It’s easy to completely blow the budget on homeschooling. There are too many fun looking and pricey curriculum plans, exciting supplements, co-ops, field trips and supplies just waiting for you to spend money on them.
I am not immune. I have spent more money than I care to disclose on homeschool supplies, books and curriculum. In fact, in the interest of full disclosure, I will confess that I spent $400 this year on a history curriculum that my children are not even currently using and that I don’t know if we will use.
So, in a world, where we’re surrounded by pretty, shiny and fun looking options for buying, how do we keep our homeschool budgets in check? After all, many of our families, including mine, are single income, meaning we’re looking to pinch pennies where ever we can.
Here are a few tips that I’ve learned along the way that I’m going to share with you today.
1. Use the Library
I’m not a huge fan of the library. I will confess that it’s not my favorite place to spend a lot of time. However, homeschoolers tend to collect and read a lot of books, and it’s taken me some time to acknowledge that I don’t have the funds to put together too extensive of a private library. Depending on how much your children read, changing from buying books to borrowing them from the library can save you hundreds (or thousands) a year.
2. Pack Lunches on Field Trip Days
I don’t do this every time we have a field trip, but if we do something with a place for a picnic lunch, we often pack lunches. Otherwise, with four children, a field trip day can cost so much that going on field trips is cost prohibitive.
3. Read Curriculum Reviews
Although I write curriculum reviews, when I’m actually planning a major curriculum purchase of my own, I often go check out the reviews of a curriculum (and I always read more than one review before I purchase). I want to know what a week using a curriculum looks like, how user friendly the teachers manuals are and how much prep. work there is for this curriculum right off the bat. It lets me know whether or not the curriculum is going to suit our family style.
4. Don’t Feel Tied to a Particular Curriculum
If you have a truly tight budget, don’t marry yourself to a particular curriculum. I’ve often found that there is no perfect curriculum. I do have some preferences and some things that I’m careful to budget for. However, often many different curricula could accomplish the same goal. Keep the goals you have for your children in mind and you’ll find that any number of methods and curricula will suffice. There’s no need to get picky.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Spend Money
Sometimes it costs both time and money to put together something that you could have just purchased. For example, I wanted to be a fun unit study mom with my little kids, but I found it too taxing and tiring to put together unit studies myself. So, I started subscribing to Ivy Kids. It costs what I would consider an enormous amount of $40 a month for the supplies for both my younger children to use it, but it’s the play based learning I wanted and didn’t have the time or energy to put together myself. I still find myself tweaking and supplementing, but having the box as a base has made educating my preschoolers in the way I would prefer to easy-peasy.
So, those are some of the top ways that I’ve learned to head off the curriculum monster that makes me want to spend money. And of course, I still often fail and buy things (or print things) that sit unused on my shelves. Over time though, I am getting better. So, what do you guys do to help keep your curriculum budget in check?