget to sell off that used curriculum you no longer need! Add that money back into your Homeschool Sinking Fund!
Look for free or low-cost options.
Each homeschool style is different, but there are usually at least a few free or low-cost options that you can use. Below are just a few free or low-cost homeschool options you can look into:
- McGuffy Readers (these are available for free online! Just search, and you’ll find them. This is the one my youngest is currently working through).
- ABC Mouse (I’ve used this with my kids since they were in preschool! You can try it free for 30 days or sign up for only $45 for the year. Makes a great reward for chores done well!)
- Adventure Academy (my boys are now too old for ABC Mouse, so they use Adventure Academy. It’s a great way to help reinforce what they’re learning.)
- Education.com (they have a free option and a paid option)
- Free Curriculum – The Good and The Beautiful offers several of their award-winning curriculums for FREE! Head here for the details.
- Use the Library! (seriously! Use your local library. Check to see what events they have going on. Many libraries will have STEM-based activities for kids to do – for FREE)
Shop Your Home First
You don’t need to go crazy buying brand-new school supplies every year. Before you buy, go through your home. Gather the crayons, markers, folders, pencils, paper, notebooks, binders, scissors, paints, books, etc. Throw out anything fully used up but be willing to use the stuff not done yet. My boys used their Fundations journals (from back when they were in public school) during the first year of our homeschooling journey. Those journals only had a few pages written in them, and even though I don’t use the Fundations program in our homeschool, the pages were perfect for writing out spelling words and working on sentence formation.
Don’t be afraid to reuse and repurpose what you already have on hand at home.
Plan Your Field Trips Around Your Budget
Field trips don’t need to break the bank. And you don’t have to take a big field trip every month. I think that you should only plan on one or two big field trips for the school year. You can plan other outings like nature days that are kept more local to reduce costs. Plan to take your lunch when you go on your field trips so you aren’t starving by the time the trip is down. I’ve personally found that planning a picnic-style lunch instead of each of us packing our own lunchboxes works better. We tend to complain less, and the kids don’t start begging me for food before the field trip is over because they have no idea what I packed!
Keep it Simple
If there’s one thing I’ve realized since starting to homeschool our kids, it’s very easy to get “shiny object” syndrome. I’ll start second-guessing our curriculum or hear about another mom taking her kids on this field trip, and bam! I’ve gotta do it too! I end up buying things we don’t need and never use and spending way more money than I should. This is why having the Homeschool Sinking Fund is so important. It tells you exactly how much money you have to spend on homeschool-related things, which helps to keep you in check. Also, we must keep it simple. If your curriculum works for your kids (as in they’re learning and growing), then don’t feel tempted to change it. If you’ve already planned your field trips and your budget says you can’t swing that other trip – that’s okay. Keep it simple. It’ll save you money.
Alright! If you’re a veteran homeschooler, help us out! What would you add to this list to help us homeschool on a budget?
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