The $30 Homeschool

by Krista Schmidt

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When we first made the decision to homeschool, I sat down with every homeschool curriculum catalog I could get my hands on. I circled everything I just knew we needed to get us started. $867 later, I threw my hands up and declared, "We can't afford to homeschool!"

So, how much does it cost? I guess it depends on who you ask. I have had people tell me you just can't homeschool for less that $2,000 per kid, per year. I have also had people tell me they homeschool their kids for free. How, you ask? Simple!

Homeschooling doesn't have to break the bank. With some creativity, we were able to homeschool our kids for about $30 per kid last year. Here are just a few of the many things that helped!

  • There are so many great things available on the Internet that it can almost seem overwhelming! Once I decide what we will be learning, I spend an evening searching the Internet for worksheets, teaching ideas, theme ideas and whatever else I can find.
  • You can find just about anything at a yard sale or thrift store! If you come across a math book that is three levels higher than what you currently need, grab it! You will need it some day, and chances are, you will never find it as cheaply again.
  • Always check out the bargain shelf at your local bookstore. I have found so many things for sometimes pennies on the dollar including a "kids nature book" we will be using for a year-long nature study for $1.50.
  • Don't be afraid to ask around! My mom had a great set of books called "The Life and Times of…" sitting on her shelf collecting dust. Now they are a great way for my kids to study the lives of some of history's greatest people.
  • For school supplies, you can't beat the "back-to-school" sales at your local "super-mart." We buy all of the notebook paper we will need for the year for 10 cents a pack.
  • Library card, library card, library card! If you live in an area where using the library is feasible, you can save thousands! (Just remember to get the books back on time so all of your savings don't go to over due book fines!)
  • If you do decide to make a purchase, ask around and see if anyone you know already owns it. Borrow it for the weekend if possible, but if not, even a few minutes at your weekly park day can give you a good idea if it is worth your money.
  • Many stores offer an educator's perks ranging anywhere from 10% to free services. Book stores, office supply stores and even some lumberyards offer this discount! I have only been turned down for an educator discount once, and after I explained to them that under my state's law I am an educator, they cheerfully handed me the application.
  • Almost every place I have been that charges admission, including zoos, museums, parks, living history museums, has at least one day a month where they offer free admission. Come up with a list of places you would like to visit and give them each a call. Ask if they offer a free admission day, when it is, and if it is the same day every week (or month). Make a calendar page noting any important information and hand it out to your homeschooling group. There is your field trip list for the next few months!

As you can see, there are many ways to save money when homeschooling. We have found that saving a few cents here and there when we can has added up to enough savings to allow us to really splurge when we want to!

Krista Schmidt and her husband currently homeschool their three "naughty little boys" in Michigan.

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