How to Start Homeschooling Without Going Broke (Or Losing Your Mind)
Wondering how to start homeschooling without going broke (or losing your mind)?
Check out these terrific tips and tricks to help you begin your homeschooling adventures without breaking the bank. And preserving your sanity 😉
You’ll also learn about how one of my very favorite stories helped me at the start of my homeschool journey – and how it can help you, too!
Homeschooling Can Feel Like You’re In Another World
When I started homeschooling, I felt like I landed in the Land of Oz. My head was spinning and it seemed like I was in a new world.
Fortunately, I had some wonderful friends and guidance (just like Dorothy!) to get me started on my very own Yellow Brick Road.
If you’re new to the world of homeschooling, it’s completely natural to feel overwhelmed.
It can feel like there’s a whole different language. (Deschooling? Co-op? Unit studies?)
And like there’s a whole different lifestyle to adapt to – like having your kids with you 24/7 and and how can you afford it all (especially if you’re trying to get by on one income).
When my boys and I began our homeschool adventures about 10 years ago, it was sudden and unexpected. And felt like a tornado had picked up our house and plopped it down in the middle of some strange place.
A dear friend of mine was like Glinda the Good Witch. She equipped me with some important tools (not ruby slippers but that would have been awesome!) and pointed me in the right direction (not quite the Yellow Brick road but down a good path).
Along that path, I found some amazing friends who were looking for companionship and help with their own concerns and issues.
At times, we were frightened and frustrated by some “bad witches” and tricky situations.
But, we picked up some fantastic tips and ideas that made our homeschool adventures easier, enjoyable, and more affordable.
But, You’ll Discover Amazing Ways to Thrive!
One of the most common concerns when you start homeschooling is how you can do it without going broke. Costs for books, supplies, and other learning resources can really add up.
If you come from a public school background (like I did), you’re not used to dishing out money for school supplies. It can be quite a shock!
Ask just about any homeschool parent if they spent a lot of money to start homeschooling and you’re likely to find that quite a few of them tell you yes.
For most families, figuring out how to start homeschooling without going broke can be a challenge.
But luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way with just a little bit of work on your part. And you don’t have to visit some creepy wizard to find out how!
I’m sharing the tips and ideas that my friends and I learned when we started homeschooling to keep costs down and spirits up.
9 Terrific Tips for How to Homeschool Without Breaking the Bank
These practical tips for how to start homeschooling focus on keeping it affordable and relaxed. Check out our Homeschooling 101 page for more help, resources, and suggestions!
1. Research Your State Laws
Researching your state laws is the most important homeschooling task you can do for yourself. A simple Google search will help you keep this free.
Make certain that you know if you have to maintain a homeschool portfolio, meet with an evaluator, or keep attendance records.
By knowing what is required of you and your homeschool, you’ll have guidance with your choices and reduce your overall anxiety.
2. Choose the Type of Curriculum You’ll Use
It seems like there is a homeschool curriculum option available for every day of the year. You’ll have to do some research on which type of curriculum is best for your family. Check out Homeschool Basics: How to Get a Successful Start & Keep It Up for help!
For some families, a boxed curriculum will be best. For other homeschoolers, an online curriculum will work. Others may find that an unschooling or unit studies approach is best for them.
This step is important because you can’t look for ways to keep homeschooling on the cheaper end until you have an idea of what to look for.
Not sure how to decide on what type of curriculum to use? The Simply Successful Homeschool Starter Toolkit can help!
3. Search for Sales
While regular back-to-school sales are great for helping you save on school supplies, supplements, and curriculum at the beginning of the school year, these types of sales won’t help with needs that you have in the middle of the year.
To save on these items, be sure to join mailing lists for curriculum suppliers you like (I love Rainbow Resource!). And watch general homeschool (online) stores for seasonal and holiday sales.
4. Use Coupons Where Possible
Like sales, coupons can significantly help you save. These coupons can be found on the websites themselves and often by subscribing to a curriculum manufacturer’s website.
Copuons can often be as high as 50% off so just by using a coupon code, you’ll save yourself a significant amount of money.
5. Opt for a Used Option
eBay, Facebook Marketplace, and yard sales are great options for finding quality used curriculum.
Just because you’re buying used does not mean it will be used up, written in, or otherwise unusable to you. In fact, most homeschool families take great care of their curriculum parts and you may find it looks new.
6. Go Paperless (If Possible)
While your student may not be able to completely go paperless, you definitely have options. Printer paper, printer ink, file folders, and more can all add up.
Instead, opt for digital options whenever possible. Digitally-stored resources are generally free or very low cost, even if you pay for cloud storage.
For example, my older boys use Google Docs for many of their writing assignments, science lab reports, and more.
Digital options can also include your school calendar and homeschool planner. A few ways that my friends have used digital planning in their homeschool include:
- Google calendar
- Homeschool Planet
7. Don’t Buy a New-to-You Full Curriculum Right Away
You might think you know what you want. And that a particular curriculum will just be perfect for your kids and you.
Take it from me – it’s better to take it slow!
Give free trials or samples a test run. See if you can borrow a few pieces from a friend.
You’l be much less likely to feel compelled to push through using it (and making yourself miserable).
Since there are so many homeschool curriculum options available, it can become very expensive if you buy a curriculum only to find that it is not a good fit for your family. If that happens, you’ll likely end up buying a new curriculum all over again to restart.
Instead, buy one or two pieces to use as a test. If the curriculum works for you and your student(s), you’ll know it’s financially safe to purchase the rest of the curriculum.
8. Don’t Forget Brick and Mortar Stores
Places such as Half-Price Books and your local library have always been amazing options for homeschoolers.
You’ll be able to find new resources for your children plus save hundreds of dollars over the course of just a few school years.
9. Plan As Much As Possible
When sitting down to plan your homeschool, I also recommend taking it slow.
I recommend planning a week at a time. If you plan ahead too much (like months in advance), you may just frustrate yourself.
Around our second year of homeschooling, I tried planning a whole year ahead. Only to “get behind” a few weeks in. I ended up wasting a lot of time, energy, and paper tweaking.
You may find that planning a month at a time is your sweet spot. Play around with it to discover what works best for you.
You’ll be able to save money by buying materials ahead of time (instead of dashing out to the store to pick up supplies for a science experiment).
And you’ll be able to relax and feel more confident knowing what to expect.
Bonus Tip: Think outside the box for finding homeschool supplies! One of my favorite places to pick up materials is Michael’s Arts and Crafts. You can get a 15% discount using a homeschool I.D. (I either use my HSLDA membership card or free printable one from Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op.)
The Power to Enjoy a Solid Start to Homeschooling Is Within You
Dorothy had to discover that she had what it takes inside her along – and that “There’s no place like home!“.
And you will, too!
Use these tips and ideas to help you figure out how to start homeschooling without spending a ton of money AND maintaining your mental health.
I’d love to know: Which of these tips or ideas do you think will help you the most? And, if you’ve #beentheredonethat, what suggestions would you add? Please share in the comments area below!