Are you thinking about homeschooling, but wondering if it can be done on a tight budget? You’re not alone – and this post is for you! More than 2/3 of homeschool families do it on one income and you can too.
In our 20 years of marriage, we’ve always lived on one income. When one of us was in grad school, the other was working, and vice versa. With over a decade of homeschooling our five kids, we’ve been able to homeschool successfully on one tight budget. Here are my best tips.
Shop sales & know when they are
Whether it’s sales related to homeschool curriculum, clothes, household items, or groceries – know when these deals are each year or season so that you can plan ahead and be ready.
There are great homeschool curriculum sales in the spring and one of the publishers I buy from yearly has a big sale every February or March, so I plan for it and do my big purchase then. It saves me hundreds of dollars.
Are you an Amazon Prime member? If you know what you’re looking for, you can get deals that are better than Black Friday on Amazon Prime Day! It just happens to be TODAY! Check out the best buys for homeschool families.
Set appropriate gift expectations when your kids are young
If you set the bar high and your kids expect an all-out birthday celebration fit for a king, then you’ll be in trouble when you have to replicate that bash for all your kids every year.
In other words, set appropriate expectations if you think you’ll be homeschooling on a tight budget.
Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. They might spend hundreds of dollars on the big party and amazing stack of gifts, but that doesn’t mean you have to.
Buy used curriculum
Always check to see if you can buy your curriculum used. The obvious places are eBay and even Amazon. And there’s a new site that’s launching! Check it out at HomeschoolUsedBook.com
Sell used curriculum
Don’t keep your old curriculum unless you have a definite plan in place to use it again with another child. Get it off your shelf and get some money back.
I’ve recently decluttered a bunch of our old curriculum, or resources that friends had given me. I felt like I had to hold on to it just in case. Get that line out of your head – “just in case.” It is so freeing to empty some boxes or make space on the shelf while recouping money.
Use the library
I know, I know. This is not a novel idea. But how many times do you feel like you have to buy that literature pack for $50-100 dollars instead of simply borrowing from the library?
In previous years, I would have purchased the books for my kids just so I knew they were on the shelf. But instead, I saved $82.21 last year by planning ahead and using the library.
Homeschool multiple ages together
Homeschooling my four boys together for many years greatly reduced the amount of money we spent on curriculum. Science, history, art, music, Bible, nature studies, and foreign language could all be learned together. This meant I could buy one resource and use it for all of them. This especially works well if you ditch the workbooks for most subjects and instead use narration or hands-on approaches.
Regularly declutter and sell on eBay
Ask yourself this question: If we had to move tomorrow, would I move this?
That question implies a few others:
- Would I want to pack it?
- Would I want to spend the money to move it?
- Would I want to unpack it and use it in another house?
I have decluttered a ton of stuff from my house in the last 5 years by asking myself that simple question. And when the answer was an honest “no,” then I gave myself the freedom to get rid of it.
You can do this too! Don’t plan to declutter the whole house this week. But tackle one small area at a time – the kitchen spice drawer, underneath the bathroom sink, your excess clothing, the homeschool bookshelf, the toy room.
And most of us (our kids included!) have a wealth of excess products in our homes and rooms. If it’s worth some money, sell it on eBay to add a few hundred dollars a month or a year to the family budget. I do this regularly and it really does add up. You could easily pay for your homeschool curriculum purchases from a regular eBay decluttering side gig.
Start a side hustle
What can you do that other people will pay you for?
I know moms who love to clean, so they clean a few houses a week.
I know moms that open their homes for childcare, even though they homeschool. I personally couldn’t fathom this, but they do it! Maybe it would work for you too?
I teach piano lessons because I have that skill – and I only do it one day a week, but it’s a great hourly income for that one day.
Do you have amazing social media or tech skills? Consider becoming a Virtual Assistant.
Crafty moms can start an Etsy shop.
There are so many ways to bring in a few extra hundred (or thousand) dollars a month, even as a homeschool mom!
Here’s the thing. Sometimes we just need to cut the luxuries for a season. This doesn’t mean it will last forever, but can you brainstorm a list of 5-10 things you can live without to make the budget stretch further?
Maybe it’s Netflix, eating out, Starbucks coffee, excess trinkets from Target, or kids’ haircuts.
Instead, you can watch Amazon prime movies (because you’re a prime member, right?), plan ahead and eat at home, make coffee at home, skip the trinkets that you’ll have to declutter later, and cut the kids’ hair yourself!
Own one car
At two different seasons in our 20 plus years of marriage, we’ve gone down to one car. It really cuts the expenses and helps the budget through a lean time.
Yes, you’ve got to be flexible with your schedule and appointments, but if you’re homeschooling on a tight budget, it’s worth it.
Reusable or DIY items
I know this might sound crazy, but you can cheaply change over to reusable items or DIY alternatives. Check Pinterest for simple DIY instructions for these items:
- Feminine hygiene products & pads
- Homemade deodorant
- Homemade cleaning products
- Homemade toothpaste
- Baby wipes
- Cloth diapers
- DIY iced coffee
When the grandparents ask for gift ideas for birthdays or Christmas, why don’t you list educational gift ideas? They can be fun!
Maybe a season pass to the zoo? Or the microscope you need. How about the book series your kids want to read. Or consider music lessons, art supplies, or field trip tickets.
These are just a few of the ways you can successfully homeschool on a tight budget.
For more inspiration, download Homeschooling on One Income Strategy Guide from 4onemore.com. This FREE 7 page guide will give you more help with budgeting for homeschool and additional ideas for saving and making money.
Abby is a former public school teacher, now homeschooling her five children. She’s in the trenches just like you and knows it can be challenging to be home with your kids all day while you struggle to keep up with the housework and educate your kids (and maybe even work on the side!). She blogs over at www.4onemore.com and hosts the Homeschool with Moxie podcast.