Thursday, August 13, 2009

Frugal Homeschooling

We are getting ready to begin our sixth year of homeschooling. Over the years, we've kept a pretty tight budget for our homeschooling supplies. And I've definitely learned a thing or two along the way to help us provide a quality education for our children while still keeping our finances in check. There are so many wonderful homeschooling resources and catalogs out there that it would definitely be easy to over spend.

  1. Look to the future. If you only have one child you are going to homeschool, you can definitely skip this step. But if you have younger children, consider buying books and materials that every one will be able to use at some point. The initial expense may be a bit more, but it will really pay off in the long run.
  2. Save everything. I have boxes and boxes of books and workbooks from Isabelle's previous years of school. Most we'll be able to use again with Alex, Olivia and Gracie. The rest will just serve as inspiration for me as I lesson plan or help my buying decisions. Some of the books we've saved are only somewhat used. That's because not everything we buy always works out. But just because it doesn't work well for one child doesn't mean it won't be a perfect fit for the next child. And for those programs that you know will just never work for your family...
  3. Sell what you're sure you won't use again. There are tons of options available for selling those materials - garage sales, online, homeschool fairs, or within your homeschooling group.
  4. Scour the thrift store shelves. Most thrift stores that have a book section will be like searching for hidden treasures. It may take a bit of time to dig through the selections, but it's usually very worthwhile. I don't think I've ever walked through a thrift store without walking out with at least one book we could use in our homeschool at some point.
  5. Learn to love the library. There's no denying it - the library is a homeschoolers best friend! In addition to books and materials you can check out, see if your library offers used book sales and if they have assigned dates when they give away old magazines. We probably have a whole bookshelf filled with books and magazines that we've gotten by taking advantage of these programs.
  6. Use scrap paper. Homeschoolers go through a ton of paper. Whenever possible, use scrap paper, including junk mail that has a blank side. If you, your spouse or even any friends or family members work in an office, ask them what they do with their paper. Nowadays many offices have piles of paper that they set aside to shred. Depending on office policies, most are more than happy to give away that paper instead.
  7. Split up expenses. If the investment for a whole year of schooling is too much at once, buy some materials at the beginning of the year and some halfway through.
  8. Go online. The plethora of homeschooling information and materials online is mind blowing! You could feasibly build an entire curriculum around free or low cost materials you find online.
Here are some great online resources for homeschoolers:

There are so many other fabulous resources online and so many blogs on rely on to help with our homeschooling. But I'd be here all night if I was going to list them all. I'll try to share more over the next few days.

What are your favorite ways to save money on schooling materials, whether homeschooling or not? And I'd love to know some of your favorite online homeschool resources.

Stop by Cents To Get Debt Free for more Finding Freedom Friday and Life As Mom for more Frugal Friday.


shopannies 8:51 AM  

not for sure if this would work for you or not but become aware of the teachers in your area we received tons of great games, etc.. from garage sales that teachers held as well as teachers retiring often own their own stuff and will get rid of what they no longer want

Jennifer 9:31 AM  

Great tips, also stock up on back to school sales going on right now, even though your kids aren't going back to school. Actually, stock up more than if you were sending your kids to school. I can never believe how quickly my kids go through that stuff.

Lora 11:35 AM  

Great post, Kate! I missed this the other day! I posted today on homeschooling resources and this was very helpful. Thanks!

Jennie 4:22 PM  

These are great tips we have done all of them including buying lots of things at yard sales. I also like to pick up games, science kits, crafts, and handicrafts (pottery & wood burning). You wouldn't believe how many times I have bought things that had never been used. It has add extras to our schooling without a great expense.

Andi 7:29 PM  

Here is a tip that not a lot of homeschoolers think about when it comes to homeschooling. I homeschooled my children for 7 years. From grades 1st - 8th. When it comes to consumables don't let your kids write in the workbooks have them write on a separate sheet of paper. That way they can be used for the younger children. Another one is for certain curriculums that are mainly based on reading get the catalog and just use the library. Don't purchase all the books, that is unless you want to. Sonlight's catalog is a great resource for that so is Beautiful Feet. Just some thoughts.

LaVonne 9:02 PM  

What great ideas to save while homeschooling. Thank you for posting this. I linked your post to my own Frugal Friday post. Stop by anytime.

The Prudent Homemaker 10:39 PM  

Here is my list of free homeschooling sources:

Another thing that I do is buy used books.

Anonymous,  7:44 PM  

I have friends with children older and younger than my own, we swap and trade stuff when we need it. I feel good knowing my investment is being used and I have a free resource and experienced advice with the materials I'm using.

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