I know, I know. No one really likes to talk about money. Well, maybe the IRS, the bank, and accountants.
I like it when I have it. It's just not as much fun when you have to budget it. It almost feels like a naughty word you have to whisper. We're going to make a budget...shhh.
No no. Budgets are a fabulous tool, no matter your financial situation! But we're not going to go down that road right now. Just believe me when I say a homeschool budget is your friend.
Okay, so you're intelligent and you already knew that. *High Five*
Since we've established (in a weird way) that a homeschool budget is necessary (even if you're filthy rich), let's get on with it. No dilly dallying.
The First Questions To Ask Yourself
- How many children will I be homeschooling?
- How much money is at my disposal?
#1 should be fairly easy to answer. #2 is kind of an eye-roll inducing question.
Duh, Rochelle, isn't that why I'm here?
Let me break it down for ya (I feel a rap coming on).
Go through your finances and your current budget. What can be allocated for homeschooling? You will need some for upfront costs and then some along the way as the school year goes on.
Now is the time for the next step.
You could dig under the couch cushions -- that's never worked for me. I only find toys, pencils, cereal, and garbage.
A better idea is to look elsewhere.
You can look at your budget and see where you can cut back. Still meet your obligations, of course, but there is money being spent that's not as important as you once thought.
→ Remember, you put homeschool on your priority list. Is that more important than going out to eat once a week or that huge vacation you have planned? Yes, I think it is. Can you cancel your magazine subscriptions? Or switch to an educational one instead? You know what you spend your money on. You decide.
As you switch to or start homeschooling there may be things you no longer have to pay for that you once did. Back to school clothes shopping? Not really needed. Just buy your new clothes when your kids actually need them. Teacher gifts? Not needed. Well, I say you give yourself a gift on teacher appreciation day, after all, you're a kickin' teacher!
Are there items that you own that you could sell in a yard sale, on Craigslist, Facebook, varagesale.com, Amazon, or on Ebay? Do you have some awesome talent that you could make and sell some handmade items? Can you pick up a weekend shift or work at home a few hours a day?
Are you good at safe cracking and security systems? ;)
Needs vs. Wants
As you go through the items that you will be buying for homeschooling you're going to write it all down.
What is it with me and writing things down? I don't know, it's an obsession, I suppose.
Write. It. Down. And stop whining.
On your paper write this:
Leave some lines to fill in all the curriculum you're looking at.
Supplies & Resources Cost
Classes and Misc. Cost
Tomorrow we'll start looking at curriculum and the next few days will be talking about items that you may want and need for homeschooling.
As you go through it all you'll want to write down the curriculum that you like and the cost. You'll want to write down the supplies you need and want and the cost.
Then you need to go through with a red pen and a dose of brutal honesty and ask, "what do I really need? What do I just want?"
I look around at other homeschoolers and think, good night, I want their homeschool room! Or look at how many freaking manipulatives these people have! They have an arsenal of art and craft supplies that could outfit 20 families. Their kids each have their own desk, plus 500 books, 10 high-quality bookshelves, and educational posters plastered everywhere.
Remember when I said don't compare yourself to other homeschooling families? This is what I meant.
Do I need a homeschool room? No, I don't. I have a room we use for homeschooling, but it's a room that we use for pretty much everything else. Do I need 5 different kinds of counting manipulatives? No, those cubes will work just fine. I don't need bears, dinosaurs, beads, discs, and cubes.
The point is, there are items we'll NEED -- math books, spelling curriculum, and all those curriculum goodies. There are things we'll WANT.
Cover your needs first. Then add in your wants. Start with the most important wants when you do.
When looking at curriculum you will want to make sure it's curriculum you need/want and not something that looks cool, shiny, and new. Make sure it will serve its purpose. Reviews are your friends when it comes to whittling your list down to necessities. We'll go more into choosing a curriculum, I promise.
