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A little resourcefulness goes a long way when homeschooling on a budget, and homeschool costs shouldn’t dissuade you from homeschooling. I’ll show you ways we are saving money this school year and share helpful ideas from other homeschool parents that you can implement too!
Should homeschooling costs dissuade you from home educating?
The cost to homeschool can vary depending on a child’s needs, the resources a family has available where they live, and whether the family can bring in the same amount of income while also homeschooling.
Some families do spend quite a lot on costly curriculum and extracurricular activities, while other families spend comparatively very little money.
The reality is that (in most circumstances) you don’t need a lot of money to successfully educate a child. There are ways to be frugal and resourceful no matter the situation you find yourself in. Don’t let the expenses deter you from homeschooling.
Many books and supplies can be reused for multiple children, and you can make copies of work pages instead of consuming the workbooks. There are also places to find free curriculum and books, or ways to teach certain subjects without a curriculum. So much classic literature is online for free.
“Once you’ve explored homeschooling styles a bit, you’ll probably set off looking for curriculum. Here are some places where you can score curriculum and materials for FREE! Many of these are digital resources and require no extra resources or use books you can check out from the library. Just remember that you’ll still need to pay for any printing.” -Yvie Field from Sparks Academy
We can also take into account that public school isn’t free after all. Consider how much your family would spend for public school after factoring in all the extra fees, clothing, electronics, and supplies you would have to cover annually for each child.
How We Are Homeschooling on a Budget This School Year
Here is a quick look into the ways we are saving money in our own homeschool:
1. Doing My Research
My strategy for homeschooling on a budget always starts with doing my research. Before I spend any money on books or curriculum, I read curriculum reviews, download PDF samples of curriculum, and watch lots of YouTube videos, believe it or not.
There are many homeschool moms on YouTube who have shared their experiences with different curricula and books and will even flip through the materials to show others what is included.
There are videos comparing more than one curriculum, which is really helpful if you are looking at different options within a certain methodology.
These videos help me so much when I can’t look though the books in person.
My hope is to steer clear of curriculum that won’t end up being a good fit. I want to find quality resources that we can buy once and later pass down to our younger children.
For my kindergartner this year, I was ready to spend $140 on a prepackaged curriculum (and then more for books and supplies to go with it). I then realized I could pull together my own resources to make a comparable learning experience for a fraction of that cost.
2. Finding Cheap Homeschool Books
Once I’ve made decisions about which books and curriculum we need, I look for them used.
Ebay is my favorite resource for cheap homeschool books. I’ll filter my book search results for “like new” or “very good” condition copies and find the best deal from there. I often find books for a quarter of their price new. I can even resell books when I’m done with them.
Our local homeschool convention has a used curriculum sale once a year as well, which is another great place to look.
Additionally, when family members ask for gift ideas for my children’s birthdays, sometimes we will ask for books or supplies that we can use for homeschooling.
3. Buying the Cheaper Option and Keeping Purchases Minimal
Though I’m often tempted to splurge on beautiful homeschool resources on Etsy, I will often forgo these for a more affordable option unless I can really justify the purchase.
If I’m looking for flashcards, for example, I’ll look at the dollar store or Target dollar bins or find a free printable option. The same holds true for other resources.
In fact, a quick internet search for a particular type of worksheet or resource will usually reveal more than one free or inexpensive printable option that we can download.
We try to keep our books and supplies minimal to save on money and space, while still making sure we aren’t skimping on important things.
4. Teaching Subjects to Multiple Ages at Once
My three girls are young, so many of our read-alouds and activities will be done together as a group this school year. This pattern will set a precedent in our homeschool.
Later, I will teach from a “spine” for subjects like art, Bible, history, and science. Each child will have readings and assignments appropriate for their level to coincide with the material. (I plan to use the Charlotte Mason-inspired curriculum, A Gentle Feast, to accomplish this.)
This strategy will be more affordable since we won’t be purchasing a separate curriculum for each child for every subject.
How Other Parents are Homeschooling on a Budget
These parents have been generous to share their tips for how they are homeschooling on a budget:
“Buying digital and printing myself cuts down a lot of the cost when homeschooling multiple children. Printing, especially if you get a good printer with cheap ink, can stretch your dollars immensely. For example, I bought a digital math curriculum, and by the time I’m done with homeschooling, I estimate that my cost will be ~$6 per year per kid, including printing costs! When consumable math programs can start around $80 per book, that’s a HUGE savings for me. I look for digital formats whenever possible, especially for my older children.” -Sarah Wall from Raising Royalty
“It’s easy to make your own unit studies for free. First, go to the library and find a non-fiction book on a subject your children are interested in. Look for something that is broken up into short topical sections (each section should be about as long as your children’s attention span). While you are there you might look for some fictional stories to go with it as well. Then, go to sites like Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, and YouTube to find at least one activity, experiment, project, resource, or video to go along with each section. For each lesson, read one section and follow up with one or two activities (which can include reading from the fictional books you got). If possible, add in some field trips related to the subject as well.” -Gale from Imaginative Homeschool
“Don’t be afraid to purchase used curriculum. The first few years I spent a small fortune on boxed curriculum. Ever since, I have been buying it used from eBay and saved so much. Kids in public school work with used books and ours can too. Besides, if a curriculum isn’t working for your family you can switch to another with far less regret than if you had invested more. One last note on saving on curriculum. Use your library card. Our library offers bundles on different subjects that have been extremely helpful to supplement curriculum. They also offer free books to the members of their book club.” -Gwen Little from Geez, Gwen!
“I find that homeschooling on a budget is quite easy if you’re mindful of your consumption. We are very relaxed homeschoolers and only use a dedicated math curriculum. Fortunately, we homeschool through a public charter school here in California. We are given a stipend to use for educational resources and curriculum. Through our school, I am able to order our math curriculum, online classes, digital downloads, audiobooks, and school supplies. This helps cut down on costs tremendously. We are minimalists in regards to curriculum, so I rarely spend all of our stipend. I also utilize both our personal library (all secondhand books from local used book shops and thrift stores) and the public library when creating unit studies. Recently I’ve been supporting other homeschoolers by purchasing their digital downloads which are very reasonably priced for the quality. It’s nice not to have to reinvent the wheel when creating our unit studies.” -Xuan Klevecka from The Homeschool Front
“Homeschool supplies and consumables such as notebook paper, construction paper and index cards can be found in new or gently used condition at thrift stores and garage sales. Churches with private schools often have a yearly sale with lots of supplies homeschoolers could use. Dry erase boards are a great alternative to using paper copies for review and extra practice. Practice pages can also be laminated or put in a sheet protector to reuse with dry erase markers. Making a central supply station in your homeschool area also helps round up supplies that end up in other areas of the home.” -Misty from Homeschool Toolbox
“Homeschooling Preschool and Kindergarten can easily be done without buying any homeschool curriculum at all. We used Free Printables for everything from early math to learning phonics for reading. One great resource for K. worksheets and printables is Education.com. They have tons of them there! For READING, we found all we needed at the library, including alphabet books to learn the A,B,C’s and audio books, so my daughter could follow along with the words. We loved their selection of early readers there, too. For HANDWRITING, we did simple craft projects to develop small muscles of the hand and then free printables for learning how to write from Education.com. For MATH, we even made our own free math manipulatives kit, which was easy to do, with small toys, beads, buttons, or shells to count. I have more on that here.” -Betsy Sproger from BJ’s Homeschool
If you have other ways your family is homeschooling on a budget, please share in the comments! You may also like the tips in my post 12 Smart Ways to Save Money on Groceries (Without Coupons!).