Homeschooling has been, hands down, one of the most fulfilling experiences of my “life as mom.” It’s also been one of the hardest. But, I’m so glad that we chose this path.
Teaching my kids at home has not been without its costs, though. Right up front, you know that a homeschool mom has given up a lot of “free time.” Her home decor is characterized by wall-size maps and charts and unusual science projects. Her brain holds teacher-parent conferences every day of the week.
But, books and other school supplies also cost a pretty penny. A month or two ago, I was curious as to what we’d spent over time.
For numbers geeks, here’s how it’s broken down for us over the years. These are calendar year costs that include books, school supplies, curriculum, field trips, class fees, lessons, computers, and software.
It was too difficult to break it down into school years because we start and end at varying times, I buy ahead, etc. But since most of my shopping applies to the school year starting in the year below, I think it works.
- 2002 – 1 student – $376
- 2003 – 1 student – $514
- 2004 – 1 student – $870
- 2005 – 2 students – $485
- 2006 – 2 students – $560
- 2007 – 3 students – $860
- 2008 – 3 students – $560
- 2009 – 4 students – $1155.00
- 2010 – 4 students – $1200.00
The increase over the last two years can be attributed to being debt-free (yeah!) and, therefore, having more money to spend. It is also due to having a student in the middle school years, thereby working more disciplines (and more books) into his course of study.
Here are the things that we do to keep our costs manageable:
Borrow as much as possible.
Thankfully, I have generous friends and a great library to loan me books, tapes, and movies. Not only does this save me money and storage space, but it also saves me from making unwise purchases — I can test the resource out before buying it. It also helps me make wise purchases — if I love something that I borrow, I know it’s safe to buy.
Buy what you can afford.
Our kids’ education is an investment. And while I don’t want to scrimp in this area, I also don’t want to go in debt. This has been difficult to discern over the years. Sometimes I’ve paid a stupid tax on school books that just didn’t fit the bill. But, with practice I’m learning which things we truly need.
Sell the stuff you don’t like or don’t use.
When applicable, I sell the curriculum that I don’t like or need anymore in order to acquire the new things that I want. Sometimes this backfires on me like when I sold some books that I now want and have to buy again. But, if it keeps us out of debt, then I think that’s a good thing.
Reuse books and resources with younger kids.
Since I have six kids, we reuse whatever we can. It also helps us rationalize a larger purchase. If we know we’re going to use something six times (or can resell it), we can risk the investment.
This is another way that we make homeschooling fit our family’s budget. Spread out over time, our financial costs are significantly lower than if we enrolled our kids in private school. And considering that we would still pay for school supplies, class fees, lessons, computers, software, and the PTO, even if they went to public school, I don’t think homeschooling is a financial burden. It’s a worthy expense for our family.
About this series – If you’re interested in getting started in homeschooling, this is a series recounting our experiences in teaching our children at home, the things that I’ve learned, and some resources I’ve discovered along the way. But this way isn’t the only way. Your mileage may vary. Coming up next time – A Home Schoolroom
How do YOU save money?
Share a money saving tip in the comments or in the linky. Please do not link up giveaway posts.