One thing you learn quickly when you sign up to homeschool your children is that there are many costs involved. Yes there are those amazing folks out there who will say they homeschool with virtually no cost out of their pockets. It is possible (or so I've heard). However for many families out there, the reality is there are alot of expenses that come along with the decision to homeschool: curriculum, school supplies, field trips, co-op fees, music/art lessons, and purchasing office supplies (laminator, printer, ink, bookshelves, etc).
For this next school year I have been determined to make my money stretch as far as possible. And wanted to share a few tips with you that I have learned along the way!
1) Buy used when possible - from craigslist we purchased a gently used Pottery Barn Wall Storage Unit, table, 4 chairs, and a chalkboard for 1/2 the price of what it would cost brand new. I have also been purchasing majority of my curriculum for next school year off of a used curriculum website called Homeschool Classifieds. There are many other wonderful used curriculum websites out there as well! Check around for any used curriculum sales going on in your area too!
2) Borrow nonconsumable resources- I am so thankful for friends, whose kids are a year or two ahead of mine, who have allowed me to borrow things when they are not needing them. It never hurts to ask!
3) Do not be a compulsive buyer. There are SO many tempting curriculum/resources out there both online and at homeschool curriculum exhibits. Give yourself plenty of time to plan and prepare for the next school year and ask yourself "Do I absolutely need this for my child?" or "Are we really going to use this art curriculum or is it most likely going to sit on the shelf?" For a younger child, start with the essentials (reading, writing, & math) and then add extra's only if you know you will make the time for it!
4) Set a budget! I worked on a budget for this next school year and it definately helps to know what amount you have to work with! If you are constantly buying little things here and there and not paying attention to the cost....it can add up quickly.
5) Don't fill your schedule with a million activities - I have had moments where I feel like I should have my child signed up for various activities (aka - soccer, piano, gymnastics, ballet, etc...). All those things also can add up very quickly especially when you have a handful of kids. Not to mention you feel like you are going insane with all the hustle and bustle. My philosophy in my home is "keep it simple because they are still so little". I have chosen not to commit to things that take up our evenings/weekends or anything that require more than once a week of their time. Our one exception is Awanas which takes place 1x week in the evenings.
6) Invest in a Laminator - if you want to protect pages and be able to use things over and over with all your kids!
7) Take full advantage of the library! Free is a very good price!
8) Out with the old and in with the new - sell anything that is just sitting and you have no plans to use. Take the money you make and turn around and purchase things you are going to use!
10) Check to see if a curriculum company offers a payment plan option. That way you are still getting what you want and making small, affordable, monthly payments (Sonlight & Winter Promise are two companies I know of who offer payment plans).