Homeschooling on a Budget

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homeschool_on_a_budgetIt can be a financial challenge to make the commitment to stay at home in order to homeschool your children. This is especially true if you and your spouse have been used to a two-income lifestyle. The most important factor in budgeting for homeschooling a the team effort. You and your partner need to work together. This team effort, combined with creativity and commitment, will create a successful homeschooling lifestyle. Here are some guidelines to follow for a successful budget:

  1. Financial Planning, A Team Effort You and your partner should support each other in order to make the transition from a two-income to a primarily one-income family. Homeschooling is a real commitment and the budgeting required can be tough, but it is worth the effort. Begin by putting your family finances down on paper or use a financial spreadsheet program on your computer. You need to be precise and honest with yourself about your expenses. You will also need to remember to budget for less frequent expenses like car repairs and insurance. Make sure you pay your bills on time so you don’t incur late fees. You can even calender in reminders on your computer for paying bills on time. Until you have your monthly budget running smoothly, you may need to communicate together weekly to make sure the expenses are addressed. I also recommend that you use a debit card instead of a credit card to pay for expenses unless you are really disciplined enough to pay off your total credit card bill each month. The last thing you want is to be on the wrong side of compound interest from credit cards!
  2. A Weekly Budget, A Team Effort The biggest single weekly expense for a family is usually food. You should create a reasonable weekly budget for groceries. You should try to cook at home most of the time, and meals out should be a welcome, but occasional treat. Take the time to actually read those cookbooks and find healthy but inexpensive recipes on line. You will probably find that you become more health conscious in the process. You might even want to start your own vegetable garden. Learn to buy in bulk, use coupons, and comparison shop. The generic brand at a supermarket will generally be comparable but less expensive. A second big expense is weekly gas for the car. Do you need two cars? Perhaps not. Can you make one trip into town with effective planning instead of two? Another area that can be a problem for some is clothes shopping. Look for the clearance specials, shop at discount stores, or even thrift stores and budget a clothes allowance if spending in that area can be a problem for you. Be sure that your children’s expenses like music lessons or sports are budgeted for each week.
  3. Working From Home, A Team Effort In a time of economic uncertainty, you may need to support your partner by bringing in some money yourself. One way to do this is to work from home. You might start an inexpensive home based business, sell items on E Bay, write freelance articles, or even hold frequent garage sales ? There are many money-making opportunities out there, especially internet based ones, that can help you support the team effort to homeschool your children. It might be difficult at first to adjust to the extra demand of work hours from home, but if you work as a team then you can create a rhythm that everyone in the family can support.
  4. Saving Money on Homeschooling, A Team Effort Often only one person in the couple is primarily responsible for organizing the family’s homeschooling lifestyle, but it still takes a team budgeting effort to make it successful. There are many ways you can save money on your curriculum materials. First, make good use of your local library. Start in June by figuring out what books your library has that will help support your curriculum for school that next fall. Second, find out where you can attend homeschooling curriculum swap events or sales or do this informally with homeschooling friends whose children may be a bit older and so willing to pass on materials to you. If you need to purchase an individual book, consider getting it used on line at Amazon or Half.com. Last but not least, use the vast resources of the internet for a very inexpensive or free way to obtain homeschooling materials. There is a wealth of information on the net and one of the best new resources that I know for homeschoolers who want to find inexpensive and well-organized curriculum for their children is a new subscription based resource called Learning Pathways. You can sign up for a reasonable fee on a monthly or yearly basis and receive a well-organized curriculum that covers all subject matters for the elementary years organized in year-long Guided Journeys and weekly Pathways using materials that are at your fingertips on the net. It is a great idea and may completely adjust the way we look at purchasing curriculum.

Remember that if you really want to homeschool your children, there are ways to do it. These ways will inevitably involve budgeting your overall finances and your weekly spending. They may require that you support your partner by working from home. There are also inexpensive ways to get curriculum materials for your homeschooling. Creativity and ingenuity are hallmarks of a successful homeschooling family and you and your children will benefit from the conscious planning and creative effort that results in a happy and prosperous homeschooling family lifestyle.

About the Author:
Jennifer K. Gray is the Director of Operations for LessonPathways.com. Lesson Pathways is an innovative online curriculum created entirely from INTERNET RESOURCES, making it easy for educators to use educational resources and links, with limited pre-planning time!

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