8 practical tips for homeschooling on a tight budget
Hey everyone! I’m in serious planning mode for the kids’ next school year. This time, planning is going to be a little tricky since I’m a single mom on a tight budget, but I’m glad to report that I’ve learned a few things in the last couple of years homeschooling (not to mention the years I was homeschooled myself!) that will help out when times get tough financially.

Here are the top eight tips I have for you (and myself, ahem) related to homeschooling on a tight budget:

1. Save over time.

Since you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you know what a budget is and that you have set one up. So I recommend, if you haven’t already done so, that you add a homeschooling fund to your budget.

The key is to know what you want to put toward your homeschool year and stay faithful in adding that amount regularly. I personally am putting $15/month into my fund. Yes, that’s low. I already have the core of the curriculum for next year (we’re going to finish Beyond Little Hearts) and will just need a new math book and a few other things to get us started.

2. Buy secondhand curriculum – or get it free!

We would all love to get curriculum on sale, right?  Where do you get the best deals? I plan on expanding on this later, but the simple answer is:

  • Facebook groups dedicated to buying and selling homeschool curriculum (Search groups for “used curriculum” or “homeschool for sale”)
  • Used curriculum sales
  • Used bookstores online (Amazon.com, alibri.com, etc)
  • Homeschoolclassifieds.com
And yes, there are ways to get curriculum free as well! Check out your local library, which may have curriculum guides, educational DVDs, computer software, learning kits for young ones, audio books, and books on your child’s curriculum list.Another way to get curriculum for free is to join a curriculum swap, either online or in person. These are harder to find, but it can be done! You can even organize one yourself. ;)*If you’ve avoided purchasing used online because you’re worried about quality or honesty, don’t be! Bad experiences are few and far between, and can be avoided with a little purchasing savvy. I bought 90% of my curriculum used online last year and got some great deals.

3. Research the best prices for field trips.

Last year I bought our year-long aquarium membership on a deal site and have deemed it worth watching those deal websites closely. Sign up for Groupon (<— affiliate link) and other similar local sites to stay on top of the best prices for museum, zoo, and aquarium memberships; dance, music, and horseback riding lessons; historic tours, and more!

If you have money left over from your homeschooling fund, this is what I would do to beef up your homeschool year.

4. Remember that spendy isn’t necessarily better.

It’s SO important to remember not to compare. I’ve fallen into the trap of purchasing curriculum that was raved about, believe me.

Imagine this.  You’re scanning a homeschool Facebook group, and someone mentions their wonderful, awesome curriculum.  In the comments are more raving reviews.  Instantly you’re insecure about what you’ve already ordered – or you begin to believe that you have to have this to add to and round out your year… so you order it, only to find that it is a terrible fit for your child!

I’m not admitting saying it happened to me, but it happens all the time.

Keep it simple. As long as you know what you want your kids to learn, you can stay on track without all of the “cool curriculum” (yes, I said that) out there.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to pretend I don’t WANT it all, but I know I don’t NEED it all to have an awesome year.

As I type this, I have more books than can be counted on two hands that we either didn’t finish because they didn’t work out, or didn’t even crack open because our plate was already full enough. Believe me. You won’t be sorry you kept things simple.

5. Sell your curriculum.

Some of the sites I mentioned in #2 allow you to sell your used curriculum as well as buy it! When you’re done with the curriculum from this school year, sell it and put that money in your homeschooling fund. Now you don’t have to feel bad about that book you bought that you will never use!  Don’t cry – just sell it!  ;)

Tip: An easy way to mail your stuff out after selling it is to stick the book (if it fits) into a flat rate envelope (you can get them free at usps.com), print and pay for the label online using Paypal (easy because its a flat rate every time), and stick it in your mailbox. See, you’re done!

6. Research frugal and free ways to teach different subjects.

The fact of the matter is, you don’t have to have expensive curriculum to teach your child what they need to know – especially in the early years.

Did you buy an expensive English curriculum and now need to find an affordable math curriculum? Take advantage of free resources like kahnacademy.org (free videos teaching math concepts) or buy a book of hands-on math lessons and games that would work for all your children like Family Math.

Pinterest really makes researching SO much easier. Take a look at what I found when researching homeschooling geometry there:

Evernote Camera Roll 20150612 232231
Those are boards full of resources for teaching geometry in your homeschool!

7. Free printables.

There are innumerable free educational printables around the web! If you find you need to supplement a subject, you can always find something online to help out – no need to buy a workbook. For instance, have you looked up printing and cursive handwriting worksheets lately? Who needs to buy a handwriting curriculum? :)

The only issue I can see with this is that you need to buy printer ink, and if you don’t have a printer that saves on ink you are pretty much doomed to buy new ink so often you’ll feel you may as well have bought a curriculum in the first place.

So how to avoid this? I recommend my printer, an HP Officejet. Its the first printer I’ve ever owned that doesn’t run out of ink all the time! In fact, I was shocked to find that the starter inks that came with it (NOT full cartridges) lasted two months – that’s with me printing like a maniac. I highly recommend this printer for homeschoolers – its worth investing in because it will save you money in the long run.

8. Teacher Discounts

They say it never hurts to ask.  This is so true!   I have been able to get  discounts on items used for school, discounts on museum and aquarium passes, and even a teacher’s library card allowing me to check out more books at once.  If you don’t ask, you’ll never know what’s available to you.  :)

Some places even have special rates for homeschoolers, so don’t be afraid to share that information.

Be prepared to show your credentials should they be requested:  I recommend that you print out a free teacher ID card and have it ready to show.

Click here for a list of places that offer teacher discounts.

Final note:

I hope this post is encouraging to you, and that you leave with confidence that you can do this on a tight budget!  We can do it – together!

Do you have anything to add to this list, mamas?
I would be so pleased if you shared your thoughts in the comments!

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2 Responses to 8 Ways to Rock Your Homeschool on a Tight Budget

  • We discovered that a lot of the public places around here have free afternoons, or pay as you can days. Without those we wouldn’t have visited the zoo, the nature center, natural history museum, art museum and so on. And my other good find is completely Thrift Books. I’ve got an affiliate for that one, and while it hasn’t made me any money yet, it definitely has saved me some – especially since we do not have access to a good library.

    • Thank you for sharing! Since we moved, I don’t have access to a good library anymore, either. :p So those book sale sites have been awesome. I’m going to look into Thrift Books, thank you!

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