Fact: homeschooling can get expensive if you’re not conscious of your spending. If you are a homeschool parent and money is tight, don’t fret. There are many ways to save on educational expenses without sacrificing quality. Check out the tips below for saving money while homeschooling.
Create a budget
And stick to it! I find that homeschooling on a budget is quite easy if you’re mindful of your consumption.
I suggest setting up a monthly budget that allows for some wiggle room. When you do make a purchase, make sure that it aligns with your homeschool mission, your teaching style, and your child’s learning style. It’s easy to get glamoured by pretty products or raving Instagram reviews. If it doesn’t fit into your budget, don’t buy it.
Budget planners and apps can provide valuable guidance when planning, or you can make a simple “wants and needs” list to help you limit impulse buys.
Planning is one of the best ways to save money when homeschooling. Budget your time and resources in advance, so you can be prepared for what’s coming up next.
You need to know which subjects your kids will study, as well as what books you’ll need. Budgeting also includes working out the cost of various resources, such as subscriptions to online curricula or paying for enrichment classes, or a tutor’s time with your child.
Use what you already have
Take inventory of your supplies, books, and curriculum. You probably have more than you think you do. If you have more than one child, you can reuse the curriculum.
At the end of the year, I always find that I have more than enough supplies for the following year. Sure, new pencils and art supplies may make your heart flutter, but if you already have them, then you don’t need new ones!
Sell your old curriculum & books
After you’ve taken inventory of your homeschool supplies, you’ve probably found some books and curriculum that you no longer use. Instead of donating the items, you can sell them online. Facebook groups or marketplace, eBay, Mercari, and more are great places to start. If you are selling books, you can ship them as media mail using PayPal’s website. Don’t forget to charge the buyer for shipping!
Search for used versions of the curriculum you’d like to buy. Check out homeschool resale groups on Facebook and don’t forget to look on eBay. I also like to visit my local thrift stores and used book stores to find books we can use.
If you need to set up a homeschool space, consider buying used furniture as well. Bookshelves, buffets, and china cabinets make excellent storage space to organize the clutter.
Purchase multi-level curriculum
Speaking of having more than one kid, finding a curriculum that can be used for multiple age levels will save you a lot of money and protect you from a headache. There’s nothing tougher than trying to teach different historical or scientific concepts to 4 different kids. Instead, purchase one curriculum, work on it together, and then differentiate the activities for each child. Differentiating is easiest done with Art, Music, Social Studies, and Science.
One of my favorite things to do is to combine subject matters, which is probably why I’m a big fan of unit studies. For example, when we studied about Ancient Egypt, we read The Kane Chronicles series (Language Arts), checked out reference books at the library to research the history and geography (Social Studies), learned about mummifying and how the pyramids were built (STEM), and recreated Ancient Egyptian art (Art).
Create your own curriculum
It may seem overwhelming at first, but creating your own curriculum really isn’t that hard. Break it down into units and plan from there. Utilize the books you already have and the library, digital downloads, and any free online resources you can find. You’ll probably discover the experience rewarding, and your kids will like what you create better than any workbook out there.
Visit the library
Libraries are a homeschooler’s best friend. If you have a well-stocked public library, there’s really no reason for you to buy new books. Utilize all of their reference books, videos, audiobooks, textbooks, and more. Our library has “Story of the World” on CD and we listened to that whenever we are in the minivan (#carschooling at its best!)
Pro tip: Don’t limit yourself to your neighborhood library. We have cards for libraries in neighboring towns that we visit often. Just keep separate bags by the front door with the corresponding library books to be returned, that way there isn’t a scramble to find the books before you head out the door.
Share with friends
If you don’t have any homeschooling friends, it’s time to join local Facebook groups to find a crew that meshes well with you and your kids. If social media isn’t your thing, then meeting new friends through your child’s homeschool enrichment classes will be the best bet. This is how we met one of our homeschooling BFFs.
However, if you’re an introvert like me, this process will take time and feel like you’re dating. But it’s worth it as once you’ve established some friendships, you’ll start swapping homeschool war stories and resources during park days.
Join a co-op
You and some of your new homeschool friends may want to start a co-op where you share teaching responsibilities, or, better yet, you may want to join an established one. Co-ops are great because they provide a built-in group of homeschooling parents to chat with and learn from. Plus, you can share costs on curriculum and school supplies.
Buy digital downloads
I recently supported other homeschoolers by purchasing their digital downloads, which are reasonably priced for the quality. It’s nice not to have to reinvent the wheel while creating our unit studies.
The bonus is that there are no shipping charges, while the negatives include having to print, cut, bind, or laminate the resources yourself. Hopefully, you’re like me and enjoy that process.
Find free online resources for homeschooling
There is a slew of free educational resources out there. Pretty much every homeschool blogger offers at least one freebie, if not several. The only catch is that you’ll have to give them your email address which will be added to their email list. But don’t freak out! Those emails are often chock full of useful homeschool resources, links, and discounts.
Now, this is when I gratuitously plug my own freebie 👇
Other free resources I like include:
- Khan Academy
- Big History Project
- Chrome Music Lab
- Bedtime Math
- 826 Digital (creative writing)
- Virtual field trips (available on most museum websites)
- Smithsonian Learning Lab (check your local museum’s website to see if they have something similar available)
- Scholastic Learn at Home (PK-5)
- Storyline (famous actors reading children’s books!)
It’s free and full of learning opportunities. Go on a scavenger hunt, identify local flora and fauna, break out the binoculars, go birding, learn about your town, explore historical sites, or use sticks and rocks to teach math lessons. I’m serious!
Check out 10 Ways to Get Your Kids Outside for more ideas.
Look for free homeschool days
Many museums and botanical gardens have free admission days for homeschoolers as well as the general public. These special days are a wonderful way to save money on field trips; however, you’ll need to research when the days are and schedule them into your homeschool year.
If you’re not a fan of scheduling field trips far in advance, consider purchasing a family membership to one of your favorite places. It may cost a lot of money upfront, but if you visit at least once a month, you’ll more than get your money’s worth.
Ask for an educator or homeschool discount
Always ask to see if a business offers a teacher’s discount. You’ll need to show an identification card to do so, which you can easily make online along with your child’s school I.D. Another option to obtain an I.D. card is to see if one of those local homeschool groups you’re in has set up a picture day with a professional photographer. Usually, they occur at the beginning of the year and include purchasing an identification card. If you haven’t done so yet, start thinking of a unique name for your homeschool to add to the card!
Wait for the sales
If there is something you want and can’t find it used, then wait for those sales! Delaying your gratification may take some effort, but it’s so worth it.
I usually buy the following year’s curriculum and resources at the end of the previous year when there are many sales. Think Memorial Day weekend! Also, look online for coupons and promotion codes. There really is no point in paying full price for retail items.
Avoid social media
You can find a lot of great homeschooling ideas on social media, but at the same time, it can cause you to impulse buy products you may not really need. If you aren’t willing to delete your Instagram or TikTok accounts, maybe consider putting time limits on your apps to help minimize the distraction.
I know it can be difficult at times, but try your best not to be glamoured by all the enticing homeschool products out there. Stick to your budget and plan, review your “needs & wants” list, and stay true to yourself and your child.
It’s hard enough being a homeschool parent without worrying about money. I hope these tips will help you save while providing your children with the education they deserve.
What are some of your favorite ways to save on homeschooling expenses? Let me know in the comments!
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w4, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.