Use What You Have & Get Creative
You need a math manipulative? There are many out there for counting (bears, cubes, discs, etc). You know what? You can use dried beans. You can use toothpicks. You can use popsicle sticks, or the baby carrots you're going to eat as a snack after math time is over.
You need flashcards? Make your own dang flashcards.
If you haven't discovered Pinterest, or if you avoid it so you don't get sucked into the black vortex, now is the time to get in there. My Pinterest advice: go in there with something specific in mind and don't look anywhere else!
Look for ways to make your own school materials and resources.
You probably already own some books, right? What can they be used to teach? Make yourself a challenge to use what you have in your home and I bet you'll find some things you wouldn't have thought of otherwise that turn out to be amazing.
Free Kindle books baby!
Try It First
Do you have homeschool friends? Not yet, huh. Okay, have you joined a homeschool group? Get on it! Now, ask around and see what items they have that you are contemplating purchasing and ask if you can try it out or at least go over to their house and check it out.
Cheap & Free Resources
There are hundreds of places to go for cheap, free, and nearly-free resources. You just have to know where to look.
Well, here's where you look:
Free Homeschool Deals -- a homeschool mom that posts free and frugal homeschool curriculum and resources every day!
Homeschool Creations -- has a curriculum clean out once a year, free lap books, free unit studies, and other printables.
Money Saving Mom -- has lots of deals every week, but on Friday she posts a big list of homeschool freebies!
1+1+1=1 -- tons of free printables, lap books, unit studies, and more!
Homeschool Buyers Co-op -- has curriculum to purchase at bulk prices.
Currclick -- has free and frugal curriculum. My advice here is that some are hit and miss: read the reviews!
Curriculum Share -- you offer up something for free (but charge for actual shipping costs), then you can get something for free (plus shipping). You have to give to receive.
Homeschool Share -- free lap books and unit studies.
Homeschool Freebie of the Day -- Just like it sounds.
Confessions of a Homeschooler -- has great curriculum for free and also for cheap for pre-k to elementary aged students.
Bible Based Homeschooling -- freebies and links to other freebies.
Gricefully Homeschooling -- Freebie Friday once a month where bloggers link up to share their freebies. (No, I didn't misspell the blog name)
Homeschool Giveaways -- weekly giveaways of homeschool goodies!
Lapbook Lessons -- just like it says!
Homeschool Classifieds -- it's like craiglist, but for homeschoolers.
Educents -- a daily deal site with lots of goodies!
Notebooking Pages -- has freebies and samples. Also you can purchase notebooking pages at a low cost.
Yellow House Book Rental -- rent or purchase used your curriculum. The ones I have looked at haven't been much different in price than to purchase new, but hey, I might be looking at the wrong stuff!
Rainbow Resource -- nothing free here, just able to find TONS of curriculum at a lower price. I mean tons. Their free catalog is as big as a phone book.
Amazon -- I check out the curriculum here always before I buy it anywhere else. A lot of times you can find it used, at a great discount, or an alternative that's cheaper.
Ebay -- Again, go here before you buy it anywhere else.
Facebook -- There are homeschool resale groups everywhere. Check your local area for groups as well as groups that will ship. This is also a great place to find people that will let you try out the curriculum so you can decide if you'd like to purchase it.
Pinterest -- Tons of free printables and ideas here!
Are some of your kids close enough in age that they can use the same curriculum together?
Can you find a curriculum you love that does well at combining ages?
The best part of homeschooling -- passing on your curriculum down to the next child. Plus, you can always sell it once you're done with it and use your profit for the next purchase.
- Figure out how much money you have to spend up front and throughout the school year.
- Find ways to find more (if you need to find more).
- Use what you have.
- Buy your needs first, then your wants as you have funds.
- Borrow where you can.
- Try it out first!
- Use free and frugal options.
- Get creative!
I hope you have a good idea of where you are and where you need to get. Don't fret if you are really strapped for cash. I know you can homeschool on a very small budget.
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Feel confused and overwhelmed like Woody? Got any questions? Ask away my friends, ask away!
Next up -- Curriculum time!