I’m sure there are a few out there, but I’ve yet to meet a family who isn’t homeschooling on a budget. Knowing how much homeschooling costs up front means not being blindsided by unexpected costs that can put a damper on the whole homeschool year.
If you’ve been at this homeschooling thing for a little while, then you already know that the primary source of funds for your educational needs will come from you. Very few states offer funding for homeschooling or offer grants for homeschooling families. And, even if they did, most families wouldn’t be interested because taking that money could potentially lead to giving the government additional oversights into your home education choices.
Instead, families interested in affordable homeschooling need to get resourceful. They need to be aware of the tricks of the trade for everything from low cost homeschool curriculum to where to find the best homeschool prices on equipment and supplies.
Before the new school year kicks off, we’ve put together a list of HOMESCHOOL HACKS that you should be aware of to help you save money and stay within budget. Browse the list below, be sure to pin it to your Pinterest profile, and then share it with any homeschool family you know who could also benefit from saving a buck or two this school year!
Homeschool Budget Hacks for Curriculum
- Before purchasing any new curriculum, take it for a test drive. For online curriculum, be sure to explore lesson demos, and for hard copy curriculum, ask the company to send you pdf samples of lessons and materials.
- Even if your local homeschool group doesn’t have a curriculum lending library or dedicated swap event, experienced homeschooling families in your area can still be the best source for used curriculum. Start a Buy/Trade thread on your favorite homeschool community group network or simply post a list of what you are looking for. Chances are, someone in your group has used it and is ready to pass it along.
- One of the absolute best venues for buying new curriculum is at a state homeschool conference. Vendors are eager to have homeschoolers try their wares and often offer discounts and/or free trials during these events. Just be careful not to splurge on something that you haven’t researched carefully. Even deeply-discounted curriculum is a waste of money if you never end up using it.
- You use online coupon codes for clothing, household goods, and toys, so why not for homeschool curriculum? Before signing on the dotted line for your next curriculum do an internet search for the name of the curriculum + “coupon” to see what you turn up.
- It’s true that there is no “wrong question,” and especially so when it comes to curriculum buying. Don’t hesitate to ask if the curriculum company you are interested in offers multi-children, military, or bundled discounts.
- The right combination of affordability, flexibility, and ease of use in an online curriculum can save you money every year. Time4Learning’s homeschooling program provides the right mix of quality and affordability you need.
Homeschool Budget Hacks for Books
- Certainly, you are aware of your local library, but when it comes to books, don’t miss out on some potential extra “perks” of your library card. Many libraries offer digital subscriptions to audio-books and eBooks which you can download to your favorite mobile device. And before you give up on locating that “hard-to-find” title, check to see if it might be available via inter-library loan.
- Speaking of the library, make a point of finding out if yours does a yearly (or more often) book sale. These are an excellent way of scoring great books on a multitude of subjects for pennies on the dollar.
- A library sale isn’t the only place to get books on the cheap, though. Thrift stores, yard sales, and estate sales are a fun way to treasure hunt for titles that will enrich your homeschool library.
- When it comes to the classics, you won’t need to head farther than your computer or device to consume almost any classic lit. Just pick up a classic literature reading list and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find that almost any title is available for free online.
- Are you homeschooling a child with special needs? The National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped offers free talking books to people who are eligible. That includes students who are visually impaired, have physical difficulty holding books, or who have a diagnosed reading disability.
Homeschool Budget Hacks for Field Trips
- One of the key perks of schooling from home is being able to take frequent homeschool field trips that enhance what you are learning about. One thing you may not realize is that many of the popular kid-friendly destinations have started to offer “homeschool days” that include not only educational activities but discounted homeschool prices.
- If you belong to a homeschool support network, or have a large set of homeschooling friends in your area, you may be able to take advantage of reduced rates by scheduling field trips as a group.
- One of the chief expenses of visits to museums, galleries, and parks is the food. To save a bundle when day-tripping, pack up any food or drinks you’ll consume in a large cooler. Don’t forget to stick a few snacks in your backpack for when your student gets the “munchies” between meals, too.
- Sometimes you want to get out and get hands-on with your learning, but there is simply no money in your budget for it. To prepare for these times, make a list of all the free field trip options within driving distance. Also, don’t forget to note attractions that offer weekly, monthly, or yearly “free entry” days as well.
- Never underestimate the fun of a virtual field trip. To break up your routine, take a day to visit places you can get to with no money and just a mouse-click, such as the Plimouth Plantation, the world’s largest cave, or the length of the US/Mexico border.
Homeschool Budget Hacks for Extracurriculars
- When exploring homeschool curriculum options, pay attention to the fine print. Some companies offer extra education resources either as bonus material or at a discount just for being a member.
- Now that homeschooling is such a mainstream educational option, businesses and individuals that offer art, music, and drama are definitely paying attention. Many of these target homeschoolers with low-price classes, especially since homeschoolers can often sign up for times when traditional schoolers can’t.
- Does your local area have a large population of homeschoolers? Then don’t be surprised if they also have organized extracurriculars available too, such as athletics, band, chess, or fine arts.
- Be careful not to define “extracurricular” too narrowly. Community service is a type of non-academic activity that is not only completely free but can enhance a student’s transcript. It’s also an undertaking that whole families can often participate in together.
- If you haven’t heard of 4H clubs, it’s time to do some research. 4H is a global network of youth organizations with a goal of developing citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills of youth through experiential learning programs. 4H offers a wide range of extracurricular learning opportunities in subjects such as agriculture, photography, animal care, and handicrafts.