Home education can usually be as cheap or as expensive as you wish for it to be. Obviously, the more money you have available for this endeavour the easier it may be. The wider the choice you will have, and the more opportunities you may be able to present for your children. However, for many people money is a concern and they will need to budget for homeschooling.
How To Budget For Homeschooling
What you will need to do is plan your budget…or plan, and then budget, depending on your circumstances.
Don’t get all excited about using X, Y, and Z curriculum if you cannot pay for it. In this case, set your budget first and then work to find the curriculum that will fit within it.
You may want to purchase a whole year’s curricula at once or alternatively, when needed throughout the year. You will need to budget for both of those events because there is no doubt that although you may think you have everything you need for the year, there will inevitably be something that comes up at some point that you will need.
Use A Specific Bank Account
Open a bank account specifically for homeschool expenses, and never use it for anything else. Each payday put your set budgeted amount into it – setting up a standing order makes saving this way easier as you don’t need to think about it.
Review your budget at least yearly to ensure you’re putting aside enough to cover your expenses. The amount you have figured out that you need may seem quite a bit initially, but when you consider all the costs of sending a child to school (uniforms, classroom supplies, gym gear, lunches, field trips, extra-curricular activities, transportation, etc.) you may find that you spend less on home education than you did or would taking the ‘traditional’ route.
Set Money Aside And Pay Up Front
You may want to put aside a certain amount each week, month, or payday for each period over the year ahead so that when a subscription comes up or needs renewing you can pay up front. Paying for a full year up front is often the best way to save money as you may likely get one or even two months free. Sometimes you’ll unexpectedly find a sale on something you use and you will want to have this money set aside to take advantage of it.
Make yourself a chart in a convenient place so you know when your subscriptions are expiring. This could be in a spreadsheet, your homeschool planner, or having alerts sent to you. then you’ll know when they are coming up for renewal so you don’t miss any renewals and potentially lose the work that your children have done in the class as well. Some companies will hold on to your information for a few months, while others may delete it within a week of you subscription ending.
Remember that as with everything else, educational programs and supplies will increase in price. I generally attempt to plan on a 5-10% increase in all my budgets for the following year. Then if you have a surplus in your budget you can put it towards something you’d really like, such as a field trip or an elective subject you didn’t think you could do.
When you sign up for an ongoing program, read the fine print. I’ve been caught out by purchasing a program for a certain price that included 6 months extra free – but although it wasn’t stated anywhere, when I renewed my contract with that deal again, they wouldn’t apply it. That hurt as I hadn’t yet saved up enough in advance for another year’s subscription.
Home education is like a business. In addition to the turnover of books, programs, and supplies, you will also most likely need to have a computer, laptop, tablet, or similar. A printer is almost definitely a must. For some a laminator and binding machine are important.
And don’t forget a good backup drive is essential (and a 2nd back up to be sure – if you don’t believe me, read about my digital disaster).
Make a List of What You Will Need
Will your home education style be? Will it be hands-on or all online? Even if it is online, you will also need some other essentials such as paper, pencils, art and craft supplies, etc. Will it be textbook-based? Will it be based on travel and field trips? will you be using a boxed curriculum, or will you be doing it piecemeal, butting things together from several different sources?
When you have your main courses decided and have those taken care of. You may find that you may want to supplement them where maybe a student is having a little trouble in math, or you want to bring in a tutor to help with history or biology. So put some room in your budget for these expenses, particularly if your child is in middle or high school.
Think about things such as physical education, extracurricular activities, such as piano, Ju-Jitsu, swimming, Scouts, etc., all those things can fall under homeschool expenses.
Also remember that as much as you may have everything planned out, put aside a little extra for the inevitable changes to your curriculum that will occur as not everything may be a fit. Even if it was a good fit in the past, it may not be in the future.
Ways To Save Money
In addition to budgeting for homeschool, you will also want to save as much as you can. Here are a few ways to do this:
- Stock up on basic school supplies during the sales in August and September, and keep your eye open as you may find things elsewhere at different times of the year.
- Check out Facebook groups as there are often ones specific to buying/selling used curriculum and other homeschooling supplies.
- Purchase second-hand products through bookstores, rummage sales, and online forums.
- Some homeschool retailers have sales of items that have been returned to them with a bent cover or a few marks in them or perhaps had a mishap in the printing process. There are some great deals to be had.
- There are bloggers that provide free items for you to download for your family. Look for them and sign up to keep up to date on all things homeschool.
I have written a few posts specifically on how to save money while homeschooling:
- 8 Hidden Costs of Homeschooling
- Is Homeschooling Expensive?
- 5 Ways to Homeschool Frugally; Advice From An Experienced Mom
- Free Home Education Resources in the UK
- 10 Ways We Homeschool On The Cheap
- 10 Ways To Save Money on Books
- 10 More Ways To Save Money on Books
- Home Schooling Ideas to Save You Money
My Must-Have Programs
The Best Planner Ever
Everyone has one or two things that makes life easier for them, and so do I. I always make sure I budget for these so that I can plan, organise, and save both time and money in the long run.
My favourite planner of all time is Homeschool Planet; you can plan for just about everything in there: homeschool, homework, chores, working from home, everything! You can send an email to your spouse at work, for example, to pick things up at the shop while he’s there, it’s just absolutely amazing.
Take Care Of Your Space
Motivated Moms has a wonderful chore chart app and downloadable PDFs. When you take care of your space, keep it clean, and know where things are when you need them, you’ll spend less money on replacing lost supplies and damaged books. And when you sell them after you’re done with them, you can put that money back into your homeschooling budget.