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Cut Your Homeschool Budget

Ways to Reduce Your Homeschool Expenses

Do you feel tempted to buy something every time a homeschooling catalog arrives in your mailbox? Do you go bonkers at homeschooling conventions and regret it when your credit card bill comes in? Are your closets stuffed to the gills with materials that you may never use? You are NOT alone! Many homeschooling parents overbuy, and many tend to be curriculum junkies and manipulative pack rats. Help is here! Below are answers to how to cut your homeschooling budget as discussed by participants on our message boards.

NM Stephanie: Have a vision for what your family is doing in your homeschool. Then, you don't buy anything that doesn't fit into that vision no matter how great everyone says it is. Use the library a lot and the internet.

Allie: First, throw away all catalogs as SOON as they come in. Don't even bother to look. Second, don't surf. At least, not used curriculum sites! Take a look at what you already have, organize it by grade and subject. You probably have everything you need already. Make a plan of what you want to accomplish this year, and check your library FIRST. There are some great books and sites for do-it-yourself curriculum, and lesson plans...check out the information pages for that. Last, remember that you could do NOTHING and your kids would know more than the public school kids. You could skip a whole year and they'd never miss it, and it wouldn't show.

Patricia: Use the library as much as possible. Do inter-library loans if your library doesn't have a great selection. The internet is a GREAT resource!! I don't know how much I have saved by finding info and all kinds of stuff online for free. I have also learned to look for curriculum that is non-consumable or can be used in a non-consumable way. Last thing I do is instead of doing a lot of workbooks and texts for language arts, I have them do narration, copy work, and dictation. I have my kids "make stuff" instead of consume stuff. One last thing to do is to make a "wish" list at the beginning of the year of stuff in the catalogs that you would like to try. Then I can keep my eyes peeled for it else where instead of running out and buying it all at once, or borrowing it from somebody.

Briva: I use the homeschooling support group's lending library. At the annual used curricula sale, I also hold myself to a $20 minimum per item. That turns me away from the high price items, that will only bring me serious regret if it later doesn't work for us. I've also bartered and traded.

Diane Smith: Don't buy textbook company manipulatives, flash cards, and things like that. There's no need to buy a plastic clock replica when you can use a real one that you already have. Don't spend money and time cutting out cardboard coins when you've got plenty at the bottom of your purse. Hot wheels, toy collections, rocks, shells, marbles, beads, etc. work just as well for counting and sorting as the unreasonably priced plastic cubes. Also, invest in 3x5 index cards rather than pre-printed flash cards - you can make flash cards and game cards for everything under the sun. Your child really doesn't care if it's homemade.

Sherry Bowlsby: Sort through what you already have, by grade level. Don't buy anything new until you NEED to. If you sort through and realize you aren't going to use some of the items, I encourage you to sell them and put the money towards any outstanding debt you may have.

Also see Sherry Bowlsby's suggestions for saving money all around the house in her article, Tips for Reducing Spending.

See other articles to support your homeschooing efforts.