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The cost of homeschooling is different for every family, but it is possible to homeschool on a budget. For me, homeschooling on a budget means spending money consciously. I want to find the best deals. Every homeschool budget is different, but there are ways to reduce the expense regardless of whether your budget is bare bones or virtually unlimited.
To make the most of my homeschool budget I try to focus on the curricula and educational experiences that are important to my family. My goal is to save as much money as possible without sacrificing educational quality.
The four main expenses in any homeschool budget are:
- Educational Supplies and Materials
- Field Trips
- Educational Activities
That gives us four distinct areas that we can try to reduce in our budgets.
Below are 21 tips to homeschool on a budget. Not every suggestion will work for every family, but taking advantage of as many of these tips as possible will reduce your homeschool expenses.
Tips to Homeschool on a Budget
Choose Curriculum on a Budget
Choose curriculum carefully
Choosing curriculum carefully will save you money in the long run. A curriculum is a complete waste of money if it doesn’t fit your child’s learning style or your teaching preferences. It gets expensive quick to purchase multiple curricula for the same subject. Spend a little time considering what curriculum will work best for your family.
Buy used curriculum
Online sites, such as HootBookRevival.com, are a great place to find used curricula in great condition. Even if you can not find an unmarked used student workbook, try to buy the teacher’s manual used. Teacher’s manuals are almost always in excellent condition.
Bonus tip – sell your used curriculum on Hoot Book Revival too!
Use all-in-one curriculum services
All-in-one curriculum services, such as SchoolhouseTeachers.com, can be a huge money-saver. Pay one low fee and gain family access to a wide variety of courses. SchoolhouseTeachers.com even has courses for every grade, preschool – high school!
Take advantage of free online resources
We are lucky to homeschool at a time when there are so many wonderful free online educational resources available. Khan Academy is completely free and offers more than just math. Easy Peasy is another free option for online homeschool curriculum.
Reuse curriculum for multiple children
Save curriculum to pass down to your younger children. It doesn’t always work out that they will study the same topics or learn the same way, but when they do, it definitely saves money
Combine grade levels
One of the perks of homeschooling is that you can teach different grade levels at one time. This past year my 5th grade son and 8th grade daughter studied science (marine biology) and history (history of chocolate and history of video games) together. Combining grade levels not only saves time, it saves money too.
A free Homeschool Buyers Co-op membership entitles you to a bunch of freebies, but more importantly, it gives you access to discounted new curricula. The specific curriculum deals change, but there is always an option for every subject.
Creating your own curriculum takes a bit of extra work, but the cost savings can be significant. For example, a popular marine biology curriculum sells for over $200. I created my own marine biology curriculum for $70. That is a huge savings for one subject!
Buy Educational Materials on a Budget
Buy school supplies in bulk
It is often cheaper to purchase school supplies in bulk. For example, on Amazon it is currently $11 to buy 30 glue sticks, but only $15 to buy 60 glue sticks. I know. Who uses 60 glue sticks? Buy in bulk and split the cost with friends.
Give educational toys as gifts
Educational toys such as art supplies, puzzles, games, microscopes, etc make fantastic gifts. This lets the item pull double duty – as a gift and something needed for school.
Share materials with friends
Sharing educational material with friends can be a great way to save money. Ask around your homeschool circle and see if anyone has what you need. Then repay the favor and lend out your materials too.
Borrow books, dvds, and audio books from the library
Your tax dollars are already funding the library, so you might as well use it as much as possible. Borrow books, DVDs, and audio books from your library instead of buying them. Some libraries even offer additional homeschool perks. Our library in WA offered 60 pages of free printing each week!
Use services you are already paying for
If you already pay for a service, such as Amazon Prime or Netflix, it makes financial sense to take advantage of all the benefits. Check into every service you currently pay for and see if there are any educational benefits that you are not utilizing. For Amazon Prime and Netflix this includes educational documentaries. For a service such as a YMCA membership it might be a P.E. class.
It gets expensive re-buying materials that have been misplaced. Stay organized and keep everything in its place so you can find it when you need it.
Create a DIY homeschool lesson plan binder
I am a big planner. I plan everything. Having a well organized planner makes me happy. I tried a few homeschool planners and found that nothing really met my needs, so I decided to create my own DIY homeschool binder. My planner is customized to my needs and is cheaper than most planners on the market.
Go on Budget-Friendly Homeschool Field Trips
Take field trips in the off season
Many field trip locations offer lower admission prices during the slow season. This saves money and lets you avoid the crowds. That is a win-win in my book.
Ask for homeschool discount
If you don’t see a homeschool discount advertised, ask. I saved over 50% at Mount Vernon and Jamestown just by asking if there was a homeschool discount available. Make sure to bring some form of proof, such as a homeschool organization card or a copy of your letter of intent (I keep a copy on my phone).
Find Low Cost Homeschool Activities
Join a co-op
Joining a co-op can potentially save you money, but it depends on the co-op fees. Our co-op charges less than $10 to be a member. This fee is well worth it to have access to a variety of academic and social activities. I spent $0 on geography last year because a sweet mama at co-op offered to teach a Survivor themed geography club. (Curious to see the rest of my homeschool costs last year? It is all online.)
Group discount for co-op classes and field trips
One benefit of co-ops is that you instantly have friends for field trips and classes. Even if a field trip location doesn’t offer a special homeschool rate, they likely have a group discount. Freelance teachers sometimes will offer a reduced rate per student if there are multiple people in the same session.
Join local email lists
Email subscribers are usually the first to know about special discounts, so join the email lists of all the local educational activities. Depending on your location this might include museums, chess studios, trampoline parks, rock climbing facilities, libraries, aquariums, etc. Inexpensive classes sell out fast, so you want to find out about them as early as possible.
Ask for memberships for holidays and birthdays
Experiences make great gifts! Many museums and camps offer memberships or gift cards. Magazine or kid-friendly subscription boxes (such as Harlow’s Harvest or Kiwi Crate) are also a wonderful way to enhance homeschool lessons.
How do you homeschool on a budget? Share your tips in the comments!
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