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In my opinion, homeschooling is one of the most rewarding things that you can do for your child if you’re able. Not everyone can and I count myself as lucky that I am able to. Homeschooling supplies can get expensive pretty quickly if you aren’t paying attention which means that if I’m not careful, I can very easily blow my homeschooling budget. I’m sure you’re the same way. Depending on how many kids you are teaching, you can easily spend $1,000 on different homeschool curriculum options and supplements before you have a chance to realize it. For a new homeschooling mom, this can easily put her off and may even make her feel as if it isn’t worth it. If you’re feeling that way or if you’re having trouble finding ways to homeschool on a budget, don’t stress too much. There are plenty of ways to save money on homeschooling that can help ease the burden.
The biggest thing that I want to convey to you when you start looking for ways to homeschool on a budget is that it is okay to spend money and if you can’t? That’s okay too. We’re all just doing the best that we can. Not a single one of us is SuperMom and we need to learn how to be okay with that. If your kids don’t have the latest and greatest curriculum, that’s okay. They will still learn using a free printable or that curriculum that you started handing down two kids ago.
Ways to Homeschool on a Budget
With that said, I highly advise that you create room in your personal budget for your homeschooling supplies and curriculum. Because we are eclectic homeschoolers, we use a lot of different homeschool curriculum options. For our family, we generally spend around $300.00 at the start of the year. I then budget $50.00 each month in our personal budget (Six Dollar Family) for supplements and other items that may be needed. Most of the time, using the tips and methods below, I usually don’t even spend that. Sure, there’s the occasional project that costs more, but they are very rare for us.
HP Instant Ink –
Homeschool mom’s print and we print a lot! Case in point? At this very moment, I am bouncing back and forth between typing this post and creating the daily work folders that my daughter will use over the next few weeks. In the last hour, I have printed over 200 sheets of paper. That kind of printer ink cost could get very expensive, very quickly so one of the first things I did when trying to figure out how to homeschool (Six Dollar Family) on a budget was figure out how to save money on printer ink. Luckily, I own an HP Envy printer and can use the HP Instant Ink program. With this program, I pay just $9.99/mo for up to 300 sheets. After that, I pay only $1.00 for every 25 sheets.
That may seem like it would add up, but I don’t normally print like this. It happens once every 12 weeks or so. With HP Instant Ink, my unused sheets roll over when I don’t use them! This means that even though I printed most of the 300 sheets that I pay for today, I still have “free” sheets since I have a rollover balance – 200 free prints to be exact. If you don’t print as often as I do, that’s okay! They have three different pricing tiers so that it fits in with any home!
With printer ink being a huge expense, making the switch, even if you must buy a new printer to do so, will often save you more money than continuing to buy ink cartridges. This is especially true since they typically give you 1-2 months free when you sign up for an HP Instant Ink account.
Earn Free Amazon Gift Cards Online –
I buy a lot of our homeschool supplies and supplements on Amazon, but I don’t pay cash to do so. Instead, I earn free Amazon gift cards online and use those to pay instead. It isn’t something that everyone will be willing to do, but if you are looking to homeschool on a budget or to add a bit of money to your budget each month, it is a fantastic option and will save you quite a bit of money over the course of a school year.
Get cash back when you have to buy curriculum or supplies –
One of my favorite ways to save money on homeschool supplies is by getting cash back when I have to buy something. To do this, I shop through Ebates when I have to shop online. Ebates works with a ton of companies, Amazon included, to earn a bit of cash with each purchase you make. They then pass a percentage of that cash back to you. It is essentially getting paid to shop but I look at it as a way to keep more of my money. Plus, if you’re new to Ebates, they will give you a free $10.00 gift card of your choice when you sign up for an Ebates account. It isn’t a huge help, but it does help me to stay within my homeschool budget each year.
Check out Usborne Books –
I absolutely love Usborne Books for homeschool supplements. Not only are they fun to read, but the educational value that is contained in them is of such a high quality that it is hard to find something that matches it. We use the nonfiction books, such as The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History and The World Wars in our everyday studies and some of my daughter’s favorite books are in their fiction series. Plus, the additional resources that come with the internet linked books can’t be beat as a homeschool mom. I really can’t recommend them high enough and once you see the quality that I’m talking about, you’ll understand why. If you’re looking at ordering from Usborne books, make sure to check the current Usborne Books specials before you do. You may be able to earn free books or save significantly over retail price.
Homeschool freebies (Six Dollar Family) –
Using homeschool freebies is a great way to homeschool on a budget and the internet is full of them! We have a huge list of homeschool freebies here on Six Dollar Family. Educents is loaded with creators that offer free printable homeschool curriculum. You can even find it on Currclick and Teachers Pay Teachers too! There are blogs that are devoted to homeschool freebies too like Free Homeschool Deals or blogs such as Life of a Homeschool Mom who has a dedicated freebie section. How it saves you money should be obvious; if you’re using a homeschool freebie, you’re not spending money to buy something.
Compare prices –
When you’re buying your homeschool curriculum, you have a lot of choices as to where you can buy it from. A lot of homeschool parents, simply order from the publisher and are done with it. Doing that though can cost you quite a bit of money that you do not need to spend. For instance, while we are eclectic homeschoolers, Emma does use a base curriculum for math and English. She uses ACE for those two subjects and while I could order directly from ACE, I actually save money by ordering through ChristianBook.com. I save a couple of dollars off of each subject pack but where I really save big is shipping. ChristianBook.com has flat rate/tiered shipping whereas ACE charges actual shipping charges. By ordering someplace else, I save myself at least $100/year and since ChristianBook.com has amazing customer service, I win there too!
