Tuesday, July 22, 2014

6 Tips for the Budget Conscious Homeschooler

I don't hide it, I'm poor. According to the Canadian Government, my family lives below the poverty line. Honestly, I'm ok with this. Suuuuure, it would make life easier to have more money, but I make do with what we've got to work with.

Of course, being poor translates into cheap frugal homeschooling. You can homeschool with loads of money to spend or zero money to spend. I could easily (well easily in my opinion cause I'm a little nuts about my love of researching stuff) homeschool all of my kids without spending anything more than ink, paper and pencils. Some people don't even do the ink and paper part! But, while I'm poor, I like to shop. I am cheap frugal though. I look for free stuff, awesome sales and used curriculum.

There's a zillion ideas for homeschoolers to save money, but here's my top 6 that I used most frequently.

1. Don't buy a several items of a new curriculum choice.

When I first started homeschooling Brianna, I went with Complete Canadian Curriculum books that I purchased from the book store. I figured they'd be perfect for us! As it turned out, I didn't like these, Brianna didn't like these, and it ended up being a waste of money. Now these books were only around the $20 mark each, but when we had several of them, it adds up.The Complete *individual subject* Smart books were better as we could use whatever grade level we needed and they were more in depth. We still didn't enjoy them a lot. They went into too much busy work but not enough detail for the stuff Brianna wanted to learn or do. Again, only $15 books, but when you have several.... (if you're just looking at a cheap supplement though, they can work)

2. The library is your best friend.

The library, provided it has a good children's department, will provide you and your kid(s) with oodles of books on a gazillion topics. Sure the internet can provide you with a lot of the same research material, but there's just something about laying out the table with a fat stack of books.

Some libraries also have free (and sometimes cheap pay) programs which you can use to your homeschool's advantage. Brianna does a Read to Ride program each summer which gives children a free bus pass for the summer in exchange for giving oral book reports to the librarians. Brianna's also done a yoga program and a movie program at the library.

3. Look for used curriculum sales.

They can be found online (facebook is my "dealer" of choice), they can be found at homeschool conventions. You can find stuff that's super cheap and even "free for shipping" and you can find more expensive stuff for a heck of a lot less than the company sells them for new. Some stuff people list are brand new (curriculum hoarders lol this will be me once all 3 kids are out of the lower grades).

4. Curriculum co-ops or just co-ops in general.

Homeschool Buyers Coop is fantastic. They offer a HUGE variety of curriculum at great discounts. I've gotten deals as high as 80% off. They also offer some free gems for members. My favorite is the Homeschooler ID cards. We're cheap so we print out the free ones and laminate our own, but for a small fee HBC will mail you hard laminated ID cards.

Local homeschool co-ops can be a great source as well. Chances are, *someone* is going to have kids older than yours. Maybe they used a re-usable curriculum that they are done with and are happy to give you or sell to you for cheap. Ya never know unless you ask! These are also great people to ask for reviews on curriculum you are considering. If they still use it/own it, you could even ask to get a hands-on look through (something I prefer over seeing a "preview" online).

5. Find and bookmark great free sites.

As is pretty obvious in my blog, 1+1+1=1 is hands down my favorite preschool/Kindergarten printables site. While she does have some printables that cost money, they are all very reasonable costs and majority of her content is completely free.

Khan Academy is a glorious free site. It mostly focuses on math, but also has some science, arts, economics and test prep. We love it because I can assign topics to Brianna and every one of them has a teaching video (or several) to go with it.

6. Don't be afraid to make your own curriculum.

With a little research and effort, you can make a lot of your own curriculum out of your own imagination. Before we settled on Math Mammoth we used a variety of math curriculum. They either didn't come with year end tests or I didn't like them. So I made my own. Going through the book, I gathered all of the main topics learned and made up my own math problems.

Another (that I'm in the middle of working on right now) is how to effectively grocery shop to get the best bang for your buck. I constantly see people saying they spend many hundreds of dollars on groceries in a month. I spend roughly $400-450 a month for a family of 6 in Canada (where our grocery prices can be double what they are n the US). I want to teach Brianna how I do it in great detail. I want her to put what I teach her into practice shopping for the family. No such curriculum for that exists. I make my own.

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Real Life at Home.

Hip Homeschool Moms

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