Easy Homeschool Budget Hacks
One of the most common questions prospective homeschoolers ask is “What does homeschooling cost?” The answer to this varies depending on who you ask, but if done right, an effective homeschool can be a lower-cost learning option for your family. Careful selection of materials using a curriculum checklist–along with a few homeschool budget hacks–can make homeschooling an affordable reality.
Hidden Savings in Homeschooling
Consider that when you homeschool, you can save money you may have otherwise spent on such things as school clothes or uniforms, lunch money, transportation (if free bussing is not available), and teacher supplies. School items like a backpack and lunch box are no longer necessary, and you can avoid the multitude of classroom costs that often creep up throughout the year for parties, field trips, teacher gifts, and other expenses. Does homeschool save money? You bet!
Homeschool money-saving opportunities are there for the taking. You just need to know where to look. In some states, for example, you may be entitled to a certain amount of funds to purchase curriculum and materials for your homeschool, or you may be eligible to apply for grants. Check your state homeschool laws to find out what your state offers, or if access to that funding comes with limitations. Whether or not you are completely responsible for your homeschool budget, your knowledge of homeschool hacks can save you lots of money.
Homeschooler Savings on Books & Supplies
Instructional materials like books, supplies, and art and STEM kits, may be the largest expense of your homeschool budget. Here are some homeschool money-saving ideas to help you meet your instructional needs:
- Share: Explore opportunities to share expenses and resources with other local homeschoolers through co-ops and other homeschool community organizations. Getting together to buy things in bulk with other homeschoolers can lead to money-saving possibilities.
- Swap: When possible, buy used instructional materials. Reach out to local homeschoolers, attend a curriculum swap event, or check social media for online homeschool curriculum swaps. You can also start a buy/trade thread with your favorite homeschool support group or simply post a list of what you need in a homeschool forum. Remember to also check library book sales, thrift stores, and estate/garage sales to purchase used books for pennies on the dollar.
- Bundle: When you can, look for materials that come in sets or bundles. Make sure the curriculum you buy contains the features you want—like core subjects, electives, lesson planning and reporting options.
- Shop: Search for online coupon codes or discounts for military, bundles, or multi-child families. Explore local and online vendor opportunities like tax-free days and special discounts for homeschoolers. Did you know that homeschoolers may qualify when stores offer “educator discounts”? You won’t know if you don’t ask!
- Find what’s free: What is better than free when you are homeschooling on a budget?! Have you explored Time4Learning’s Unit Study Supplements?
- Ask: If you are homeschooling a child with special needs, ask about services and materials that may be provided free through school districts or other organizations. For example, the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled provides free braille and talking books for students who are eligible.
- Remember, too, not to get carried away with your vision of how to set up your homeschool learning space. Sometimes plastic crates and bins can be just as effective as expensive furniture when it comes to the function of your homeschool. Plastic may even be sturdier and more fun!
Field Trip Savings for Homeschoolers
Field trips are a great way to foster fun learning, but they can also be pricey. Below are some tips for how to embed field trips without the high price tag:
- Seek good ideas: Reach out to homeschool support groups for ideas and check homeschool field trip guides like Time4Learning’s field trip pages. Those who have discovered great field trips that are inexpensive or free are likely to share those ideas.
- Travel in off-peak times: As homeschoolers, you are uniquely positioned to reap the benefits of cheaper travel during non-peak times. Other families may be tethered to a school year calendar, but you can avoid the higher fares and costlier entrance fees (as well as the longer lines and anxiety!) of traveling during peak seasons.
- Try virtual: You may not have the funds to go on all the field trips you would like to, but you don’t have to miss those adventures completely. As a result of the pandemic, many destinations began to offer virtual field trips, which will decrease those travel expenses to zero.
- Explore free resources: Field trip destinations, like national parks and museums, often offer free materials on their websites to help students prepare before visiting. Look for free educational resources on their websites, so you can learn even without being there in person.
- Find homeschool discounts: Many museums and other organizations offer discounts for homeschoolers who can attend during off-peak hours. Some even schedule “Homeschool Days.” You may also be eligible for group discounts if you have a large number of homeschoolers attending together.
Budget-Friendly Extracurricular Resources
Another area where you can find homeschool savings is in your child’s extracurricular activities like art classes, music lessons, sports, or other hobbies like chess, robotics, or dance, which can be costly. Keeping just a few of these tips in mind may save you some cash:
- Schedule during the day: Since your child is available when other children may not be, see if you can save time and gas money by avoiding “rush hour” travel for frequent activities like lessons and practices.
- Leverage the community: Remember that there are many free or low-cost opportunities for your child to become involved in the community through volunteering or organizations like 4H (offering programs in science, civic engagement, and healthy living).
- Visit the library: In addition to being an obvious place for free use of books, audiobooks, music, and videos, libraries also offer free or reduced-cost programming like computer lessons, crafting workshops, and story hours.
- Find homeschool programming: Museums, YMCAs, and other organizations that offer art, athletics, music, and drama, may have specific and discounted programming for homeschoolers.
- Attend college events: Local colleges may offer inexpensive special events for children like sports and theater camps, guest lectures, and open pool/gym days.
How Time4Learning Helps Keep Costs Low
Homeschooling online with Time4Learning can provide additional homeschool money-saving opportunities. Its low-cost, no commitment structure allows you the flexibility to try the curriculum and cancel anytime, while its high quality ensures that you will get the most out of your homeschooling dollars. For one low monthly fee, you receive all you need for a core curriculum, in addition to lesson planning, reporting, and grading tools that are easy to use. In most cases, you have the ability to access one grade level above and one below, and you can revisit instruction and retake quizzes and tests as many times as you like.
Time4Learning students in elementary school receive access to Time4MathFacts free of charge, while middle and high school students can choose from a list of electives, and all Time4Learning students have the option to add Time4Languages for foreign language learning for an additional fee. Finally, larger families save even more with discounted membership for each additional child in PreK-8.
Knowing how to homeschool on a budget is important and doable, especially if you create a reasonable homeschooling plan and stick to it. Using a few homeschool budget hacks can expand the purchasing power of homeschooling funds and increase the learning opportunities for your child.