If you have ever looked into homeschooling, you know that it can have a huge price tag. The curriculum alone is a hefty price. Add to that all of the extra supplies needed, and your head starts to spin while your wallet starts weeping.
We live on one income. My husband is a youth pastor, and I am a SAHM with a small Etsy shop that I am trying to grow along with this blog. Basically, I’m not any help financially. So, how do we afford it? Obviously, these tips may not work for everyone. This is what has worked well for our family so far.
Let’s start with the curriculum. We are currently using Alpha & Omega curriculum- Horizons for Pre-K and LIFEPAC for 1st grade. We have always received a return on our taxes and never had to pay (yet) so we purchase this when that arrives. Plus, then I have it in advance and can make sure that I am fully prepared for the school year.
You can also buy used curriculum. Find out what curriculum that you really want to use, and look for groups on Facebook that you can join. I have bought all new because I have three girls that will go through it all. Obviously, you will need to buy new workbooks for your kids. The cost of teacher books adds up quickly, and being able to save on that will be a huge blessing.
Pinterest is a great source for free printables. Pre-K curriculum is totally unnecessary. In fact, I have friends who gave gone without curriculum for Kindergarten and used their own workbooks and free things they found online.(I thrive on organization, so having a game-plan already mapped out was a huge for me.) You can find a free printable for almost anything that you could possibly want or need. There are printables for every holiday and season. Sometimes you have to do a bit of digging, but it’s there.
Next up is the supplies. Construction paper, crayons, and pencils, OH MY! So. Many. Supplies. I always try to keep art supplies on hand because my girls LOVE art. I want to encourage that in them as long as they love it. I also scope out the dollar section at Target- especially mid- to end of- summer. (I know Target is under fire right now, so skip that if it makes you angry.) Michael’s also has really great bargain bins that you can check out. Instead of spending $15 on counting blocks from amazon, I was able to get foam counting blocks for $1. We also have counting bears, which my girls LOVE.
Save your supplies. My girls have the same crayon boxes that were bought for them over a year ago. No, the five hundred broken crayon pieces don’t need to be saved (though you can melt them into fun shaped crayons). Chloe’s crayon box finally broke (my fault..oops) so we bought a nicer one that will last for YEARS. A huge part of saving money is shopping responsibly. Yes, it may cost more up front to buy this fancy crayon box, but we won’t be replacing it every couple of years because the cheap plastic broke. Yes, the little wooden desk is super cute for your Kindergartener, but how long will it be until your child is way too tall to sit at that desk comfortably? Sustainability is key, in my opinion.
Buy a nice printer. Homeschooling the younger grades will require a lot of printing and photocopying. When I was in college, I invested in a really nice printer with a scanner. That bad boy is sitting next to me and has been worked to the bone this year. In the long run, I don’t have to pay someone else to make copies for me, which saves money. Again, that is an investment piece that costs more up front, but down the road will save. Obviously, if you can’t afford this up front, then take advantage of printing what you need when you need it at other places.
Having a laminator has also been amazing. We purchased the whole she-bang of Preschool curriculum. It came with card stock alphabet cards to hang on the walls, flash cards, shape pictures, etc. So many papers that last through elementary years. I don’t know if you are aware, but paper rips easily. Especially when kids touch it a lot. I laminated like crazy, and now our papers are safe from sticky fingers. We don’t have to replace those things, and when we look to sell curriculum down the road, we will be able to sell it for more than we would have otherwise.
Some stores that offer discounts for teachers will also offer discounts to homeschool families. JoAnn Fabrics is one of them. Look into these kinds of programs and take advantage of them. Also, hit up thrift stores to find desks, chairs, lamps, etc. that you may want or need for your space.
My final piece of advice is to simplify. We are in this era of Pinterest and Instagram. We can compare what we have and do to what SHE has and does. We are bombarded with images of perfect homeschool rooms that are perfectly clean and full of so many amazing homeschool things. This is something that I have had to overcome. We do not need a perfect space. We do not NEED an entire room dedicated to homeschooling. Yes, I would LOVE that, if I am being honest. But, it is not a necessity. Stop comparing what you have to images that are unattainable for most people. It will only rob you of the joy and experience that homeschooling can bring.
What are some of your homeschool budgeting tips? I’m still new, so I am open to advice.