Thirteen years ago, if anyone would have told me that I was going to be homeschooling my future kids, I would have been in disbelief. At the time, I had just graduated with my Masters in Elementary Ed, and was getting ready to work with both teachers and students in schools across Arizona, New Mexico and El Paso.
Fifteen years later (and ten years into being self employed), I knew that I would have to make some changes if I wanted to homeschool our kids – not only in terms of work schedule but also our budget. Thankfully we sacrificed, made those changes and now are almost done with the 2017-2018 school year.
Many different factors come into play in terms of homeschooling – from the challenge of juggling a full time job working at home to managing the kids, to curriculum and lastly, the expense of curriculum. Curriculum doesn’t have to be costly though – there are definitely free and low-cost options out there. It all depends on what you are looking for that best suits your family situation.
While homeschooling itself can be inexpensive, it’s important to learn how to make room in the budget. Field trips, curriculum, and even missing out on work can all be financial factors in the homeschool journey.
Here is how to create a budget to make room for homeschooling financially.
#1. Know what your expenses will be
You don’t have to let the financial side of homeschooling frustrate you. If you sit down and determine what your homeschooling expenses will be, you can add this to the budget. A good example would be putting $100 aside for the year for field trips. Depending on your family size, this could be the perfect amount for the school year’s field trips.
I find that it’s best to start a sinking fund, and contribute to that fund monthly (maybe $40 – $50) – it’s a great start to have the money set aside for field trips, or even summer activities (especially if you don’t homeschool year round). Some families opt to homeschool year round and allow their kids to have longer breaks during the year – which works super for taking family trips when places like LEGOLAND or Disney are less busy.
#2. Set your heart on used curriculum
It is so nice to get new and unopened boxes of curriculum in the mail, but that can be tough on your homeschool budget. Some homeschoolers barely use their curriculum and then sell it at the end of the year. Don’t set your heart on brand new curriculum, if you want to stay on budget.
If you are looking to homeschool, there are many options for free curriculum, while some are more costly. While we budget for ours through the year, we also opt to buy some of our curriculum used to allow us to stay on track financially – picking up materials can get expensive for five kids.
#3. Create a realistic budget
To be honest, a lot of people go over budget for their homeschooling year. It’s best to create a realistic budget and adjust as the school year goes on. A realistic budget can help you cover costs like school supplies, curriculum, field trips, and so on.
We started putting money away a good six months to a year prior to taking the plunge, and it helped us to be able to glide through the school year without pinching money from other areas of our budget. If you think you might want to homeschool at some point, it’s never too early to start putting money away.
Isn’t it best to have money leftover than not enough money to cover the school year? Always try to over-estimate, as you can always take the overage and apply to the next year or put in a sinking fund for extra money when necessary.
#4. Decide if you can continue taking time off work, work part-time, of full-time
A lot of homeschooling families have a stay at home parent, whether that is mom or dad. Homeschooling can take up a good portion of the day, but that doesn’t mean work can’t be a possibility. I actually manage working home full time between three businesses while also homeschooling the kids – it’s definitely not easy, but it is possible.
The verdict? If you can swing the homeschool parent thing, GREAT! However, if you can’t, this is a great time to put together a plan for working full-time or part-time for the second parent. Sometimes a part-time job is necessary to keep putting food on the table, while homeschooling.
There are even parents out there who work full-time and homeschool their kids. It’s possible, you just need a plan.