Office Supply Store Paper Sales
Printer paper is also expensive when you use as much of it as a homeschool mom can, but watching the office supply stores can help you homeschool on a budget. Every so often, especially around the start of school, the big box office supply stores such as Staples and Office Depot will put out printer paper deals. A lot of the time, these deals will enable you to get a case of paper for a penny or free after rebate. They may take some work on your part, but they’re totally worth doing if your budget is tight.
Free tv online –
Documentaries and other educational programing are excellent homeschool supplements and since there are a ton of ways to watch tv online (legally) there is usually not much reason to buy a DVD or spend money elsewhere. Youtube is another great option for homeschoolers and in fact, my daughter is currently following along with videos that match our Texas State History 7th grade textbook perfectly. She learns and I don’t have to spend a dime. In addition to the random videos that you can come across on Youtube, there are also the ones that accounts like Kahn Academy put out. Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and even Hulu are all fantastic options.
I mentioned Educents earlier, but even if you’re not looking for a freebie, shopping at Educents can really help you save money on homeschool supplies. Most of their items are priced at deep discounts that can go as high as 90% off! They offer both downloadable and physical products, often have really nice coupon codes to help you save even more and occasionally will run a free shipping promo. I get a lot of my Emma’s supplements from Educents simply because it saves me so much money.
Currclick is another site like Teachers Pay Teachers and Educents and the second place that I go to when I’m looking for budget friendly curriculum. I also like that they have video options and club options, like American Girl Club for the kids too. The amount of curriculum and supplements that Currclick has to offer is huge too.
Used curriculum groups –
Facebook is good for much more than keeping up with your Cousin Jenny’s new baby. Those buy sell and trade groups are awesome for finding homeschool curriculum and supplies. There are groups that are specific to homeschool curriculum, those that are specific to used books and so on. What’s even better about these groups is that you can sell your items that won’t get used too so that you make a bit of your own money back. I do caution you about these groups. Always use Paypal to pay since they will cover you if a seller doesn’t ship and watch your prices. You will often find sellers who are trying to sell their items for retail costs.
Buy used where you can –
There’s no reason whatsoever to pay retail prices for new books and things that you use as supplements unless you have no choice. I don’t think that I have bought new supplements in the entire three years that we have been homeschooling. You can buy used on Amazon, there are Facebook groups like I suggested above and for books that she will be reading, I make it a point to shop at Thriftbooks.com. Thriftbooks offers really decent sales so it makes buying a whole year’s worth of reading books easy to do within my budget. They have a fantastic selection too and there has been more than one incidence where Thriftbooks has been the only place that I’ve been able to find a particular book. They also offer all new customers 15% off their first order with coupon code 15OFFNEW . If you can’t find what you’re looking for, make sure to head to your local thrift shop too. A lot of the time, if you follow a few thrift store shopping tips, you can find fantastic deals on what you need. My final option for buying used is Half Priced Books which leads us to our next way to homeschool on a budget.
Teacher Discounts –
Did you know that as a homeschool parent you often qualify for teacher or educator discounts? If not, don’t feel bad. I had been homeschooling a full year before I realized it. There are quite a few homeschool educator discounts available but my personal absolute favorite is Half Priced books. Homeschoolers can save 20% off with their educator discount!
Curriculum Trade with friends –
On the bookshelf behind me, I have a yellow folder. In this yellow folder are the pages of the Ancient Egypt History Pocket. We are currently working on an in-depth study of Ancient Egypt and as I copy the sheets for my daughter to work with, I place the originals in that folder. Why? Because I have friends who have kids who might like it and they have curriculum or supplements that I might want to trade for. Trading with friends who have kids that are around the age of your kids is a fantastic way to save money on homeschool items. Plus, it keeps a product from sitting on the shelf or maybe even ending up in the trash.
Become a yard sale queen (or king) –
Yard sales are treasure troves of deals and that includes homeschool curriculum. I didn’t include this in the buy used point for one reason; very often you will find brand new items at yard sales. If you’re headed out to shop at your local yard sales, be sure to follow a few common yard sale shopping tips to be sure that you get the best deals possible. Knowing how to haggle to get the best deal can help you too since you’ll likely want to do so without offending the seller. If you’re going to hit the yard sales, I highly recommend that you make a list of what you’re looking for before you go. Doing so will help keep you from spending more money than you should.
Make field trips affordable –
Field trips are a huge part of homeschooling and like anything else, they can get expensive quickly. Picking up a couple of memberships can help. First there’s the Kern County Museum pass. This pass allows you to get into hundreds of museums, aquariums and zoos for free or a deep discount. In addition to that, picking up a CityPASS if there is one available for your field trip location can save you up to 50%. We have an upcoming field trip to the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences and a few other spots and are saving BIG because we bought the Houston CityPASS. In addition to CityPASS and the museum membership, Groupon is a fantastic place to find discounts on field trip locations and you may want to consider buying an Entertainment Book too. Both can save you on admission prices, food and more. Finally, the ways to earn free gift cards that I mentioned earlier in this post all usually offer gift cards for common restaurants and locations that can help as well.
Group Buys –
If you’ve never heard of Homeschool Buyers Co-Op, you need to head over to their website and join right now. Not only can you make your child a free homeschool student ID card, but you can also get in on group buys for curriculum. These group buys are designed to save you money. Since they’re purchased at a larger volume than normal, the co-op typically will get a discount given to them. That discount is passed on to you. In addition to the buys, you can also check out the digital homeschool planner Homeschool Planet.
Homeschooling your kids is an amazing experience that I truly wish every parent could experience. Like I’ve said though, it is an expensive, amazing experience. Using the tips above has allowed me to give my daughter the type of education that I want her to have but to stay within my budget. I hope that they’ll help you homeschool on a budget in the same way they’ve helped me. Do you have any other ways to homeschool on a budget that I’ve missed?